This riveting and authoritative USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller is “a much-needed, modern account of the Normans in England” (The Times, London).
The Norman Conquest was the most significant military—and cultural—episode in English history. An invasion on a scale not seen since the days of the Romans, it was capped by one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles ever fought. Language, law, architecture, and even attitudes toward life itself —from the destruction of the ancient ruling class to the sudden introduction of castles and the massive rebuilding of every major church—were altered forever by the coming of the Normans. But why was this revolution so total?
Reassessing original evidence, acclaimed historian and broadcaster Marc Morris goes beyond the familiar story of William the Conqueror, an upstart French duke who defeated the most powerful kingdom in Christendom. Morris explains why England was so vulnerable to attack; why the Normans possessed the military cutting edge though they were perceived as less sophisticated in some respects; and why William’s hopes of a united Anglo-Norman realm unraveled, dashed by English rebellions, Viking invasions, and the insatiable demands of his fellow conquerors.
Named one of the best books of the year by the Kansas City Star, who called the work “stunning in its action and drama,” and the Providence Journal, who hailed it “meticulous and absorbing,” this USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller is a tale of gripping drama, epic clashes, and seismic social change.
Morris (A Great and Terrible King) brilliantly revisits the Norman Conquest, "the single most important event in English history," by following the body-strewn fortunes of its key players: England's King Edward the Confessor; his hated father-in-law and England's premier earl, Godwine; Harold II, the prior's son and England's last Anglo-Saxon king; and Edward's cousin William, the fearsome duke of Normandy, known by contemporaries as "the Bastard" and by posterity as "the Conqueror." Miraculously surviving a Viking invasion, exile, the death of six older half-brothers (from battle, illness, and execution), and his mother's perfidies, Edward a descendant of Alfred the Great took the English crown but was dominated by his father-in-law. Yet to Godwine's chagrin, Edward chose William as his successor in return for his loyalty. Nevertheless, after Edward's death, Harold snatched the crown, setting in motion William's invasion and his own death at the supremely gory Battle of Hastings. In England, William and the Normans ended slavery, dispossessed the English ruling elite of their lands, ushered in an architectural revolution, zealously reformed the Church, and savagely starved the north into submission. Readable, authoritative, and remarkably nuanced, Morris's history is sublime. 8 pages of color illus., two maps, and two family trees.
A good and interesting read
This is an epic story, yet the author deftly balances the broader sweep of history with interesting and intimate details of the many characters who played different roles within it. What’s more, this isn’t written simply as “this is what happened,” since many points are, to this day, either unclear or in dispute—and whenever this is the case, the author brings us along for his detective work, arguments, or counter-arguments, which are frequently quite interesting.
The Fall of Anglo-Saxon England and the rise of Norman England.
A fascinating and complicated history that thoroughly describes the story weaved by the Bayeux Tapestry of the Norman Conquest of King Edward the Confessor's Anglo-Saxon rule by the Norman William the Conqueror. Proves that the two groups were essentially the same
Viking related tribe.