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Exploring the successful Norman invasion of England in 1066, this concise and readable book focuses especially on the often dramatic and enduring changes wrought by William the Conqueror and his followers. From the perspective of a modern social historian, Hugh M. Thomas considers the conquest's wide-ranging impact by taking a fresh look at such traditional themes as the influence of battles and great men on history and assessing how far the shift in ruling dynasty and noble elites affected broader aspects of English history. The author sets the stage by describing English society before the Norman Conquest and recounting the dramatic story of the conquest, including the climactic Battle of Hastings. He then traces the influence of the invasion itself and the Normans' political, military, institutional, and legal transformations. Inevitably following on the heels of institutional reform came economic, social, religious, and cultural changes. The results, Thomas convincingly shows, are both complex and surprising. In some areas where one might expect profound influence, such as government institutions, there was little change. In other respects, such as the indirect transformation of the English language, the conquest had profound and lasting effects. With its combination of exciting narrative and clear analysis, this book will capture students interest in a range of courses on medieval and Western history.
Part I: Context and Conquest
Chapter 1: The Background to the Conquest
Chapter 2: The Conquest
Part II: Consequences: Did the Conquest Matter?
Chapter 3: Landownership, Government, War, and Law
Chapter 4: Economic and Social Consequences
Chapter 5: Cultural Consequences
Conclusion: The Impact of the Norman Conquest
Individuals Mentioned in the Text