The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England

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Overview

A riveting and authoritative history of the single most important event in English history: the Norman Conquest.An upstart French duke who sets out to conquer the most powerful and unified kingdom in Christendom. An invasion force on a scale not seen since the days of the Romans. One of the bloodiest and most decisive battles ever fought.This new history explains why the Norman Conquest was the most significant cultural and military episode in English history. Assessing the original evidence at every turn, Marc ...

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The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England

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Overview

A riveting and authoritative history of the single most important event in English history: the Norman Conquest.An upstart French duke who sets out to conquer the most powerful and unified kingdom in Christendom. An invasion force on a scale not seen since the days of the Romans. One of the bloodiest and most decisive battles ever fought.This new history explains why the Norman Conquest was the most significant cultural and military episode in English history. Assessing the original evidence at every turn, Marc Morris goes beyond the familiar outline to explain why England was at once so powerful and yet so vulnerable to William the Conqueror’s attack; why the Normans, in some respects less sophisticated, possessed the military cutting edge; how William’s hopes of a united Anglo-Norman realm unraveled, dashed by English rebellions, Viking invasions, and the insatiable demands of his fellow conquerors.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Agent: Julian Alexander, LAW (U.K.). (June 15)
The Evening Standard
“Marc Morris’s lively new book retells the story of the Norman invasion with vigor and narrative urgency. A stirring account of 1066 with a firm grip on the thrust and style of a popular history.”
The TImes (London)
“A lively subject, depicted with dash and color, brought to bright life with telling detail. Morris gives a compelling account of the invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066 and the violent struggle thereafter. Morris provides a much-needed, modern account of the Normans in England that respects past events more than present ideologies.”
The Daily Telegraph
“Uncommonly good. It’s compelling stuff.”
Library Journal
British historian Morris (A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain) strives to present an unbiased account of William of Normandy's 1066 invasion of England and his assumption of the English crown. He argues that the Norman Conquest was the most significant event in English history. To support his claim, he elaborates on the circumstances leading up to the conquest, including the state of both English and Norman societies and the impact the Normans had on England after William took the throne. He considers, for example, the lasting changes brought by the Normans to terms of inheritance, landholding, architecture (e.g., the building of the Tower of London), and religious attitudes. The great strength of Morris's account is his examination of early sources such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. He looks at these with a discerning eye, clearly evaluating biases, strengths, and weaknesses, all the while giving readers a cohesive narrative. Although Morris's analysis may border on overlong in some places, his book offers a fascinating look at the challenges of discerning truth from rumor and falsehood based on scant sources almost a thousand years old. VERDICT Highly recommended for both academic and casual readers seeking a full exploration of 1066 and all that.—Rebekah Kati, Walden Univ. Lib., Morrisville, NC
Kirkus Reviews
The story of William the Conqueror's invasion of England is hardly new, but the situations that prompted it on both sides of the English Channel have never been told in so much depth. A historian who specializes in the Middle Ages, especially that period's monarchies and aristocracy, Morris (Kings and Castle, 2012, etc.) takes thoroughness to new heights as he compares all the available sources in this valuable text. The French relied on the writings of William of Jumièges, chaplain to William; the Bayeux Tapestry commissioned by William's half brother, Bishop Odo; and the work of Orderic Vitalis, an Anglo-Norman born in 1075. The English viewpoint comes from the anonymously penned Life of King Edward and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. The difficulty with the Chronicles is that it was copied by different monasteries, each skewing facts to fit their particular patron's viewpoint. There is no doubt that King Edward the Confessor was king in name only; Earl Godwin's family was effectively ruling England during Edward's reign. His daughter married Edward, and his sons, including Harold (he of the arrow in the eye), held all England save Mercia. No wonder they felt the crown was rightfully theirs. William's abilities and the Vikings' support of brother Tostig's greed proved them wrong. The most important source for the actual invasion is Song of the Battle of Hastings, a contemporary epic poem only discovered in the early-19th century. The English rebelled against foreign rule, new language and customs for five more years before a semblance of order was established. The author includes useful maps, an expansive genealogical tree and extensive notes. A thoroughly enjoyable book from a historian's historian who can write for the masses.
The Times (London)

A lively subject, depicted with dash and color, brought to bright life with telling detail. Morris gives a compelling account of the invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066 and the violent struggle thereafter. Morris provides a much-needed, modern account of the Normans in England that respects past events more than present ideologies.

Kansas City Star

Stunning in its action and drama, this book illuminates fully what turns out to have been a tangled and violent passage in history.

Providence Journal

It has been argued that the Norman conquest of England, initiated by William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hasting in 1066, was the single most important event in all of English history. Marc Morris’ meticulous and absorbing analysis of this seismic historical shift reaffirms that sweeping assertion. But where Morris’ book really excels is in its understanding of the conquest’s ramifications for the nation’s demographics, language, and ruling elite.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605984513
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 6/4/2013
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 77,467
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Marc Morris,PhD, is an historian and broadcaster specializing in the Middle Ages. An expert on medieval monarchy and aristocracy, Marc has written numerous articles for History Today, BBC History Magazine and Heritage Today. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and lives in England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 26, 2014

    Interesting and informative but hard for an elderly reader to fo

    Interesting and informative but hard for an elderly reader to follow without constantly referring back to earlier pages.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2014

    Well researched, documented and written.

    Detailed and highly readable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    Loved this Book!

    Very historical and highly detailed, great for history buffs. Exciting and hard to put down.

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  • Posted March 21, 2014

    Interesting

    Well-written, well-documented, some points to argue about. Very entertaining. Worth the money and time to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    Great book!

    Excellent, most readable, thorough, instructive and entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    Worth reading

    Enjoyable informative read

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