The Norman Conquest (Hardcover)

By Marc Morris

Pegasus Books, 9781605984513, 464pp.

Publication Date: June 4, 2013

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (12/15/2014)
MP3 CD (6/28/2016)

List Price: 32.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

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. Morris writes with passion, verve, and scrupulous concern for historical accuracy. This is the definitive account for our times of an extraordinary story, indeed the pivotal moment in the shaping of the English nation.


About the Author

Marc Morris is a historian specializing in the Middle Ages. He is the author of A Great and Terrible King; King John; and the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling The Norman Conquest. He lives in England.


Praise For The Norman Conquest

Morris 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 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 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 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 Jumieges, 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 an historian’s historian who can write for the masses.


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.

Uncommonly good. It’s compelling stuff.