An epic tale, with violence at its heart, and a triumph of narrative history.
The Norman Conquest starts with the most decisive battle in English history and continues with dramatic rebellions and their ruthless suppression, eventually resulting in the creation of the English nation. The repercussions of the Conquest are with us still.
The book begins with the Saxon kings, specifically Edward the Confessor, and shows how England was in constant conflict as the English fell prey to both Vikings and Normans. In the north, King Harold destroys his Viking namesake at the battle of Stamford Bridge but immediately has to hurry south to confront William of Normandy at Hastings. His defeat, and the destruction of the Anglo-Saxon warrior caste, leads inexorably to William's forceful occupation of an unwilling country, and this is the ruthless story Marc Morris tells. It is a drama crammed with intrigue, bloodshed and betrayal, featuring vivid, almost deranged characters: Edward the Confessor, who spurns his queen in their marriage bed to spite her family, even though it spells the end of his own dynasty; the heroic King Harold, the hero of Stamford Bridge and the last Saxon king, who perjures himself, betrays his brother and puts aside his wife in his bid for the throne; William the Bastard, later known as the Conqueror, who assembles the mightiest invasion fleet in the middle ages and after unexpected success almost destroys the country he has won.
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MARC MORRIS is an historian and broadcaster. He studied and taught history at the universities of London and Oxford, and his doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk was published in 2005. In 2003 he presented the highly-acclaimed television series Castle, and wrote its accompanying book. His most recent book, A Great and Terrible King, was published by Hutchinson in 2008.Review:
"Almost everything you know about 1066 is wrong. And there's no better historian to put you right than the wonderful Marc Morris. His new book grips not only as a work of narrative history but also as a sleuthing exercise ... Morris has captured the triumph and the tragedy of this tumultuous era with verve, insight and a rollicking narrative." Mail on Sunday "Morris gives a compelling account of the invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066 ... Confidently, he opens with the Bayeux Tapestry as a powerful contemporary depiction of a famous battle ... Morris sorts embroidery from evidence and provides a much-needed, modern account of the Normans in England that respects past events more than present ideologies." -- Iain Finlayson The Times "Marc Morris's lively new book retells the story of the Norman invasion with vim, vigour and narrative urgency" Evening Standard "As every schoolboy knows, or used to, 1066 is the most important date in English history. But as Marc Morris points out in this enormously enjoyable book, the Norman conquest was much more violent, complicated and ambiguous then we usually think. Carefully steering the reader through the partisan and often contradictory sources, he paints a vivid picture of the collapse of the sophisticated Anglo-Saxon realm, and shows how William the Conqueror relied on sheer terror to establish his reign. Even a Norman chronicler admitted that William had "mercilessly slaughtered" the English, "like the scourge of God smiting them for their sins." -- Dominic Sandbrook The Sunday Times, Books of the Year "I loved it - a suitably epic account of one of the most seismic and far-reaching events in British history." -- Dan Snow
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