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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

The Norman Conquest by Marc Morris

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

Morris has given us a thorough yet readable explanation of events surrounding the Norman Conquest with this well-researched work. With a detailed look at the years leading up to William's invasion through the ascendancy of Henry II, the reader is made aware of each nuance of English life that was affected by the arrival of the Normans.

Morris has a brilliant style of writing that takes into account a variety of theories and tends not to more forcefully press with one than the evidence supports. He manages a huge cast of vivid characters and masterfully weaves their stories together. Rather than claiming that he can solve for questions, like who Edward really intended to have inherit his crown, Morris presents related theories and admits that there is no way for us to know for sure.

Looking into consequences that reach far beyond Hastings, this narrative explains the years of rebellions and setbacks that William was forced to cope with and explores how the shifting of power caused sweeping changes that are noted in everyday life, down to the language that was spoken.

I admit that most of my knowledge of this period has previously come through historical fiction and some random fact checking. This more thorough study enabled me to see, for the first time, some interesting comparisons and contrasts between William's arrival in England and Henry Tudor's. Though Morris does not make any parallel observations, some of the connections in my own mind were thought provoking. Where William was fought against for years, Henry was (more or less) welcomed. Both Richard III and Harold had questionable rights to the throne....anyway, I could go on, but that is not really the subject of this particular work. Morris does note the differences between earlier take-overs, such as Cnut's, and William's. I found it all rather intriguing.

A wonderful study of the reasons for and results of the Norman Conquest, I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to dig deeper into this era of history.