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

Of all the existing accounts of the Norman Conquest, the Bayeux Tapestry is at once one of the most vivid and one of the most ambiguous. Marc Morris's The Norman Conquest uses the tapestry as a starting point, addressing the ambiguities while losing none of the vivacity in its account of the pursuits of William the Conqueror and the events of 1066--creating fresh insight without oversimplifying the facts.

Morris, a medieval historian (A Great and Terrible King), begins not with 1066 and the Conquest itself, but with events leading up to that pivotal moment, portraying England as vulnerable to an arguably less-advanced Norman force despite the country's traditional strengths. Rather than retelling traditional narratives that place one side or the other as heroes and villains, Morris puts the historical record first, drawing out complex questions and highlighting the fact that what we do not know about the Conquest or its key players is as crucial to our current understanding as what we do know--and what we have surmised, theorized or simply made up in the centuries since.

The Norman Conquest vividly brings to life a major turning point in history, emphasizing the upheavals it wrought in English law, language and society--as well as other elements of English life that have remained for centuries the same. --Dani Alexis Ryskamp, blogger at The Book Cricket

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