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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Norman Conquest
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on 12 March 2015
This is well written, flows nicely and discusses the sources as well as the chain of events. Enjoyed it immensely.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2013
A wonderfully written book. The prose flows in a lucid manner making it easy to understand. The research is wonderful backed up by endnotes and a bibliography as is absolutely de rigeur for a monograph on history.

The hardback is a bit of a fraud when it comes to binding though. The pages are not sewn in signatures like an authentic hardback and the paper used is cheap, mass-market paper.

Basically, the hardback is actually a mass-market paperback with hard covers glued on and a nice dust jacket. Given that the book is printed and "glued" (allegedly bound but let's face it, it's not bound, it's "glued") in Britain in the 21st century, it's a bit tragic that this should be so.

Five stars for the work itself.

Two stars for the binding of the physical book.
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on 5 March 2015
after reading this book it has stretched my knowledge of English history so much further
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on 26 January 2015
Great read. Well worth it if you want to know all about the conquest of England.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2013
"The Norman Conquest" by Marc Morris is a comprehensive history of the Norman invasion, covering the whole life time of William the Conqueror. Its style would be easy to read if it was not for the fact that Marc Morris insists on justifying every point he makes by discussing all the evidence that led to that conclusion. This can mean the narrative drags as he deals with each piece of evidence and explains why he feels some sources are more believable than others.

In the end though he is still forced to take sides and I had the feeling that his sympathies lie more with the Normans than the Anglo-Saxons. His portrayal of Earl Godwin and his family make him sound like some sort of 11th Century English Mafia. While at the same time he makes no comment on William's extremely slim claim to the English throne and his plan to take the throne by military force. In fact Marc Morris argues that the most legitimate heir to the throne was Edgar the Aethling, which may well be true but he admits himself that the succession was determined by the majority of the Earls and they had clearly chosen Harold Godwinson, who was the most influential.

The Battle of Hastings is covered in one chapter and is mainly a discussion of the conflicting accounts of the battle. There is very little information on the weapons and tactics used, which I have read in more detail in other books.

I was also dissapointed to find few details about the different cultures of the Anglo Saxons and the Normans to help explain why there was such resistance to a Norman king. Marc Morris seems almost surprised at the uprisings that occured after the Battle of Hastings and makes no judgements on the morality of the Normans "Harrowing of the North". In any discussion of the invasion it would be this clash of cultures which I would have thought would be the most important aspect.

Where this book does show its quality is in providing a broad overview of the whole period of the Norman Invasion, allowing the reader a very useful and informative reference on everything from the birth of Edward the Confessor to the Doomsday book. You get to see how the English people were ruled alternately by Anglo Saxon kings, Danish Kings and Norman kings in a very short space of time. I would have liked to have seen more detail about the different cultures and the military history of the period, but this is still a good starting point for anyone reading about the Norman Invasion and its immediate aftermath.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2013
Really pleased with this book, thought it was a smoother read than 'a great and terrible king.' The conquest was a tragic event and mr.morris does it justice giving a fair hearing to both sides. One does wonder what the UK would have been like without the conquest? I suspect that the warrior caste of the norman knights set the seeds for British expansion and this includes the ill fated subjugation of Ireland. As I understand, anglo-norman descendants still hold most of the land ownership in the UK; I would have liked Marc Morris to have mentioned this. Otherwise, well worth reading to understand British history. I see the conquest of the English as a prelude to the conquest of the Welsh and Irish.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2013
This volume by Marc Morris is a substantial work which relates most of the generally accepted details surrounding the Norman invasion and subsequent conquest. From an academic perspective it is sufficiently comprehensive, but this can unfortunately draw readers that have no prior knowledge of the events surrounding the Norman Conquest into accepting blindly much of his narrative as being unquestioned fact. Morris has his own predetermined viewpoint, but as a professional historian he has a duty to inform his readership of all possible alternative arguments in order to not only enforce his own conclusions but to stimulate discussion where fact and/or primary sources and evidence are in dispute. This he fails to do, choosing instead to lead the reader in only one direction, expecting them to unquestioningly accept his version of events without giving them other creditable primary and secondary source information to make up their own minds.
Consequently, there are several dubious conclusions and flaws; examples being 1) his over-criticism of the Godwinssons when compared to his understated comments on the Norman treatment of the Anglo-Saxon peasantry, 2) the standard Pevensey landing is reiterated without consideration of the latest data on the topography of the coast-line in the eleventh century, and 3) his adherence to the idea that Edward the Confessor promised the throne to William in 1051 and supported William's 'claim' to the English throne, which is illogical and extremely disappointing at an academic level. These examples are evidence of his one-sided approach to the subject, almost verging on pro-Norman. Educated readership requires to know when something is fact, to be given the evidence for that fact, and for it to be made clear when something cannot be proved when it is only an opinion. This book unfortunately has too many hazy areas which Morris fails to discuss in a neutral way. All in all, it is a basic starting point for those people that know very little about the Norman Conquest. However, it fails to expand upon other better works which cover this period and is overly affected by the author's apparent fixed approach to his subject.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2015
I started reading more and more books about the History of Britain. I wanted to get a good understanding about the events leading up to the William the Conqueror and I must admit this book was well worth the read. I gave a good account about the major players involved both at home (England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) along with both William's Normandy and other French connections. Well worth a read, I really enjoyed reading this over Christmas 2014 and into 2015.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2015
The more I read the more anger I felt against the Norman invasion , and how much of a disaster the loss of the battle of Hastings was to the entire country. Change of language, the ancient English saint's relics destroyed, the massacre of thousands of English from every level of society etc, a very enjoyable read but very sad at the same time.
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on 5 August 2014
this went with the other book thank you
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