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Customer Review

"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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Product Details

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
£8.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime