The definitive account for our times of a pivotal moment in English history
An upstart French duke who sets out to conquer the most powerful and unified kingdom in Christendom. An invasion force on a scale not seen since the days of the Romans. One of the bloodiest and most decisive battles ever fought. This riveting book explains why the Norman Conquest was the single most important event in English history.
Assessing the original evidence at every turn, Marc Morris goes beyond the familiar outline to explain why England was at once so powerful and yet so vulnerable to William the Conqueror's attack. Why the Normans, in some respects less sophisticated, possessed the military cutting edge. How William's hopes of a united Anglo-Norman realm unravelled, dashed by English rebellions, Viking invasions and the insatiable demands of his fellow conquerors. This is a tale of powerful drama, repression and seismic social change: the Battle of Hastings itself and the violent 'Harrying of the North'; the sudden introduction of castles and the wholesale rebuilding of every major church; the total destruction of an ancient ruling class. Language, law, architecture, even attitudes towards life itself were altered forever by the coming of the Normans.
Marc Morris, author of the bestselling biography of Edward I, A Great and Terrible King, approaches the Conquest with the same passion, verve and scrupulous concern for historical accuracy. This is the definitive account for our times of an extraordinary story, a pivotal moment in the shaping of the English nation.
“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”
“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.”
“Stimulating popular history of the 1066 Norman invasion . . . Marc Morris’s new book is an exciting arrival ... a strong and often gripping story, developed with enormous verve, a clear sense of direction and considerable confidence”
BBC History Magazine
“This is a wonderfully shrewd, engaging and readable account of the most pivotal event in English history.”
“The Norman Conquest is a scrupulously researched and well-written book. But it is also that rare thing: a work undertaken with enormous integrity. Dr Morris questions the received wisdom from past scholars, considers the Conquest and its aftermath anew, and expresses his findings with great conscientiousness.”
“A muscular, vivid narrative full of compelling historical insight – not just a brilliantly told story, but required reading for anyone interested in the real 1066 and all that.”