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The Norman Conquest

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,374 ratings  ·  293 reviews
The Norman Conquest 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 book explains why the Norman Conquest was the single most important event in English history. Full description
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published March 29th 2012 by Hutchinson
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Roger Alix-Gaudreau Well, they were originally Vikings, to whom the French king granted the lands of Normandy (hence the name, because the Vikings were "northmen"), to…moreWell, they were originally Vikings, to whom the French king granted the lands of Normandy (hence the name, because the Vikings were "northmen"), to get them to stop raiding the rest of the country. They married into French bloodlines as a way of establishing legitimacy. Their Viking origins make the Norman Conquest a fascinating linguistic event, because although they spoke French, they spoke a form of it that was heavily dosed with Old Norse borrowings, which had the same roots as Old English, which is why so many French words ended up borrowed into English after the Normans conquered England. But, I digress. :-) (less)

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4.11  · 
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 ·  2,374 ratings  ·  293 reviews


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Rick Riordan
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was both fascinating and difficult. The Norman Conquest was such a pivotal turning point in history, I wanted to try to understand how it happened. Morris does an excellent job sifting through the sources and trying to make sense of all sides of the drama. Unfortunately, as Morris points out, our sources are slim and biased. You can’t get a very good sense of the major players as living people. We can only speculate on their motives and feelings. We can’t even be sure what happened or ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
”I have taken England with both my hands.”

Remark after William of Normandy stepped off his ship on the coast of England and fell into the sand (28 September, 1066)


 photo William the Conqueror_zps3xxmi3ef.jpg
William the Conqueror

1066 is a meaningful date in history that should resonate with most people from their school days. It is, of course, the date of the last successful invasion of England. To call it an invasion might be a bit misleading. Approximately 7,000 Normans and a contingent of currish, opportunistic mercenaries from all ove
...more
Steve
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, e-books
When I was in elementary school, I recall looking at an illustrated history book and seeing a picture of William the Conqueror. In the picture he was riding through an English town (London?) with his pointy steel cap, short red beard and grim face, broad shouldered as a linebacker. He had just won a battle, and Harold (I didn't even know Harold was a king), dead at Hastings with an arrow through his eye. I vaguely remember not liking William too much, and that Harold was kind of an unlucky good ...more
Alex
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have, as yet, not managed to find a decent account of the Norman invasion that was both well written and informative. Morris has done an excellent job of both counts. The wonderful thing about this book is that there is a narrative thread, a real sense of an unfolding story. And having not really considered the politics of the period since I was a child, Morris managed to explain everything at a sensible pace without ever making me feel out of my depth in such unfamiliar territory. And the con ...more
Kevin
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Norman Conquest of 1066 was probably one of the most brutal colonisation of a Christian land by another Christian Country ever to have happened, or at least for several hundred years afterwards. Marc Morris chronicles the years leading up to 1066, putting character onto the various important figures involved during the late tenth and early eleventh Centuries. This includes trying to give insight into what was socially occurring in England prior to the invasion and what had gone before. Also, ...more
Geevee
An immensely enjoyable and informative book on one of England’s pivotal moments in history.

Mr Morris presents the events in a readable way that binds the characters, their place in England, Normandy and wider to the lead-up to invasion and the events in medieval Europe that influence strategies and actions. For those looking for a work on the actual battle this isn’t the book; although its coverage whilst brief – in terms of the book itself – provided good insight and detail into what happened
...more
Ton
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall: a very detailed, and very conscientious history of the Norman Conquest of England (exactly what the title suggests…), with a hard look at the evidence, and an interpretation at points which I hadn’t seen before. Some room is made for small bits on architecture, and cultural aspects, but the focus is clearly on the lives of Edward, Harold and William, how they are tied to the Conquest, what actually happened and how it worked out. Biggest plus is how Morris brings the era to life through ...more
Liviu
Very interesting and well-argued book about England in the 11th century, focusing on the Conquest of course but with a long historical prelude that put it in context and with the follow-up difficult establishment of Norman rule after the battle of Hastings as England has had alien kings before but always shook them off eventually, while the Normans came to stay

Definitely recommended
Samantha
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. H
...more
Terri
An accessible non-fiction. Basically expands on what was written in contemporaneous accounts or in accounts written within a hundred years or so after. I feel this one is not really going to give you anything new if you have read books on this period of history before. It is the same old recap with very little new added to the story. My impression is that if you have read little on the Conquest or have read nothing at all, then this book will do you. If you are looking for more supposition and l ...more
Nooilforpacifists
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-history
Fantastic. As picturesque as the Bayeux Tapestry itself. Genuine pleasure to read (though bogged down a bit about 3/4 way though), plus superbly informative. Where historical sources or scholars disagree, Morris is a master tour guide through the material. Didn't need the extensive recapitulation in the last chapter--or. alternatively, read only that as a sort of study guide.
Kristina Church milashus
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book by Marc Morris. "The Norman Conquest", offers the reader a fantastic overview on how England became what it is today. Using sources such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronical, The Bayeux Tapestry, and contemporary sources from both the Anglo-Saxon and Norman viewpoint, Mr. Morris weaves together a fine overview of the times. The book starts with the reign of Edgar in 959, and gives the reader a great overview of the English and Danish rulers of England prior to 1066. The real story picks ...more
Kathleen
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely readable non-fiction that read almost like a novel, it was so entertaining. Marc Morris has meticulously researched and footnoted this fine book, although as a KindleUnlimited I would have to borrow again to utilize that feature.

The Norman invasion is important to many of us to better understand where our customs comes from. My maternal grandfather's family came with the Normans to England and then into Ireland by 1250, this book shone a light on that era for me. I understand why my
...more
Doug
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Norman Conquest by Marc Morris

Starring

William the Bastard (sometimes known as the Conqueror)

Featuring

The ever-popular Athelred the Unready

Those dauntless, dazzling Danes: Cnut and Harthacnut

That pious prince: Edward the Confessor

The harried Highness: Harold II (also unready)

That odious oligarch: Bishop/Earl Odo

and a cast of thousands

This is a highly readable account of the conquest of England by William , Duke of Normandy in 1066. If you are looking for a lot of hard facts, forget
...more
Bettie
Apr 18, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie by: Wanda
Narrated by: Frazer Douglas
Length: 18 hrs and 9 mins
Unabridged Audiobook

A riveting and authoritative history of the single most important event in English history: The Norman Conquest.

Description: 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 new history explains why the Norman Conquest was the most significant
...more
Carol McGrath
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a superb analysis which is extremely valuable for the footnotes. It contains some excellent words of caution on primary source material too. It is succinct and to the point.
Mercedes Rochelle
Considering the wealth of material available about the Norman Conquest, a book needs to be very special in order to stand out. Here, it was refreshing to recognize the Norman Conquest as something that did not end at the Battle of Hastings. In fact, Hastings was just the beginning of a tumultuous campaign to replace one ruling class with another, while subjugating a mutinous population. In fact, by the time Hastings is over, we aren't even halfway through the book yet.

The first few years after W
...more
Speesh
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1066
At one point in 'The Norman Conquest', writing about the Bayeux Tapestry, Marc Morris says; "No other source takes us so immediately and so vividly back to that lost time."

I'll say exactly the same about this book.

It really is an astoundingly well written and well put together book. Easily the Norman period's equivalent of Max Hastings' 'All Hell Let Loose' and Anthony Beevor's 'The Second World War.' For what it's worth, for me, that's the highest praise I can come up with. As with those two, t
...more
Tamara
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a masterpiece. I hope Mr Morris is well and truly proud of what he was able to do with this book, because he should be. He weaves a rich and textured tapestry (see what I did there?) of the eleventh and twelfth centuries in England. His main focus, yes, is the Battle of Hastings, which reconfigured the landscape (literally and figuratively) of the country, but the scope of his text goes beyond this one seminal event as well, exploring the periods before and after the Battle with equal dilig ...more
John
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-history
Well, I'll confess that I never finished this book despite really enjoying it. I was probably more than 3/4 done when I had to stop due to an unforeseen family emergency. I just never picked it back up after a long hiatus on reading any books. By the time I started reading again I was no longer interested in finishing it. Maybe someday I'll try it again.

What I did read I rather enjoyed. The book is a detailed look into the entire period from William's claim to the throne and outrage at the perc
...more
Wanda
Feb 16, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie
16 FEB 2014 -- purchased on the cheap from Barnes & Noble ($1.99). Many thanks B&N. Looking inside, there are maps and family trees which appeal to me so greatly, I may forget to read further (not a chance, the Battle of Hastings (1066) is an extremely important date in history). And, the cover is not done justice here. It is exquisite in-person (or, rather as in-person as my HD ereader will allow). I am thrilled!
Jenn
A very good overview of English history leading up to, during, and following the conquest with disparate historical accounts weighed against current evidence. The stories told of the men (and often forgotten women) are compelling, and provide a great picture of a very important turning point in English history.
Alyson Stone
Book: The Norman Conquest
Author: Marc Morris
Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars

This one was a tough one for me. On the one hand, I enjoyed reading about the Norman Conquest. However, at the same time, I didn’t. I mean, there is only so many ways that you can tell the events of 1066 and what happened afterwards, but still. I have read and watched a great deal about the subject, but Marc Morris just really didn’t wow me.

I will admit at first that I did enjoy the book, but as time went on, it just seemed to
...more
Mia
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Incredible overarching synthesis, weaving back and forth between the Norman and Anglo versions of events. Highly recommended.
Paula Lofting
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Norman Conquest by Marc Morris
"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 s
...more
Gerry
A Duke – an Abbot – and a Horse:
I have yet to write my review on the highly acclaimed Dr. Bates academic biography of Duke William but this book will allow you to find the pleasure of History here much different from Marc Morris. Morris introduces us first to the results of Viking conquests prior to William with King Richard II (grandfather to William) and his son Robert (William’s father.) This is in chapter 5 entitled “Holy Warriors.” Within one small section of this chapter, it is here that t
...more
Nathan Miller
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Even if you think you know everything about the Norman Invasion of 1066, I highly recommend this book. Morris begins a generation before that, to lay out the foundations for events that led to William's conquest, and concludes with the Conqueror's death and a discussion of the ramifications of what he and his sons did to and for England. It's pretty dense, which is one reason it took me a while to read, which in turn means I'll be doing at least a re-skim at some point. The level of scholarship ...more
Jamie Collins
This is a really enjoyable history of the Conquest, although it’s fairly scholarly, and not a light read. Morris begins with the death of the viking king Cnut, who ruled England for almost 20 years, then describes the path by which Edward the Confessor becomes king, and leads to the reasons why William of Normandy might feel he had a claim on the throne of England.

Then the story of the Battle of Hastings, followed by two decades of struggle between the English and the Norman occupiers. The narr
...more
Edoardo Albert
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hands down, the best popular account of what it says in the title on the bookshelves today. What makes this so good is Morris's brilliant balancing of a consideration of the sources with the narrative imperatives of telling the story of what actually happened. That he does this so masterfully is shown by the fact that, until it was over and I was thinking back over it for the purposes of writing a review, I didn't even realise just how he'd pulled off the hardest trick of writing history: embedd ...more
Taylor Kniphfer
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
An utterly incredible retelling of the Norman Conquest which balances both pro-English and pro-Norman accounts of the famous event. Marc Morris is an extremely talented historian, storyteller, and researcher. This book is the defining volume of the most famous and important event in English history. Well done Marc!
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