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The Normans: From Raiders to Kings

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  842 ratings  ·  112 reviews

"Lars Brownworth’s 'The Normans' is like a gallop through the Middle Ages on a fast warhorse. It is rare to find an author who takes on a subject so broad and so complex, while delivering a book that is both fast-paced and readable."
Bill Yenne, author of Julius Caesar: Lessons in Leadership from the Great Conqueror; Hap Arnold: The General Who Invented the USAF; The White
Kindle Edition, 254 pages
Published January 3rd 2014 by Crux Publishing
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  842 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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Faith Justice
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: research, ebook
A popular history of the Northmen (Vikings) influence on Europe primarily during a two century period in the Middle Ages. I was aware of the Viking roots of Normandy in France, but had not known they spread into Italy, Sicily, Byzantium, and North Africa, as well as the better known 1066 invasion of England. Brownworth provides a well-written, and adequately researched, narrative of a brutal, cunning, and violence-prone people, who profoundly influenced the boundaries of Europe and Western law d ...more
Alan Tomkins-Raney
A really fun and interesting romp through the middle ages. During the tenth century nobody would have predicted anything of lasting influence to come out of western Europe, but then the Normans exploded onto the scene, bursting into prominence and transforming European and Mediterranean history within the course of two amazing centuries, before fading away, absorbed into the societies they invaded, conquered, and changed forever. This is a quick and exciting read, great for anyone who is curious ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it liked it
A fine and solid introduction to the broad picture of Norman history, with most of the focus on the Sicilian aspect of their conquests and legacy. Somewhat too fast-paced for easy listening (recitation of facts became a blur), but there were some aspects that perked my interest for further reading.
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf-history
Popular history book, no references, but includes a useful A Who’s Who of the Norman World, emperors’ list , Hautervilles family tree, maps and it’s an absolute pleasure to read. Brownworth's storytelling ability is remarkable, I have already read and enjoyed The Sea Wolves: A History of the Vikings, and I’m looking forward to In Distant Lands: A Short History of the Crusades. I would highly recommend this author. ...more
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Lars Brownworth’s first book catapulted to success on the back of a related podcast, and he used the same formula this time. The Norman Centuries has been another good history podcast from him (though very slow, fourteen episodes in four years, and a note saying the next episode is under production is still the most recent note a year later), and his latest book is more directly tied to it than the first time. With Byzantium he covered (in passing) most the entire history in the book, and picked ...more
May 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Forget A Game of Thrones. Someone should make a book and movie series following the descendants of the twelves sons of Tancred de Hautville. Seldom has one family so impacted the their world.

Reads like a history book, which under the circumstances is acceptable. Lots of narrative. Lots of reverses and betrayals. Fills the gap between William the Conqueror and the Renaissance.

A good read.
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Normans were a group that I knew nothing about beyond the fact that they are why part of France is called ‘Normandy’ and that William the Conqueror was one, so I was happy to get this book. It’s a very fast read; Brownworth doesn’t dwell on the details of battles (although the dates and statistics are there) but concentrates on the personalities- and the Normans provided some compelling personalities.

I’d always thought of the Normans as being French, but they were Vikings. At different time
Shirley Schwartz
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Lars Brownworth's book is very well-written and its actually quite easy to read. I received this book from the publisher as an early reviewer book. In the book, Mr. Brownworth covers the entire history of the Normans from the first Viking raid in Ireland in 885 AD to around the middle of the 12 century which was when other forces became much more powerful, The book covers two centuries of European history. The Normans were surprisingly effective in setting up prosperous communities wherever they ...more
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I thought I knew a decent among about the Normans. I mean, I've read a couple of books focusing on Normandy's rulers, and obviously I don't think a British schoolchild gets all the way through education without getting the date 1066 hammered into them and at least a vague idea about William the Conqueror and the Domesday Book.

But! This actually goes a bit further and looks at other Norman rulers, who pushed into Italy and Sicily -- something that I wasn't really aware of as stemming from Norman
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Not what I was expecting - 1066, the Norman Conquest, and all that - but much more interesting. 1/3 Normans in Normandy/England; 2/3 on the Norman kingdom in Sicily. Recommended.

For a further review: .

My copy courtesy Library Thing's Early Reviewers; much thanks!
Sally Abi-Khalil
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s the first time i read a historical book and i loved it!
He summarized 200 years of european history in 200 pages
You can’t put it down and resume later because
1 it is written really well
2 you will get lost a little bit in the timeline
But in general i loved it and recommend it
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Opened my eyes to the lesser known aspects of Norman influence on Southern Europe. Norman vigor seemed to spread and infuse itself into every facet of post-Roman European life and history. Their mastery of violence made them the rulers of lands they had little political experience in how to manage. What they had in their favor was a love of battle where the locals they conquered seldom matched. This also allowed them to easily topple one set of rulers after another where the people's support was ...more
Dave Wallace
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Covers a lot of history and told extremely economically. Easy to read and informative yet somehow a little less than satisfying. Seemingly weighted somewhere closer to an easy read for the layman with (announced) suppositions than a reference for scholars and covering a wide swath, I think it suffers for the clipped prose, could use some more words, maybe a joke or two.
Entering this book knowing almost nothing -- NOTHING -- about eleventh and twelfth century history in the Mediterranean Sea area, I learned a lot. Since I accidentally requested an audio book and I'm not as good a listener as I am a reader, I have to admit that only the overview will stick with me but even that was a tremendous amount of material.

Lars Brownworth's prose seems serviceable. I have to admit that the organization of the book, mostly following individuals, was a little confusing from
Rex Fuller
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
For two centuries, from late in the 10th through late in the 12th, the Normans managed – meaning fought – to get themselves crowned kings in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, Sicily, North Africa, parts of the Byzantine Empire, and Antioch. And the fighting was bloody. Splitting people in half (lengthwise) by sword or battle axe was not uncommon. No sooner was the issue of one battle settled than the victor faced rebellion among the defeated. Unsuccessful rebels faced execution. ...more
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a better "light" history; it was highly readable and taught about a part of history that I did not know much about. I did not know that the Normans were Vikings who settled in France and converted to Christianity. I always thought the "Norman" invasion of England was done by the French. However, the Normans were ethnically Vikings not Latin. For a while the Normans controlled southern Italy,Sicily and northern Africa. When they were in Italy they had close family in England. The Normans a ...more
Beth Withers
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lars Brownworth has written an interesting and detailed history of the Normans that goes far, far beyond what I learned about the Norman invasion in 1066. I am woefully ignorant of much of European history, especially history in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. As a result, I found this book interesting and informative. An added bonus is that the information is written in a very readable manner; it isn't dull or overly detailed. For the casual historical reader or amateur history buff, this i ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Moving briskly, if at the cost of slim detail in some instances, this book covers the experiences of the Normans, the most successful expansive middle ages in the military sphere west of the Turco-Mongol world. Thankfully, its primary focus is on the Norman kingdom in Sicily rather than the more famous England we have already been saturated with. This was the Norman Kingdom I was always interested in learning more about.
John Valesano
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting account of the Norman empire which lasted only a few generations but controlled England, France, Sicily, Central Italy, North Africa, and parts of the Byzantine empire. Who knows for sure, maybe our family has more Norse heritage than Italian.
Heinz Reinhardt
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very good, albeit brief and cursory, look into the legend that is the Normans.
The Normans were originally Vikings. Their founder, Rollo (whose story in history is nothing at all what the cable tv drama Vikings portrays it as) agreed to take the land of Normandy in exchange for a deal with the French King. Normandy itself basically translates into The North Mans Land.
Rollo's baptism and conversion to Christianity (if it was at times not exactly Christ like), set the template for the r
Cameron Flint
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
“The Normas: From Raiders to Kings” by Lars Brownwich is an enjoyable and overall informative read. Unlike many books on this subject that focus almost entirely on William the Conqueror and his ilk from 1066, Brownwich expands his study of the Normans from the cold shores of the English Channel to Byzantium. This way that the author presents this breadth of information is all the more impressive since this book is not long at all and is paced in a manner that would appeal to both a learned medie ...more
Linda Z
Worth Reading

While Norman medieval history is complicated and convoluted, the author still managed to deliver a readable text explaining the important influence of Rollo and the Normans in European development. I like that the book was not overwhelmingly long, but stayed on message. It would have been helpful to have a method of distinguishing the different kings, dukes, conquerors, etc. as many names were duplicated from generation to generation. The author did mention a few notable women, but
As long as you like to read about knights/warlords/thugs/adventurers and their adventures, this book will be an entertaining read for you. The author brings various Norman knights and nobles to life with ease and flair equal to that of the best novelists and provides “historical” entertainment in spades.

Unfortunately, it fails to provide much else and therein, undeniably unjustly so, rests my lingering disappointment with this book. For a reader picking up this volume in hope of finding a deepe
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Although interesting, I found this book to be rather dry, due to the lack of conversations between characters. It suited my purpose, as I was reading for ancestral purposes. However, I would not recommend this to anyone, other than someone with a similar interest. I am currently reading another book for ancestral purposes, but it reads more like a drama and includes interactions between characters. It's a much easier read. ...more
Ian McGaffey
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This was an interesting look at the Normans. It was interesting to learn more about their influence in Italy and Europe outside of England. It always interests me that these lineages dwindle away over time to oblivion when there is such a focus on lineage. I felt there was a strong focus on Sicily which was interesting, but I also wish there had been a focus on the English side as well and even the Normans in Normandy during this same period.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, medieval
Generic but attractive accounts of the history of the Normans.

- Who are the Normans? Where did they come from? √
- How did the Normans transform from wandering raiders to sedentary aristocrats? √
- Why and how did the Normans end up in Sicily? √
- Why and how did the Normans conquer Britain? √
- What important role did the Normans play during the Crusades? √

Informative, but nothing special.

May 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, history
This book covers the history of the Normans and their successes in England, Sicily, and the Holy Land. Most of the book covers Italy and Sicily, which was good for me since these were the Norman conquests I was not familiar with. I was impressed with how quickly the Normans made an impact on the medieval world, and how quickly the faded from the world stage.
Darel Krieger
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
If one is looking for a history of the Normans you would be hard pressed to look beyond this book.
From beginning to end it almost seems as if every page contains a new battle, a new king or a new heir.
There is really little time for it to be a story book as events occur almost continuously that the author had to relate. If you like a no frills history lesson then this is the book for you.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
A good popular history. Was a little disappointed that after William the Conqueror, the narrative focused solely on the Normans that went south, Tancred and his sons, and Sicily and the Holy Land. Great, nonetheless, considering there are many accounts of the Norman families in England but many fewer, it seems on the "Sicilians." ...more
Andrew Hurst
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a really good read. The stand-out fact about the Normans is that they won at Hastings in 1066 but this book goes much deeper into the origins of Normandy with Viking raiders and then explores their spread into Southern Europe. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the transition of the Vikings to becoming European kings.
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Lars Brownworth is an author, speaker and broadcaster based in Maryland, USA.

Mr. Brownworth created the genre-defining 12 Byzantine Rulers podcast, which prompted the New York Times to liken him to some of history's great popularizers. His recent book titled Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization, is available in bookstores and online. He answers questio

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