The history of the Normans began a long time before 1066. Originating from the _Norsemen_ they were one of the most successful warrior tribes of the Dark Ages that came to dominate Europe from the Baltic Sea to the island of Sicily and the borders of Eastern Europe. Beginning as Viking raiders in the eighth century, the Normans not only changed the landscape of Europe but were changed by their new conquests.As a military force they became unstoppable; as Conqerors, they established their own kingdom in Normandy from where they set out on a number of devastating campaigns, where they also introduced innovations in politics, architecture and culture. In A Brief History of the Normans Leading French historian, Francois Neveux, gives an accessible and authorative introduction.
The Battle of Hastings in 1066 is the one date forever seared on the British national psyche. It enabled the Norman Conquest that marked the end of Anglo-Saxon England. But there was much more to the Normans than the invading army Duke William shipped over from Normandy to the shores of Sussex. How a band of marauding warriors established some of the most powerful kingdoms in Europe – in Sicily and France, as well as England – is an improbably romantic idea. In exploring Norman culture in all its regions, Leonie V Hicks places the Normans in the context of early medieval society. Her comparative perspective enables the Norman story to be told in full, so that the societies of Rollo, William, Robert and Roger Guiscard are given the focused attention they deserve. From Hastings to the martial exploits of Bohemond and Tancred on the First Crusade; from castles and keeps to Romanesque cathedrals; and from the founding of the Kingdom of Sicily (1130) to cross-cultural encounters with Byzantines and Muslims, this is a fresh and lively survey of one of the most popular topics in European history.
The Battle of Hastings, Anglo-Saxon and Norman England
Author: Ed West
A riveting account of the most consequential year in English history—with a touch of classic British humor. 1066 is the most famous date in history, and with good reason, since no battle in medieval history had such a devastating effect on its losers as the Battle of Hastings—which altered the entire course of English history. The French-speaking Normans were the preeminent warriors of the eleventh century, and based their entire society around conflict. They were led by the formidable and ruthless William ‘the Bastard’—who was convinced that his half-Norman cousin, Edward the Confessor, had promised him the throne of England. However, when Edward died in January 1066, Harold Godwinson, the richest earl in the land and the son of a pirate, took the throne. What ensued was one of the bloodiest periods of English history, with a body count that might make even George RR Martin balk. With a lively, witty style (and a chapter entitled “William’s Children All Kill Each Other”), this book explains how the disastrous battle changed England—and the English—forever, introducing the medieval world of chivalry, castles and horse-bound knights.
In this colourful new history of Venice, Elizabeth Horodowich, one of the leading experts on Venice, tells the story of the place from its ancient origins, and its early days as a multicultural trading city where Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together at the crossroads between East and West. She explores the often overlooked role of Venice, alongside Florence and Rome, as one of the principal Renaissance capitals. Now, as the resident population falls and the number of tourists grows, as brash new advertisements disfigure the ancient buildings, she looks at the threat from the rising water level and the future of one of the great wonders of the world.
Using wide-ranging evidence, Martyn Whittock shines a light on Britain in the Middle Ages, bringing it vividly to life. Thus we glimpse 11th century rural society through a conversation between a ploughman and his master. The life of Dick Whittington illuminates the rise of the urban elite. The stories of Roger 'the Raker' who drowned in his own sewage, a 'merman' imprisoned in Orford Castle and the sufferings of the Jews of Bristol reveal the extraordinary diversity of medieval society. Through these characters and events - and using the latest discoveries and research - the dynamic and engaging panorama of medieval England is revealed. Interesting facts include: When the life expectancy for women dropped to 26 years in Sierra Leone in 2002, following a catastrophic civil war, it was one year longer than the estimate for early medieval women. So great was the extent of church construction in the thirteenth century that it has been calculated it was the equivalent, in modern terms, of every family in England paying £500 every year, for the whole century! Murder rates for East Anglia, in the fourteenth century, were comparable with those of modern New York. For England generally the homicide rate was far higher than that of the urban USA today.
The Origins of Liberty from Runnymede to Washington
Author: Geoffrey Hindley
Publisher: Hachette UK
2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, the influence of which is still felt today around the world. In 1215 the barons of England forced King John to sign a revolutionary document which would change the political landscape not only of thirteenth-century Britain, but of the modern world. Magna Carta was the forerunner of the constitution that limited the powers of the crown and its echoes can be found in the seventeenth-century Civil Wars, the struggles for American Independence, the work of Thomas Paine and in the bedrock constitutional legislation of just about every democratic country today. As civil Liberties and the rule of law are increasingly brought into question throughout the world, leading medieval historian Geoffrey Hindley breathes vivid life into the story behind the signing of Magna Carta, and reveals the undiminished significance of this ancient document in today’s world.
From the Battle of Hastings to the Battle of Bosworth Field, Nicholas Vincent tells the story of how Britain was born. When William, Duke of Normandy, killed King Harold and seized the throne of England, England's language, culture, politics and law were transformed. Over the next four hundred years, under royal dynasties that looked principally to France for inspiration and ideas, an English identity was born, based in part upon struggle for control over the other parts of the British Isles (Scotland, Wales and Ireland), in part upon rivalry with the kings of France. From these struggles emerged English law and an English Parliament, the English language, English humour and England's first overseas empires. In this thrilling and accessible account, Nicholas Vincent not only tells the story of the rise and fall of dynasties, but investigates the lives and obsessions of a host of lesser men and women, from archbishops to peasants, and from soldiers to scholars, upon whose enterprise the social and intellectual foundations of Englishness now rest. This the first book in the four volume Brief History of Britain which brings together some of the leading historians to tell our nation's story from the Norman Conquest of 1066 to the present-day. Combining the latest research with accessible and entertaining story telling, it is the ideal introduction for students and general readers.