Friday, April 28, 2017

1066: A New History

1066: A New History
© 2009 Peter Rex


The list of English kings begins with William the Conqueror, but such a list is really a thing of propaganda; although England's patchwork of ancient kingdoms were slow to be united against threats like the Vikings, there was a line of English kings, and an England, that existed before the Normans. In 1066, Saxon historian Peter Rex labors to illustrate how long it took the Normans to truly effect their conquest. After a history of the battle itself, Rex then chronicles the many rebellions which erupted against the 'bastard Duke's' rule. The battles of 1066 (there were three) and the rebellions had the effect of wiping out the English nobility, and allowing for their total replacement by the Normans. Rex notes that the English state's efficient structure allowed William to quickly effect his will even at the shire level. After ten years of intermittent rebellions, England was finally quietened, but the English would have the last laugh: the Normans would, quickly enough, lose first Normandy, and then their French.

Casual readers should note that this is a short but dense book, with more names than the Domesday telephone book.  Parts of it were familiar to me from The English Resistance

9 comments:

  1. Charles Kingsley's "Hereward the Wake" is an interesting take on those events... somewhat of a romance instead of a history; still, it presents features of note...

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    1. Thanks for that! I'd only ever heard of Hereward from Rex.

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    2. Did you know that there's a series of novels about him by James Wilde. I have the first one (imaginatively called "Hereward") in an upcoming 'pile o' books'

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  2. Short but dense indeed....and good to know just how long it took to (mostly) subdue us after the actual invasion and defeat @ Hastings. Resistance interests me a great deal so I found that part of the book fascinating. More to come @ my place of the period and future acts of resistance/rebellion by us troublesome Brits!

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    1. What edition did you read from? The one that came in through interlibrary loan was a small book with text so fine it could have been a pocket bible.

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    2. It was the 2011 edition. Definitely smaller than usual text.

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  3. I would like to read this.

    I know the basics of this period but only the basics. It is such an important and fascinating history.

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    1. If you're very new to the area, I'd probably want to start with something a bit more user-friendly. I mostly read Rex for the anti-Norman attitude, honestly. It's a refreshing change from the usual victors' histories.

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    2. I've found that histories of the period tend to fall (as far as I can tell) into either the pro-Norman 'get over it' camp or the Anglo-Saxon 'resistance forever' camp. Guess which I'm in? [lol]

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