The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England

The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England
By Marc Morris

This book by Marc Morris came out within the past couple of months and so far is getting good reviews.

Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Pegasus; 1 edition (June 4, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1605984515

Book 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 cultural and military episode 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 unraveled, 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; the sudden introduction of castles and the massive rebuilding of every major church; the total destruction of an ancient ruling class.

Review from Publishers Weekly:

“Morris brilliantly revisits the Norman Conquest, “the single most important event in English history,” by following the body-strewn fortunes of its key players: England’s King Edward the Confessor; his hated father-in-law and England’s premier earl, Godwine; Harold II, the prior’s son and England’s last Anglo-Saxon king; and Edward’s cousin William, the fearsome duke of Normandy, known by contemporaries as “the Bastard” and by posterity as “the Conqueror.” Miraculously surviving a Viking invasion, exile, the death of six older half-brothers (from battle, illness, and execution), and his mother’s perfidies, Edward—a descendant of Alfred the Great—took the English crown but was dominated by his father-in-law. Yet to Godwine’s chagrin, Edward chose William as his successor in return for his loyalty. Nevertheless, after Edward’s death, Harold snatched the crown, setting in motion William’s invasion and his own death at the supremely gory Battle of Hastings. In England, William and the Normans ended slavery, dispossessed the English ruling elite of their lands, ushered in an architectural revolution, zealously reformed the Church, and savagely starved the north into submission. Readable, authoritative, and remarkably nuanced, Morris’s history is sublime. 8 pages of color illus., two maps, and two family trees.” (Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW)

The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England

Plantagenets - Dan Jones - Medieval England - Medieval History - Middle Ages HistoryThe Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England
By Dan Jones

Publisher Viking Adult; Revised edition (April 18, 2013)
ISBN-10 0670026654
Pages hardcover: appx 500

Summary:

The first Plantagenet king inherited a blood-soaked kingdom from the Normans and transformed it into an empire stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic history, Dan Jones vividly resurrects this fierce and seductive royal dynasty and its mythic world. We meet the captivating Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; her son, Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and King John, a tyrant who was forced to sign Magna Carta, which formed the basis of our own Bill of Rights. This is the era of chivalry, of Robin Hood and the Knights Templar, the Black Death, the founding of Parliament, the Black Prince, and the Hundred Year’s War. It will appeal as much to readers of Tudor history as to fans of Game of Thrones.

Average customer review on Amazon: 4.5 stars (71 reviews)

St. Govan’s Chapel

Brief history:

Saint Govan (Welsh: Gofan) (died 586) was a hermit who lived in a fissure on the side of coastal cliff near Bosherston, in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales. Saint Govan’s Chapel was built in the fissure in the 14th century on what is now known as St Govan’s Head.

One story says Govan was an Irish monk who travelled to Wales late in life to seek the friends and family of the abbot who had trained him, variously identified as Saint David or Saint Ailbe of Emly. Another story identifies Govan with Gawain, one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table; another that he was originally a thief.

Govan was set upon by pirates, from Ireland or the nearby Lundy Island. The cliff opened up and left a fissure just big enough for him to hide in until the pirates left. In gratitude, he decided to stay on along the cliff, probably to help warn the locals of the impending pirate attack if they were to return.

St Govan lived within a small cave in the fissure of the cliff. This is now reached by a long flight of stone steps, the number of which is said to vary depending on whether one is ascending or descending.

The present small vaulted chapel of local limestone was built over the cave and dates from the 13th century although the site may have been of monastic import Originally St Govan caught fish and took water from two nearby springs. Both are now dry; one was where the medieval chapel now stands, the other, which was lower down the cliff, later became a holy well. A legend says St Govan’s hand prints are imprinted on the floor of his cave and his body is buried under the chapel’s altar. The cave was once a popular place for making wishes.

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Additional resources:

Featured Medieval Historical Fiction Novel

Blood and Honour - John Lincoln - Historical Fiction - Medieval History - Middle Ages History - Anglo Saxon EnglandBlood and Honour – The Battle for Saxony
By John Lincoln
Kindle Edition

Description:

Europe, in the year of the Lord 772

Like a bloody storm, Charlemagne’s armies ravage early medieval Europe, leaving devastation and misery in their wake. They have subdued the kingdom of the Langobards, defeated the duchy of Bavaria; they threaten the Moors in the west and, in the south, the pope in Rome.

Yet Charlemagne has even more ambitious plans: he covets the Saxon territories in the north. The Saxons put up an unexpectedly fierce resistance. When Charlemagne’s troops destroy the Irminsul shrine, the Saxon holy of holies, there ensues a struggle to the death. Led by the legendary Duke Widukind, for decades the Saxons fight savagely for their beliefs and their independence. And they will have their revenge…

The Duke and the Kings will transport the reader right into this legend-shrouded part of the Early Middle Ages. With his story, John Lincoln has woven a rich, dark tapestry of one of the pivotal periods in medieval European history. His historically accurate descriptions rich in authentic detail bring this remote, mysterious world to life again before your very eyes.

So stoke the fire, draw your armchair closer and dive into this wonderful historical novel full of the love, the intrigue, the warriors and the battles of a bygone Europe…

Average customer review on Amazon: 4 stars (34 reviews)

Ethelred the Unready

Ethelred the Unready

Æthelred the Unready, or Æthelred II (circa 968 – 23 April 1016), was king of England (978–1013 and 1014–1016). He was son of King Edgar and Queen Ælfthryth. Æthelred was only about 10 (no more than 13) when his half-brother Edward was murdered. Æthelred was not personally suspected of participation, but as the murder was committed at Corfe Castle by the attendants of Ælfthryth, it made it more difficult for the new king to rally the nation against the military raids by Danes, especially as the legend of St Edward the Martyr grew.

From 991 onwards, Æthelred paid tribute, or Danegeld, to the Danish King. In 1002, Æthelred ordered a massacre of Danish settlers. In 1003, King Sweyn invaded England and in 1013, Æthelred fled to Normandy and was replaced by Sweyn, who was also king of Denmark. However, Æthelred returned as king after Sweyn died in 1014.

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Medieval History Term of the Week: Croft

Croft

A smallholding or piece of land with a house. – Cf. Toft and croft

From Alwalton Manor, 1279 (Medieval Sourcebook):

Cottars. Henry, son of the miller, holds a cottage with a croft which contains 1 rood, paying thence yearly to the said abbot 2s. Likewise he works for 3 days in carrying hay and in other works at the will of the said abbot, each day with I man and in autumn I day in cutting grain with I man. 

*Source: A Dictionary of Medieval Terms & Phrases by Christopher Coredon with Ann Williams

Tostig

Early Life:

Tostig was the third son of Godwin (d. 1053), Earl of Wessex and Kent, and Gytha, daughter of Thorgils Sprakaleg. In 1051, he married Judith, the daughter of Count Baldwin IV of Flanders, half-sister of Baldwin V of Flanders, and aunt of Matilda of Flanders, who married William the Conqueror. The Domesday Book recorded twenty-six vills or townships as being held by Earl Tostig forming the Manor of Hougun.

Death:

Hardrada’s army invaded York, taking hostages after a peaceful surrender, and likely agreed with the local inhabitants to gather commandeered supplies at Stamford Bridge, near York, a conveniently central spot, well-fed by streams and roads. King Harold Godwinson raced northward with an English army from London and, on 25 September 1066, surprised Tostig and about 6,000 of his men, basking in the sun and awaiting supplies. The Norwegians and the Flemish mercenaries hired by Tostig were largely without armour and carried only personal weapons. The day was very hot and no resistance was expected. The remainder of the 11,000 man force remained guarding the Norse ships, beached miles away at Riccall.

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Featured Medieval Historical Fiction Novel

Swords of Artaius
High adventure in Celtic Europe

By William H Russeth

Newly released by Wings-Press (Sept 2012), Swords of Artaius is the third novel penned by William Russeth. Set in ancient Gaul 200 years before the Roman conquest. “Swords of Artaius” is a thrilling, fast moving adventure with mythological overtones and a strong element of romance. The fates of two desperate souls collide and they find themselves clinging together in the face of a massive invasion of barbarous Germanic tribes led by the dreadful chieftain, Morga Raven Wings.

Artaius and Lughin run for their lives, watching the invading horde sweep through Celtica, scourging the land, and ravaging the impregnable fortress, Lugdunum. Believing each night together will be their last, they find solace in each other’s arms. Trapped in a mountain top stockade, the last bastion of protection, they make their stand. Their only hope is the rage and sword of Artaius the Bear.

William Russeth’s tale is a blend of fictional and historical settings in Europe prior to the Roman occupation, an era not exploited by many authors.

Background:
Before Romans conquered Europe, the people that lived in Northern Italy and most of Europe were known as the Keltoi to the Greeks and the Gauls to the Romans. Hundreds of fiercely independent tribes populated this area. Celtic languages were spoken from Asia Minor to Spain and from Spain to Great Britain. While they had no written word, their culture was highly advanced. They forged durable iron weapons, wove fine woolen cloth, raised hearty crops, and traded beer for wine with the Romans. Mystical druids, not only acted as judges in their complicated legal system, but also served as doctors, seers, bards, and religious leaders. Fierce chieftains and an elite warrior class ruled the tribes. Romans feared the Celtic tribes and respected them as great warriors. In 387 BCE a famous Celtic chief, Brennus, attacked Rome and exacted a huge ransom in return for not burning the city.

Other novels by William H Russeth:
Cult of Camulos, Wings Press, 2010
Fires of Belenus, Wings Press, 2007
Novels of High Adventure in Ancient Celtica

Available in trade paperback and ebook formats:
Wings-Press:
http://www.wings-press.com/, (Lowest Pricing)
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Swords+of+Artaius
Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Swords-of-Artaius?keyword=Swords+of+Artaius&store=allproducts&iehack=%E2%98%A0
Trade Paperback and all popular Ebook formats.

More information and excerpts at :
Google Blogspot:  http://whrusseth.blogspot.com/

For information and excerpts visit William’s website at:
http://mysite.verizon.net/resr5omo/whrhomepage/

Canute

Canute the Great, also known as Cnut or Knute(c. 985 or 995 – 12 November 1035)

From Britannica:

Canute (I), byname Canute the Great, Danish Knut, or Knud, den Store, Norwegian Knut den Mektige (died Nov. 12, 1035), Danish king of England (1016–35), of Denmark (as Canute II; 1019–35), and of Norway (1028–35), who was a power in the politics of Europe in the 11th century, respected by both emperor and pope. Neither the place nor the date of his birth is known.

Canute was the grandson of the Polish ruler Mieszko I on his mother’s side. As a youth he accompanied his father, Sweyn I Forkbeard, king of Denmark, on his invasion of England in 1013. Canute was left in charge of the fleet at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, and it was probably then that he met Aelfgifu, daughter of an ealdorman (chief officer) of Northumbria who had been murdered with King Aethelred II’s connivance in 1006; she bore him two sons, Sweyn and Harold. Sweyn I Forkbeard was accepted as king of England by the end of 1013 but died in February 1014, and the English invited Aethelred to return. Canute and the men of Lindsey planned a combined expedition, but Canute deserted his allies at Easter and sailed to Denmark, putting his hostages, savagely mutilated, ashore at Sandwich. In 1015 he returned and began a long struggle with Aethelred’s son Edmund II Ironside … After Aethelred died in April 1016, the English witan (council) elected Canute king at Southampton, but those councillors who were in London, with the citizens, elected Edmund. Canute won a victory at Ashingdon, Essex, on October 18, and the kingdom was then divided; but Edmund died on November 30, and Canute succeeded to the whole.

Read more about Cnut.

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