Thursday, August 25, 2016

1066 THE YEAR OF THE CONQUEST by David Howarth

In this very readable history David Howard chronicles the fateful and pivotal year 1066 from New
Year's Day to the end of the year.  The book begins with a very descriptive picture of life in a typical town of England at the beginning of the 11th century, and proceeds to describe the various events and personalities that formed the drama of that year.  As an historian Howard is to be commended for balancing his interpretation of events as he examines the available sources of the time.  The history of 1066 is a history with two viewpoints - one Norman and one English.  It is often said that history is written by the conquerors, and to some extent this is true of English history at this juncture.  Howard, however, sifts through the records taking into consideration biases and excesses, looking for the truth between the lines.  This book is a very readable history and helpful for getting a good picture of what happened that year along with the implications for the years to come.  The author also attempts to flesh out the primary characters of the story, seeing them not as legend would, but in true human perspective, emotions, conflicts, doubts and all.  As one reviewer summed it up: "A model of scholarly popular history." My copy is a Barnes and Nobel reprint from 1993.  The original was written in 1977.  I read this book, in part, to give me a better grounding in the history that begins the four book set of historical novels by Thomas Costain, The Conquerors (1949) that I intend to read next.

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