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The Norman Conquest: A Very Short Introduction

1 rating: 2.0
A book by George Garnett

The Norman Conquest in 1066 was one of the most profound turning points in English history, dramatically transforming a disparate collection of small nations into a powerful European state. But what actually happened? How was the invasion viewed by those … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: George Garnett
Genre: History
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
1 review about The Norman Conquest: A Very Short Introduction

Norman History X

  • Jun 4, 2010
Rating:
+2
The Norman Conquest is probably one of the most significant and momentous events in English history. It has reshaped all of the English society at of the time - from the daily life, over the architecture to the form of English language itself. For instance, it is probably the single most important reason why there are more words in English language that are of Romance rather than of Germanic origin, even though English is considered a Germanic language. Any way you look at it impact of the Norman Conquest is hard to underestimate. And since I consider myself a bit of a history buff, I expected to learn a lot of interesting information from this very short introduction. Unfortunately, my expectations have been largely disappointed.

Any history book that begins by taking cheap shots at current military or political developments starts off on a wrong foot. It is bound to alienate some of its readers, and project our own standards and values onto historical circumstances that have very little to do with how people of some bygone era perceived their world. Fortunately, this attitude turns out to be largely confined to the opening paragraphs, although some of it resonates throughout the book.

My main gripe with this book is that it lacks any clear sense of chronology, and all of the main actors in the conquest are introduced ad-hoc and without much attention to their personal or historical traits. The author seems to be over scrupulous when it comes to analyzing primary historical documents and sources, and tries to bend backwards in trying not to read more out of any particular source than it is absolutely warranted. This might be fine for scholarly works where making too many wild claims is not very professionally responsible, but it fails miserably as book intended for general audience. In essence, this very short introduction fails to tell a simple and straightforward story. Reading it is a bit of a chore and unfortunately falls far short of what a good history book should be like.

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