The Norman Conquest by Marc Morris

When William the Conqueror was only 19, he fought off a threat to his life and began to win great victories.  He may have been a great leader and fighter, but it is lucky that Prince William isn't anything like his namesake, because he was apparently rather cruel and inhumane.  The Normans wrought a wave of destruction throughout England, according to this book, even carrying out a 'scorched earth' policy that caused a terrible famine in the north and killed thousands of people.  They disinherited the English, displaced them from their lands by building castles, and raped the women.

However, William also stopped the slave trade, and introduced a revolution in law, church reform and church architecture.  His greatest contribution, however, was the Domesday Book, the great survey  of the ownership of land in the Kingdom.  He also regarded his wife with great respect, and she often acted as his Regent.

This book by Marc Morris was well-researched and the history was interesting. Morris discusses everything in great detail, and covers all of the historians' arguments.  However, I could only read a little bit at a time, because there are so many characters involved in this history that it's rather tortuous, and the writing is dry at times.  However, I'm off to read about the great Queen Matilda now!


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