1066: The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth
Genre: History, Nonfiction
Dates Read: January 12-31, 2019
Synopsis: Everyone knows 1066 as the date of the Norman invasion and conquest of England. But how many of us can place that event in the context of the entire dramatic year in which it took place? From the death of Edward the Confessor in early January to the Christmas coronation of Duke William of Normandy, there is an almost uncanny symmetry, as well as a relentlessly exciting surge, of events leading to and from Hastings.
This book was written and researched very well. It’s interesting to see how much of our knowledge of the events leading up to, during, and following the Battle of Hastings relies on so much conjecture, simply because the few records which exist often conflict with one another.
One thing I found particularly interesting is that Edward the Confessor might have been gay and that homosexuality was widely recognized and pretty much accepted back then. Despite that, he still didn’t have any children because, even in marriage, he wanted to be “pure.” Sure, Ed.
The image at the top of the book is a small section of the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the battle from beginning to end. You can check out the entire thing here.
I seriously underestimated how much effort I’d have to put in to read this. “Only about 200 pages?” I thought. “Surely, I can finish that in a day or two.” Nope. I really had to be in the mood to read it, and when I was, I didn’t read much at a time.
Honestly, there’s not much for me to add to this review. The book was published back in 1977 (it’s not even available on the Kindle!), so there are tons of much better, in-depth reviews out there to read if you want. As I’m no historian, I pretty much just take in what I read in history books and can only review the writing. This is a really good book. I gave it only three stars because it can be a bit dry, even though the contents are very interesting. I’m currently reading through the English history books I’ve accumulated over the last few years, from the Battle of Hastings through the Victorian Era — and what a good start this was.
Favorite Quote: “They never became Norman; they remained most stubbornly English, absorbed the invaders and made of the mixture a new kind of Englishness. (201)