The outlines are familiar enough, but good to revise the detail, though it will be forever unknown who exactly lied what, who betrayed whom, and which ennobled thug possessed the highest ruthlessness quotient.  This was a good, solid and satisfying read, suffering a little from the disadvantage of being read in bedtime-sized chunks.  The take-home message appears early in the book:

These early knights did not see it as their responsibility to protect the poor and weak.  On the contrary, a large part of their job was to terrorize the lower orders, persuading them to accept the authority and the material demands of the new castellan lords.  (p 47)

Alas, “protection” only in the context of “racket”.  Merrie Englande!

And then there is the curious history of the embroidered (lit. and fig.?) story of the Conquest.  Most of the book is about the travels and interpretation of the Tapestry, and the heirs and successors it spawned.  I would have liked a little more about its physical attributes, but couldn’t really expect it in a general book like this.

And even better – both of these were Bargains, so I hardly have to feel guilty about my expanding bookshelf at all 🙂


2 responses »

  1. Ah the Normans and the Bayeux Tapestry. I once sat through a rather heated and entertaining discussion between an Architectural Historian and an Art Historian regarding the Norman’s incredibly successful strategy of building castles and cathedrals as a physical and visual demonstration of power! Also, I suppose major building projects offered significant employment opportunities for the local population too.

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