Arguably, David Howarth’s The Year of the Conquest is a succinct account of the major events that characterized the historic buildup to William the. The year is one of the most important dates in the history of the Western world: the year William the Conqueror defeated the English at the Battle. Trove: Find and get Australian resources. Books, images, historic newspapers, maps, archives and more.

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Return to Book Page. Preview — by David Howarth. The Conqeust of the Cinquest by David Howarth. Alternate cover for ISBN 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.

Paperbackpages. Published August 27th by Penguin Books first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions aboutplease sign up. Not sure I buy the idyllic picture of pre peasantry life in England depicted in the davkd chapter.

Does anyone know of any sources to back up this depiction? Lists with This Book. Nov 23, Jason Koivu rated it really liked it Shelves: The last time England was successfully conquered by a foreign army? David Howarth takes a nearly thousand-year-old historical subject well known by every British kid before they were allowed out of school I’d howwarth and retells the story in a most readable, almost fairytale way.

This is not the most scholarly text on the subject, but it is one of the most enjoyable I’ve read. It’s especially enjoyable if you like a good underdog story, one where that lowly hero doesn’t even win, but rath The last time England was successfully conquered by a foreign army? It’s especially enjoyable if you like a good underdog story, one where that lowly hero doesn’t even win, but rather ends tragically with an almost martyr’s death King Harold He was the son of a kingmaker, who held no hereditary right to the throne, but who seemingly was given it by an almost democratic majority of lawmakers abiding by the apparent wishes of the previous king.

If Howarth is to be believed, Harold didn’t even particularly want the throne, but was essentially thrust into it in order to fill a vacuum of power before the monarchy became weakened by a lack of leadership.

Howarth does a marvelous job of creating empathy in the reader for Howsrth. The poor sod undergoes trial after trial in a surprisingly short period bj time There’s a sea voyage that ends in a shipwreck and a greedy count’s dungeon. There is a conniving, backstabbing brother. Conquesy is a viking king, one of the last of his kind, making a last ditch stab at glory by attempting to seize York, the seat of power in northern England.

And then there was Harold’s mortal enemy William the Conqueror William was born the bastard son of a Norman duke.

In the treacherous times that were 11th century Normandy, William was lucky to escape childhood with his life. He grew up in the warrior’s world and knew one thing, how to fight, and he did it very well. From all accounts, it seems that just prior toHarold spent time as William’s guest. During this time – and there is MUCH debate over – William felt he’d come to an understanding with Harold that when the time came Harold would aid his ol’ pal Will who may actually have been holding Harold hostage in claiming for him the English throne, based on William’s rather weak and distant line of heritage.

When England decided she preferred local boy Harold over a bastard foreigner who didn’t even speak their language, William was incensed to say the least, incensed enough to lead one of the most ambitious invasions of the era.

When people think “” they often think of the Bayeux Tapestry Highly regarded by historians, the tapestry is the story of the Battle of Hastings and the events leading up to it.


David Howarth’s is another version of that same story. Some will see this as blatant revisionism, because some don’t read the fine print, and the print isn’t all that fine. Howarth is straightforward in saying that some of his theories are just that, theories that can not, and may never, be proven.

But what’s the difference between guessing at history that way as opposed to taking the word of the winners? William the Conqueror commissioned his version of history by way of victory. No scribe of the era wishing to retain his head was going to write anything but glowing praise of the man now in charge.

1066 : The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth (1981, Paperback)

And should we listen without a skeptical ear to the historians who wrote their own versions of The Battle of Hastings some or years after the fact, from which much of the past century’s “scholarly” work on the subject has been derived?

They weren’t there for it and knew no more than what the accounts of William’s men tell them. Certainly, Howarth’s is a liberal view of the Battle of Hastings, with the author’s bias quite apparent. Having said that, it’s still quite an enjoyable look from a different perspective on the event that changed England’s future in a big way, the last successful invasion by a foreign enemy. View all 15 comments. Feb 10, Laura rated it really liked it Shelves: Even better, Howarth was an accomplished sailor, so he can offer educated speculation about the logistics of crossing the English Channel in various vessels — with war horses!

My favorite aspect of his writing style is his matter of fact tone: I almost drew little hearts in the margins. May 24, John David rated it really liked it Shelves: But the most popular battle of the Norman invasion takes up only one chapter of the book, with much of the rest providing a cultural and social history within which you can get a better understanding of the historical arc of the entire year.

A rudimentary description of the feudal system is given in the first few chapters replete with earls and thanes. Howarth seems to think that Edward had somehow promised William the throne in the last years of his life, and was nonplussed when Harold was immediately selected by the Witenagemot, the Anglo-Saxon advisory council that served the king. Harald Hardrada and Tostig both die in what is maybe the penultimate battle of the Norman invasion, the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

There are no footnotes, and there is a lot more conjecture — sometimes couched in the language of verifiable historical record — than I am usually comfortable with. I would approach this as I would any book of popular history: But for all of that, it is engagingly written, and serves as a nice foot in the door for those who want to learn about the major events and the important near-contemporary historians like William of Malmesbury through which we know much of what happened that year.

Jun 08, Jessica Worthington rated it really liked it. This book is more storytelling and conjecture, than historical fact. The author says this in the beginning, because there is not enough history about it, plus the history it does have are written by the invaders to make them and their leader look more favorable. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

The storytelling was on point and kept the reader interested. May 19, Erik Graff rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Bookman’s Alley in Evanston is closing, the owner being up in his eighties. Since the announcement in the papers months ago there has been an ongoing sale, prices on the used books and paraphenalia going down thirty, now fifty percent.

I picked up this slender volume along with a few others on the last walk to visit that place, the Amarynth and the Public Library, Bookman’s owner assuring me that he’d be around for at least another month.

Those were good, but personal. This is more objective, more a straight attempt at historical reconstruction, yet still personable, a pleasant read all around. As promised, Howarth’s examination of the Norman conquest and the events leading up to it shattered a lot of my preconceptions about while broadening and deepening my understanding of the Norse, English and Norman cultures involved.


While good as an introduction to the period, the work is not juvenile, explicit attention being paid to the sources and the interpretative controversies arising from them. Sep 04, Jordan Hatch rated it liked it. The tale of the conquest of England by the Normans has been shaped like usual throughout history by the victors. This examination of the conquest and the events preceding it draws from both English and Norman sources.

It is an interesting read and the author does a good job of describing the time period but it wasn’t a page turner. View all 3 comments. Mar 12, Donna rated it really liked it. A great little book that chronicles the infamous year in English history that began with the death of King Edward and ended with the battle of Hastings and the ascension of William the Conqueror, changing England forever. Howarth carefully compares the subjective written accounts of these events and offers his own reasoned opinions.

Although William’s conquest might appear inevitable to us today, Howarth offers any number of happenstances that occurred which could have changed the outcome – from A great little book that chronicles the infamous year in English history that began with the death of King Edward and ended with the battle of Hastings and the ascension of William the Conqueror, changing England forever.

Although William’s conquest might appear inevitable to us today, Howarth offers any number of happenstances that occurred which could have changed the outcome – from the Pope’s blessing to the shifting winds to how much wine was carried. He also gives us a wonderful glimpse of everyday life in the typical English village of Horstede both at the beginning and at the end of this fateful year.

David Howarth was already an accomplished writer when he began his research, and the finished work, published inshows him at the peak of his descriptive and narrative powers. The author begins by summarizing life in 11th-century England, characterizing the late Anglo-Saxon kingdom as quiet, self-sufficient, rural, and isolated.

This may be a little romanticized – the Anglo-Saxons, unlike their Norman successors, practiced slavery after all — but it creates an appealing contrast to grimly militaristic Normandy, and to the fire and sword William brought to his new domain.

Peaceful as its subjects’ lives may have been, England was, at the level of the royal court, unstable.

Review of The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth – Essay Sample

It had until fairly recently been under Danish rule Yb Knut et ocnquest. Howarth notes there were multiple claimants to the throne, all of whom wound up fighting for it before the year was out. Harold Godwinson, elected king by the Anglo-Saxon witan, wore the crown until the Battle of Hastings; Harold’s hapless brother Tostig mounted a failed invasion in the spring, then fled to Norway; King Harald Hardrada of Norway, “Last of the Vikings,” was persuaded by Tostig to add England to his holdings, and pressed his claim at the Battle of Stamford Bridge; and William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, then destroyed Harold’s exhausted army at Hastings.

Howarth gives thoughtful character sketches of each of these actors, and fine and pithy descriptions of rural village life, of the two coronations that bookended the year Harold’s and William’sof the primitive ships that William somehow used to bring his army and war horses to England, and of the climactic Battle of Hastings. His account of that fateful encounter is brilliant, from his description of the eerie silence of pre-modern battles to his analysis of the two leaders’ strengths and weaknesses: William’s familiarity with the tactic of feigned retreat, Harold’s own demoralization stemming from a Papal endorsement of William’s claim and the breakdown of command and control over what was, for the Anglo-Saxons, a large army.

The book’s exciting story ends on a baleful note, with the new king laying waste to “thousands of square miles” ydar English countryside during his reign, killing twenty percent of the English population by the sword or through starvation, and covering his kingdom with castles and garrisons.