By Peter Bramley
The History Press, 2012
Publisher’s Synopsis: 1066 is the one date in British history that every schoolchild knows. The victory of William the Conqueror over King Harold at Hastings, and the subsequent imposition of Norman rule over the whole of England and Wales, effectively marked the creation of the country as we know it today. A surprising number of historic sites from this turbulent period survive: battlefields, castles, churches, monasteries. Peter Bramley’s beautifully illustrated field guide and companion to the Norman Conquest gives full details of both the events and the personalities associated with each of these sites, together with the historical background and the reasons for the end of Anglo-Saxon rule. Arranged by region, it covers England, Wales and Normandy, and provides invaluable information for anyone visiting or planning to visit any of the sites connected with the Conquest, as well as anyone interested in the history of this period in general.
Review: One of the wonderful things about medieval history is that there are still many places where you can go and see how people lived and fought in the Middle Ages. Castles, churches and battlefields still remain and can be explored. Peter Bramley’s book is going to be a helpful addition for anyone who is interested in exploring the sites of the Norman Conquest, and the history of the Normans in England.
The book is divided into four sections – a short introduction; a Historical Background that summarizes events in the eleventh century; The Main Protagonists, which gives biographies of 38 individuals from the Norman, Anglo-Saxon or Danish sides, and The Guide by Region, which takes up most of the book. The Historical Background and biographies are summary accounts that give the basics, but they can be helpful in understanding the significance of events that happened at certain places.
The Guide by Region offers descriptions of over two hundred different places, ranging from the Battle of Hastings battlefield to lesser known churches that have some Norman history in them. Bramley gives very useful details – not only does he of give a description and history of the place, but adds in travelling directions and even gives each site a 5-star rating.
A Companion and Guide to the Norman Conquest will be a nice addition to your backpack if you plan on visiting England and France to explore places such as Bayeux, Selby Abbey or Durham Cathedral.