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New Medieval Books: Empires of the Normans

Empires of the Normans: Makers of Europe, Conquerors of Asia

By Levi Roach

John Murray
ISBN: 978-1-529-39846-5

An overview of the Normans and their history, beginning with Rollo and his Vikings, and expanding to cover England, Italy, the First Crusade and more. It goes beyond the typical overview of the Normans to also cover their presence in Asia Minor, North Africa and Scotland.


For the descendants of a few shiploads of Vikings who settled on the northern reaches of the River Seine c.911, the Normans had come a long way. the following pages are dedicated to understanding how, by a combination of luck, pluck and piety, they achieved this. It’s a tale of ambitious adventures and fierce freebooters, of fortunes made and kingdoms lost. We begin with the legendary Rollo, whose piratical raids on the Seine laid the foundations for the future Dutchy of Normandy. thereafter, we follow his descendants as they achieve dominance in northern France, fighting off threats from Neighbors in Flanders and Anjou. In the following years, we see them launch more daring Ventures come on first to England, where William the Conqueror seized one of Europe’s most valuable crowns; then to Italy, where the sons of the otherwise obscure Tancred de Hautteville created an equally exalted kingdom of their own. From these new bases, the Normans extended their influence further still, settling in Scotland and conquering large parts of Wales and Ireland. More spectacular, if short-lived, was their impact on the eastern Mediterranean, where we would see them come close to toppling the Byzantine Empire. By the time of Frederick’s coronation in December 1212, they’d even supplied the next German king. In an age of overachievers, the Normans repeatedly stood out: their churches were bigger, their leaders bolder, their troops fiercer. This is their story.


Who is this book for?

This book provides a good introduction to the Normans. It’s aimed at more the general reader than other medieval historians and covers quite a lot of material under 300 pages.

The author:

Levi Roach is an Associate Professor at the University of Exeter, where he is establishing himself as a leading historian of Anglo-Saxon England and now more broadly, western Europe in the Middle Ages. You can learn more about Levi’s research on his university webpage or follow him on Twitter @DrLRoach


Levi recently appeared on The Medieval Podcast to talk about Forgeries in the Middle Ages

You can watch this interview Levi did with the podcast Well That Aged Well:

You can learn more about this book from the publisher’s website

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