Volume 1, covering the years 55BC to 1087, tells the beginning of the story: 400 years of peace for the island of Britannia under the Romans before a plunge into the Dark Ages and the invasion of those who would become the English: Angles, Saxons, Danes and Norwegians.
"Making history enjoyable"
Exploring the successful Norman invasion of England in 1066, this concise and listenable book focuses especially on the often dramatic and enduring changes wrought by William the Conqueror and his followers. Hugh M. Thomas considers the conquest's wide-ranging impact by taking a fresh look at such traditional themes as the influence of battles and great men on history and by assessing how far the shift in ruling dynasty and noble elites affected broader aspects of English history.
The descendent of Viking raiders, William the Conqueror, or William the Bastard as he was also known, took the throne of England in 1066. William showed himself to be an outstanding soldier and an extremely effective ruler, combining great fortitude with an unwavering insistence on his own authority. He was a formidable personality, whose political imagination and ruthlessness were the driving forces of the Norman Conquest of England.
William's conquest of England arguably made him the most important figure in shaping the course of English history, but modern caricatures of this vitally important medieval figure are largely based on ignorance. William is a fascinating and complex figure, in many ways the quintessential warrior king of this period.
For 500 years the Saxons ruled England, crushing the ancient powers. But a wave of change approaches. Across the Channel in Normandy, William is born-the bastard son of a duke and a magical woman of Druid descent. As he grows to manhood, William's battle skills earn him respect, but his temper and disregard for his innate magical abilities hold him back. He needs a teacher, whether he wants one or not, and finds one in the beautiful French noblewoman Mathilda.
Red William, the eldest son of William the Conqueror, has inherited the throne and a kingdom free of Saxon Christian influence. But his decision to leave magic out of his rule causes the land to wither and die. Now the fate of Britain lies in the hands of Edith, princess of Scotland, and Henry, the youngest son of the Conqueror. Both are highly gifted in magic, but only the blood of a king will cleanse the land from the evil and pestilence that infects it.
Melvyn Bragg follows his long historical exploration of the Routes of English with ‘Voices of the Powerless’, the BBC Radio 4 series in which he explores the lives of the ordinary working men and women of Britain at critical moments across the last 1,000 years. In the decade following the conquest, the north of England was one of the main focuses of rebellion. As a result, northerners suffered the retribution which William's men inflicted - the so-called ‘harrying of the North’, which began in 1069.
The Bayeux Tapestry is the world's most famous textile: an exquisite 230-foot-long embroidered panorama depicting the events surrounding the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is also one of history's most mysterious and compelling works of art. This haunting stitched account of the battle that redrew the map of medieval Europe has inspired dreams of theft, waves of nationalism, visions of limitless power, and esthetic rapture.
"Hard to get the picture"