1066 – Senlac Ridge, England. William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, defeats Harold Godwinson, King Harold II of England, in what will become known as the Battle of Hastings. But England will not be conquered easily, the Anglo-Saxons will not submit meekly to Norman rule. Although his heroic deeds will nearly be lost to legend, one man unites the resistance. His name is Hereward of Bourne. His honour, bravery and skill at arms will change the future of England.
Gilbert Foliot, Bishop of London, has lived through Henry II’s reign and has witnessed the terrifying civil war between Henry II’s mother, the Empress Matilda, and her cousin, Stephen; a time so traumatic that it becomes known as the Anarchy. The greatest letter writer of the 12th Century, Gilbert Foliot, Bishop of London, gives an intimate account of one of England’s most troubled eras. Central to his account is the life of a knight he first met over 50 years earlier, Harold of Hereford.
1072: England is firmly under the heel of its new Norman rulers. The few survivors of the English resistance look to Edgar the Atheling to overthrow William the Conqueror. Years of intrigue and vicious civil war follow and in the face of chaos and death, Edgar and his allies form a secret brotherhood, pledging to fight for justice and freedom. But soon they are called to fight for an even greater cause: the plight of the Holy Land.
The Western Front is a wasteland of barbed wire, shell craters and mud-filled trenches. Winston Churchill, searching for a solution to the stalemate, commits the Allies to a disastrous Gallipoli campaign. As men on both sides die in droves, miners and mill-workers work tirelessly for the war effort while families confront the broken bodies of returning soldiers. Nurses, soldiers, politicians, factory-workers and children - all are torn apart by war, and for husbands and sons, mothers and wives, the old way of life is vanishing.
June 1914. The beginning of another long, prosperous summer for Britain. But beneath the clear skies, the chill wind of social discontent swirls around this sceptred isle. Shots ring out in a distant European land - the assassination of a foreign aristocrat. From that moment the entire world is propelled into a conflict unlike any seen before. This is the story of five British communities, their circumstances very different, but who will all share in the tragedy that is to come.