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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — by David Howarth. 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.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published August 27th by Penguin Books first published More Details Original Title.
Hastings, England. Other Editions 9. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about , please sign up. Not sure I buy the idyllic picture of pre peasantry life in England depicted in the first chapter. Does anyone know of any sources to back up this depiction? Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Year of the Conquest.
Nov 23, Jason Koivu rated it really liked it Shelves: history , war , favorites. 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 imagine 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 Harold. The poor sod undergoes trial after trial in a surprisingly short period of time There's a sea voyage that ends in a shipwreck and a greedy count's dungeon.
There is a conniving, backstabbing brother. There 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 to , Harold 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.
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: history , war.
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! I almost drew little hearts in the margins. May 24, John David rated it really liked it Shelves: medieval-or-renaissaice-history.
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: take it with a grain of salt and depending on how interested you are in the subject, consult more scholarly sources. 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.
View 1 comment. Jul 10, Leonard Pierce rated it really liked it Shelves: history. Most of what we learn of history in school is still driven by the reading of mankind as a record of impressive figures who rose to great moments, and by the memorization of significant dates in which those figures chose to exert their will on the world.
But we have come to understand that these figures were often hapless, helpless, or simply the beneficiaries of good fortune, and that everything from mass movements to ill wind placed them where they were. In his groundbreaking book The Year of the Conquest, British historian David Howarth approached it with a wide-ranging understanding of all the curious factors that made the even what it was, and yet we still encounter many complex and crucial figures, from William the Conquerer himself and the opportunistic Viking hard-ass Harald Hardrada to the ill-fated Anglo-Saxon king Harold Godwinson and his quixotic, doomed brother Tostig.
But more than that, Howarth shows in this slender but compelling volume the many threads of a tapestry that show how one event can be made up of a million little things, and that their ultimate form can take a whole nation in directions no one, not even the principals whose names we are taught to remember, could have possibly intended or predicted.
We learn, for example, how Harold Godwinson was never quite prepared to be king, and was wholly unprepared for the nearly apocalyptic changes that came about from an invasion he ultimately was able to see coming but was helpless to do anything about. We learn about the blustery, violent Harald and how his ego and love of violence — culturally inculcated in him by a Viking worldview he did everything to further — allowed him to be all too easily manipulated We learn that William never had any intention of being a conquerer, and that internal pressures and sheer luck contributed as much to his stunning victory as any qualities of martial prowess or leadership he might have possessed.
And we learn that Tostig was a true wild card, driven by jealousy and resentment and other factors too unpredictable to even speculate on, who, against all odds, found himself almost unwittingly orchestrating the utter demise of the kingdom to which he felt himself entitled. But we do not learn just about these great men. We learn about their wives, their companions, their subjects and their lords, and how each of those exerted their own sort of influence.
We learn that England in the 11th century maintained a feudal society entirely different in character to that of France, and that its corps of knights bore little resemblance to those across the channel, who were essentially the Proud Boys of medieval Europe. We learn that the English king had to do much more convincing of his vassals to get them to participate in any kind of unified action than did his French equivalent.
We learn that the King of Norway was an entirely different creature than his counterparts elsewhere. For reasons that should be obvious, the book begins with a look at the pastoral and curiously eternal rhythms of English country life and ends with the massive upheavals that took place because of the fallout of the Norman invasion.
As has been said about China, so many miles distant, the emperor is very far away. It took years for news of the change in rulership to reach some of the more remote points of the British Isles, despite the vast changes that resulted from the conquest. Those changes were incalculable, and are still with us today. Howarth anticipates those changes and guides us from the very small to the very large with skill and precision. Jun 08, Jessica Worthington rated it really liked it. This book is more storytelling and conjecture, than historical fact.
1066: The Year of the Conquest
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Further proof that the key to good historical writing is not having an argument. Very much a generalist history, but if you want a basic understanding of the events, not a bad book to start with. David Armine Howarth. It 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 of Hastings and changed England and the English forever. Yet the events leading to-and following-this turning point in history are shrouded in mystery and distorted by the biased accounts written by a subjugated people, and many believe it was the English who ultimately won, since the Normans became assimilated into the English way of life.