I really enjoyed Janice Hamilton's The Norman Conquest of England. I thought the layout was great. It was very reader-friendly. The information was clearly presented, very straight-forward. I thought they did a great job in conveying just enough background to make it all make sense. It is important to have a big picture before going into the little details in my opinion.
There are seven chapters and an epilogue: "Anglo-Saxon England," "The Kings of England," "Normandy," "A Question of Succession," "The Battle of Hastings," "After the Battle," "A Blended Society," and "The Conquest Remembered."
I really enjoyed learning about the culture and the times. I really thought they did a great job in providing a framework. The most helpful chapter, perhaps, is "The Kings of England." This chapter takes readers from the 790s (when the Vikings first started raiding) to the death of Edward the Confessor (1065). Readers learn about Alfred the Great, Ethelred the Redeless, Queen Emma, Sweyn and Canute, the Godwin family, Edward the Confessor, etc. I think it is important to grasp the connection between England and Normandy BEFORE the "invasion." Queen Emma was Norman, the daughter of the duke of Normandy, she married the English King Ethelred "the Unready"; at some point (either when her husband was defeated OR when he died) her children with him took refuge in Normandy with her relatives. Emma also married King Canute and had children with him. She saw several of her children on the throne--from both marriages. Edward the Confessor was her son. William the Conqueror was her great-nephew. This truly is a fascinating time period!
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews