Like Garfield's contribution (below) to the same series, this was written for English children who might be expected to understand unexplained references to ""Edward,"" ""Harold,"" exclusive public schools, and the Privy Seal. Nevertheless, for older readers who appreciate a keener glance than overviews of this length (a mere 128 illustrated pages) usually supply, Barber's familiarity with the period pays off in telling anecdotes and details. Quoting frequently from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Piers Plowman and other contemporary sources, Barber acquaints us, for example, with the incredible tortures perpetrated in the early Norman castles. . . the ills that befell an unsuspecting countryman in London, that ""sovereign of cities"" boasting some 30 thousand souls. . . and the sporting nature, for knights, of both tournaments and wars--where the casualties were mostly ordinary soldiers and local residents. There are other bits--about Latin proving a universal language only when written down, about schoolboys reciting at length in Latin they couldn't translate, and about the architecture and social role of churches, where the bells still rung at high moments of the Mass were first used as a call for the gossipers to be silent. A ""human interest"" history.