THE CONQUERORS by Thomas B. Costain


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An exhaustive and scholarly and eminently readable study of the period of the Norman Conquest in England, but scarcely a book destined for popular consumption by the predictable Costain fiction audience. His name will carry it farther than the topic would indicate, in all probability. But the lively interest in that period is a moot question. Even in Costain's able hands the vigorous handling of the background of life and thought occasionally bogs down in the necessarily detailed record of successive rulers, men of their period and representative of its best and its worst characteristics. He starts with the triangular struggle for supremacy, as Harold, chosen ruler, defeated the Norwegians, and was in turn defeated by the Normans, under William. Then follows William's long rule, characterized by his autocracy, his determination- by fair means and foul-to eradicate any glimmer of revolt, his cruelty, his violence, his constructive contribution to the conquered land in the survey of holdings, which came to be known as the Domesday Book. His successors -- in contrast -- made small contribution, but the overall picture of the period which blended the virtues- and the vices -- of Anglo-Saxon and Norman- gives an enriched understanding of a period of which extraordinarily little has been known....The Market? Perhaps some of that perennial market of Davis' Life on a Medieval Barony; certainly some of those who read Costain for his richly tapestried backgrounds; students of the period and those who would know more of the fibre that makes up the stalwart, contradictory Britishers.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1949
Publisher: Doubleday