Post-classical history

Empires of the Normans: Conquerors of Europe

Empires of the Normans: Conquerors of Europe

14th October 1066.

As Harold II, the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England, lay dying in Sussex, the Duke of Normandy was celebrating an unlikely victory. William "The Bastard" had emerged from interloper to successor of the Norman throne. He had survived the carnage of the Battle of Hastings and, two months later on Christmas day, he would be crowned king of England. No longer would Anglo-Saxons or Vikings rule England; this was now the age of the Normans.

A momentous event in European history, the defeat of the Anglo-Saxons had the most dramatic effect of any defeat in the high Middle Ages. In a few short months, the leader of northern France became the dominant ruler of Britain. Over the coming decades, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom would be rebuilt around a new landowning class. During the next century, as the Norman kings laid the foundations of modern Britain, their power would spread irresistibly across Europe. From Scandinavia down to Sicily, Malta, and Seville, the Normans built magnificent castles and churches. They cerated a new Europe in the image of their own nobility, recording their power with unprecedented vision, including the Domesday Book.

Empire of the Normans tells the extraordinary story of how the descendants of Viking marauders in northern France came to dominate European, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern politics. It is a tale of ambitious adventures and fierce pirates, of fortunes made and fortunes lost. Across the generations, the Normans made their influence felt across Western Europe and the Mediterranean, from the British Isles to North Africa and even to the Holy Land, with a combination of military might, political savvy, deeply held religious beliefs, and a profound sense of their own destiny.


Chapter 1. Beginnings: Strange Men from a Strange Land, The Lower Seine, c.911–42

Chapter 2. Consolidating a Colony: Rollo’s Heirs, Normandy, 942–1026

Chapter 3. Queen Emma, Jewel of the Normans: England, 1002–42

Chapter 4. Edward the Confessor: A King Across the Sea, England, 1041–66

Chapter 5. William I: A Conquering King, Normandy and England, 1035–66

Chapter 6. Court Propaganda: The Case for Conquest, 1066–84

Chapter 7. The Bayeux Tapestry: Embroidered History, 1066–97

Chapter 8. The Fate of the English: Conquest to Colonisation, 1066–84

Chapter 9. Church and State in Conquered England: Romancing the Stone, 1066–87

Chapter 10. Settling the South: Ironarm in Italy, c.1030–45

Chapter 11. Robert Guiscard: A Cunning Count, c.1040–85

Chapter 12. Under a Byzantine Banner: Into Asia Minor, 1038–77

Chapter 13. Bohemond and the Balkans: ‘A Marvel to Behold’, 1081–5

Chapter 14. The First Crusade: Eastern Promises, 1096–1108

Chapter 15. A Bridge Too Far? North Africa, 1142–59

Chapter 16. Northern Wales: A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing, 1068–98

Chapter 17. Southern Wales: Making a Mark, 1068–98

Chapter 18. Iberia: ‘The Race of the Normans Declines No Labour’, 1147–8

Chapter 19. Scotland: Honoured Guests, 1072–1153

Chapter 20. The Power Behind the Throne: Scotland Under Ada de Warenne, 1153–78

Chapter 21. Strongbow in Leinster: Stealing a March, 1167–71

Chapter 22. Hugh de Lacy: Lord of Meath, 1171–7

Chapter 23. The End of Empire? John and Normandy, 1204

Chapter 24. ‘Wonder of the World’: Emperor Frederick II, 1198–1250

Afterlives of the Normans: A Europe Transformed


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