Sunday, 27 September 2009

William I

This is a purple jacketed book. Actually, I can do better than that, I'll just walk over to my bookcase and I can tell you who the author is (I reckon there's probably more than one book called William I, hence the distinction that it's the purple jacketed one...). Maurice Ashley, that's who wrote it. And it was published by the Book Club Associates. I paid about 20p for it. There's a lot of pictures too—mainly of the Bayeux Tapestry which is absolutely amazing, I saw it when I went to Normandy on holiday. It's massive! I can't imagine how long it took them to sew it all.

Apparently, Harold wasn't killed by an arrow. The tapestry's been misinterpreted, it's actually a sword. It still looks rather like an arrow to me, but there you go. We were told it was an arrow, a chance shot, when we studied it in history (think that would've been Year 8 or 9). The Battle of Hastings, according to history at that level, was won by a stray shot, and that let the Normans come to power. Anyway, you still get the impression it was a spot of luck that let William the Conqueror (or William the Bastard as he was apparently known back then, being illegitimate and all, which they definitely don't tell you in history :D) managed to go from being the Duke of a rather tiddly little country called Normandy to also being the King of England.

One other interesting thing I'd like to pick out is that according to a general history of England I was reading (review later—I'd read the bit on William and decided it made sense to then read the book which was just about William), William brought great sophistication over from Normandy, and helped to make England what it was. Ashley suggests that actually, England was more sophisticated before William came tootling over and mucked stuff up. Certainly there was conflict between the Norman masters and the (all of a sudden) subservient English. I wonder which way round it really was. I reckon the English of back then would probably tell you the Normans mucked things up, while the Normans accused them of being ignorant gits...

It was certainly an interesting period to look at, but I'm not convinced 'The Life and Times of William I' is the most interesting book around on this period. I may have to look for something else about it. The little old book 'A Short History of England' was perhaps more interesting about this chunk of history. But the pictures were nice :D.

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