by Frank McLynn

In this new study, underpinned by biographical sketches of the great warriors who fought for the crown of England in 1066, Frank McLynn shows that this view is mistaken.

Both William and Harold were fine generals, but Harold was the more inspirational of the two.Making use of all the latest scholarship, McLynn shows that most of our 'knowledge' of 1066 rests on myths or illusions: Harold did not fight at Hastings with the same army with which he had been victorious at Stamford Bridge three weeks earlier; the Battle of Senlac was not won by Norman archery; Harold did not die with an arrow in the eye.

McLynn shows that he was probably the greatest warrior of the three and that he, in turn, lost a battle through unforeseen circumstances.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.05
  • Pages: 336
  • Publish Date: September 2nd 1999 by Pimlico
  • Isbn10: 0712666729
  • Isbn13: 9780712666725

Read the Book "1066" Online

The author provides us with detailed histories of the principals involved in the battles of the titular year and outlines the events and personalities that combined to bring about the Battle of Hastings. Mr McLynn has calculated how many tons of hay were required for the livestock, speculated on the extent of forests that had to be chopped down to build ships, and even goes so far as to consider how much labor and resources were required to provide the destriers with horseshoe nails.

Harold Godwinson comes off especially well, even set against the Norman cunning of Duke William, the bastard heir of Normandy who only survived to his majority through the devotion of his mother's family and unruly nature of his competition; the fjorded scheming of Harald Hardrada, the Norse king whose battle prowess was unmatched ere he was slain at Stamford Bridge whilst in berserker mode; not to mention the treachery from his fire-veined brother, Tostig Godwinson, an attestation of the trouble inherent in any sovereign having competent and aggressive siblings; indeed, were it not for the accumulated weight of lopsided misfortune, the ferocious Saxon war machineparticularly its spear-thrusting and axe-hewing Housecarl cadremight have carried the day against the famed Norman cavalry in deciding the last and most momentous of the triadic titular battles.

The arrow in the eye is actually not really written about in the early histories, it only came up later, which leads historians to believe that possibly Harold was the second figure, and the fact that he was singled out and ridden down from a hand picked group of Knights. Frank McLynns book details the main figures of this pivotal year, starting from Edward the Confessor, Earl Godwin, Harald Hardrada, William of Normandy and Harold Godwineson.

The author points out that Harold Godwinson almost certainly left his fyrd in the north, marched his housecarls south, and met William at Hastings with a new fyrd.

He discusses at length which sources are reliable and which are Norman propaganda, and for these reasons, this is a worthwhile book for all but the most scholarly readers.

McLynn does not go into great detail on the major battles, indeed they only occupy the final two chapters of the book, but he does provide a quite comprehensive look at the political events which allowed the situation to play out as it did.

The detailed biographies of the various protagonists is enlightening to say the least - a bloodthirsty lot, who were mostly very experienced and proficient in the art(s) of war!

McLynn gaat uitvoerig en op levendige wijze in op de achtergronden en de hoofdpersonen in 1066, het jaar waarin de Angelsaksische koning Harold Godwinson eerst de ontzagwekkende Noorse koning Harald Hardrada verslaat bij Stamford Bridge om vervolgens zelf ten onder te gaan in de slag met Willem de Veroveraar bij Hastings. McLynn rekent af met veel Norman propaganda (waartoe ook het tapijt van Bayeux moet worden gerekend naast het werk van Willem van Poitiers), zoals de veronderstelling dat Harolds voorganger Edward de kroon aan Willem de Veroveraar zou hebben beloofd en Willem dus met de invasie slechts zijn recht kwam halen. Ook is Harold bij Hastings volgens McLynn niet om het leven gekomen door een pijl in zijn oog, maar werd hij gedood door Normandische ridders die hem eerst met een lans doorboorden, hem vervolgens onthoofden en zijn been aangenomen wordt: zijn edele delen afhakten.

While McLynn does a great job at creating the background and shedding light on all the major players of England's fateful year of 1066, he is just a bit too dry to properly tell a story that have the potential to make certain HBO Blockbuster series seem tame by comparison. McLynn does a good (not great) job building the scene and you are a good halfway through the book before we even get to the title year of 1066.

The author manages to capture a snapshot of northern Europe in the 11th century culminating in Williams invasion of England without making it too overwhelming.