serious introductions

There are a number of scholarly but reasonably brief introductions to the historical background. R.A. Brown, The Normans and the Norman Conquest (second edition, 1985), is perhaps the best introduction, despite the fact that much of what he has to say is contentious, even partisan. Frank Barlow, William I and the Norman Conquest (1965), is an excellent short biography of the Conqueror, and David Bates, William the Conqueror (1989), the best short up-to-date account of his reign. Both H.R. Loyn, The Norman Conquest (1965), and D.J.A. Matthew, The Norman Conquest (1966), are readable and intelligent surveys. Ian W. Walker, Harold: the last Anglo-Saxon king (1997), and Nicholas J. Higham, The death of Anglo-Saxon England (1997), provide a number of new insights on the end of the Anglo-Saxon state. Brian Golding, Conquest and colonisation (second edition, 2001), is a brisk survey which is particularly useful for the background to 1066 and the settlement which followed.

For the longer perspective Peter H. Sawyer, From Roman Britain to Norman England (second edition, 1998), and P.A. Stafford, Unification and conquest: a political and social history of England in the tenth and eleventh centuries (1989), are valuable and often thought-provoking. Both make considerable reference to Domesday Book on a wide variety of topics which, in Sawyer's case, reach back to the beginnings of English history. Marjorie Chibnall, Anglo-Norman England, 1066-1166 (1986), reviews and illuminates the century from 1066, with frequent reference to Domesday.
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