background sketches

For those who wish to ease themselves gently into the historical background, Michael Wood, Domesday: a search for the roots of England (1986), is a popular, well-illustrated survey. His essays, In search of England: journeys into the English past (1999), include a vivid historiographical account of the 'Norman yoke'.

There are a number of readable introductory sketches by specialists. One of the most recent, and certainly the briefest, is Nicholas J. Higham, The Norman Conquest (1999). The Norman Conquest, edited by D. Whitelock and others (1966) contains four brisk surveys on major aspects of the period, somewhat dated but still useful for the overview they provide. R.H.C. Davis, 'The Norman Conquest', History, vol. 51 (1966), pages 279-86, is a lively sketch of its more important features, while R.A. Brown provides a useful resume of his own book in 'The Norman Conquest', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 17 (1967), pages 109-30. James Campbell, 'Observations on English government from the tenth to the twelfth century', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 25 (1974), pages 39-54, offers a thought-provoking essay on government and administration, topics central to much of Domesday. This, and several other perceptive essays, are reprinted in two collections of his essays: Essays in Anglo-Saxon history (1986), and The Anglo-Saxon state (2000).

On most major aspects of armies and warfare, Stephen Morillo, Warfare under the Anglo-Norman kings (1994), is a brief, up-to-date guide, while R.H.C. Davis provides a brief, iconoclastic account of the role of the horse in Anglo-Saxon culture in The medieval warhorse: origin, development and redevelopment (1989). Davis also surveys the European background to the Norman achievement in The Normans and their myth (1976), a myth he illuminates with his customary flair and cogency (see also Graham Loud in Anglo-Norman Studies, vol. 4). Finally, David H. Hill, An atlas of Anglo-Saxon England, provides valuable and suggestive maps on many major historical themes which relate to Domesday.

The annual volumes of Anglo-Norman Studies since 1979 contain an assorted collection of essays on subjects ranging from the Bayeux Tapestry, Domesday Book, Anglo-Saxon military organisation, and the Norman military revolution, all of them interesting, some important, and most of them not overlong.