Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 1996.
I have a longstanding interest in early medieval Europe and the Norman conquest of England (it wasn’t a cultural invasion at the beginning, simply a military campaign) comes right at the end of that period, just before the introduction of feudalism and chivalry and all that. I also have a strong background in military history, so I’ve naturally read a good deal about the Battle of Hastings over the years.
October 14, 1066, was a key day in the history of Western Europe, . . . although the issue of “key battles” in historical method and interpretation gets kind of a working-over here. The thing is, from the title, I rather expected this to be a collection of essays in reconsideration of the political lead-up, tactical details, and outcome of the battle — something similar to the annual “Battle Conference” proceedings, most of which I’ve read — but it’s not that at all. Instead, it’s a collection of readings from the past, the sort of volume produced solely for the use of college students who are beginners to the subject, in order to give them a running start on the major issues, the original sources on which they are based, and their interpretation by past experts. So we have here a series of excerpts from William of Poitiers, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and so on, followed by a dozen essays or book-chapters going as far back as Edward Freeman and including offerings from Chibnall, Hume, and other well-known scholars (and including Morillo himself — one of the privileges of being the editor of a product like this). All this may be of interest to the grad student just entering the field of Anglo-Norman studies, but it unfortunately has little to offer anyone who has been reading in the subject for very many years.