Empires of the Normans: Conquerors of Europe

Pegasus. Aug. 2022. 456p. ISBN 9781639361878. $29.95. HIST
Historian Roach (Æthelred the Unready) presents the medieval Normans as unsurpassed conquerors and cultural influencers who ranged far beyond the blood-soaked fields of 1066 England. Roach delves deeply into the manifold imperial footprints the descendants of Viking Northmen left all over France, the British Isles, Iberia, the Middle East, and parts of Germany. The ubiquitous Normans conquered many kingdoms outside of Normandy, introducing lasting notions of the noble aristocracy, mercy, chivalry, as well as the construction of architecturally astounding cathedrals and castles. Spread so far afield, the Normans soon put down lasting roots in their conquered lands, assuming localized identities over time which mitigated any fragile sense of “Norman” identity. Roach contends that the Normans stood out in an “age of overachievers,” with their greatest legacy being the political and cultural integration of large parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. Roach assiduously interrogates a diversity of medieval sources (some dependable, some less so) to spin a comprehensive and engaging tapestry of the Norman ascendancy as well as its eventual subsummation into the broader European fabric it helped create.
VERDICT This researched and compelling history will be a welcome addition to history buffs.
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