Monday, July 9, 2012

William the Conqueror's Coming of Age Story

I took a history elective in college titled "Norman Conquest," a class taught by the incomparable Christopher Schlect. He was a busy man, and he had a hard time fitting that class into his schedule--our classes alternated between 6:00am lectures in the student lounge and 8:30pm recitations at the professor's house. We studied through nearly every primary source relating to the Norman Conquest. It was one of the most exhaustive and rewarding bouts of research that I have ever done, and it was a tribute to both the topic and Professor Schlect's teaching that hardly any of the students dropped the course. Because of that class, the history surrounding the Norman Conquest remains one of my most favorite pieces of the past. It's another one of those time periods that I'm determined to turn into a novel someday.

Today I have something a little shorter than a novel to offer you on this fascinating topic. I have a post up on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog called, "William Before He Was the Conqueror."
He was born William the Bastard, illegitimate son of Duke Robert of Normandy, but history knows him as William the Conqueror, first Norman king of England and compiler of the Domesday Book. Many historians focus on the year 1066 and the legitimacy of William’s claim to the English crown. But how did an illegitimate boy across the Channel become powerful enough to make that claim in the first place? What did he accomplish before he invaded England? What did he win before the Battle of Hastings?... (read more)


  1. I'm no fan of William the Conqueror personally, I prefer King Harold.

    Inspirational teachers/lecturers are a great thing when you have them I think. Especially when they are supportive and encouraging too.

    1. Yes, I think my love of history is due, in great part, to the history professor I mentioned. Are you studying history at college right now?

    2. I finished by second year of my BA in Medieval History in May/June and I am starting my second year in September.

      I hope to go further but thanks to the governent and academic authorities that might not happen because of raising fees:(

      I dont remember many inspirational history teachers at school- in fact I was disappointed with the subject there too much 2Oth century and Tudors and little else- what it is like in most places apparently.
      Most of what I know about the Middle Ages is self-taught (not that I mean to sound big-headed) because all I really remember being taught about at school was the Norman Conquest, the Black Death and the Battle of Bosworth- and very little in between.

      It was my parents who are really the source of my love of history and perhaps my Grandmother too- they took me and my brother to jousts and castles from when I was little and my mother always stressed the importance of reading more than one source or text.

      Alongside them I would credit Bede, Simon Schama, Michael Wood and oddly enough Kenneth Branagh (in Henry V) and maybe Shakespeare amongst others for relly exiting my passion and desire to study history.


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