Conquests, Catastrophe and Recovery
Beginning with the Norman Conquest of England, these tumultuous centuries and their invasions shaped the languages and political geography of present-day Britain and Ireland.
The Irish, Scots and Welsh fought their battles against the English with varying success - struggles which, like the events of 1066 in England, produced spectacular upheavals and left enduring national memories. But there was still a common enemy- the Black Death - still the greatest catastrophe in their history.
There were significant advances, too. Hundreds of new towns were founded; slavery, still prevalent until the twelfth century, died out; magnificent cathedrals built, schools and universities established; clocks, gunpowder and the printing press. Magna Carta set new standards for holding governments to account and trial by jury won a central place in the legal systems of England and Scotland.
Tracing the political, religious and material cultures of the period, as well as what might have been, John Gillingham seeks to define the ways in which lives changed during these turbulent times. With the words of contemporaries to guide us, we can understand more than ever before about national identities and the differences which came to define and ultimately untie these islands.