HAROLD AND WILLIAM: The Battle for England, A.D. 1064–1066

Benton Rain Patterson, Author . Cooper Square $28.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8154-1165-9

The most famous year in English history, 1066 witnessed the epic confrontation between William, Duke of Normandy, and King Harold, who, killed by the invading Normans during the Battle of Hastings, would be the last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England. An emeritus professor of journalism at the University of Florida, Patterson is unabashedly pro-Harold: "The wrong side, the wrong cause, the wrong man won." Indeed, Patterson refers to William as "the Bastard," and often highlights the Norman's brutality. This anti-William bias, however, doesn't stop Patterson from weaving a highly entertaining narrative. In 1064, England's King Edward sent Harold, who was then earl of Wessex, to Normandy to meet with Duke William. On his way, Harold was kidnapped and held for ransom. William paid the ransom, and Harold then swore an oath to support the duke in his bid to become king of England after Edward's death. Harold would later claim that he swore this oath under duress. For his part, William would call Harold a liar. In January 1066, King Edward died, naming Harold his successor. Upon hearing the news, an outraged William immediately began preparing for an invasion of England. Meanwhile, King Harold's own brother Tostig, with the aid of the king of Norway, led an armed rebellion against the new king. Harold crushed Tostig at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Three days later, William landed his invasion force near Hastings. Harold marched his exhausted army south to meet the Norman foe. Patterson does an excellent job describing the back-and-forth struggle of the bloody battle in this highly accessible work of popular history. 30 b&w illus. not seen by PW. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-7524-2316-6
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-7524-2984-7
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