Post-classical history


During my research for this book both the British Library in London and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris moved from their famous, older buildings to equally splendid new homes. What has been lost in historic atmosphere has been readily gained in efficiency and my thanks are due to all the library staff who have assisted me there, as well as to the librarians of Cambridge University Library, the Societe Jersisaise, the Jersey Public Library and several other institutions. I have had the advantage of corresponding with, and sometimes meeting, many of the leading scholars of the Norman Conquest. Too numerous to mention by name, many of their works are listed in the Bibliography. It has certainly been an exciting time to research this period. Many of the leading sources have been republished in authoritative new English editions; researching in libraries, always a pleasure, has been made immeasurably easier with the advent of computerised indexes; and more and more material is becoming freely available on the Internet. My thanks cannot but be due to all the scholars whose expert work I have consulted. Inevitably, however, many questions are left without certain answer; the light of history shines only sporadically on the eleventh century. This remains a personal book, which argues for a new vision of the Bayeux Tapestry.

The passage from the Roman de Rou by Wace quoted at the beginning of this book is rendered in my own interpretation. Where the Roman de Rou is quoted elsewhere, I have used Professor Glyn Burgess' recent prose translation. I am grateful to the Societe Jersiaise for permission to quote from that translation; to Oxford University Press for permission to quote from translations of the various Latin sources published in the Oxford Medieval Texts series; to Everyman's Library for permission to quote from the translation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle by Professor Michael Swanton; to Penguin Books for permission to quote from Professor Burgess's translation of the Chanson de Roland. Further details of these books may be found in the Bibliography. The Bayeux Tapestry has been reproduced by kind permission of the City of Bayeux.

My correspondence with Beryl Platts has been long and (for me) fruitful. Valentine Fallan of W.A.C.E. has kept me abreast on matters pertaining to Wace and has been a source of much information and encouragement. My gratitude is also due to many other people who have volunteered information or helped in various ways, including Catherine Cooper, Nicholas Falla, Rod McLoughlin, Dr S. Pavan and Mark and Julie Temple. I am grateful to the Fellows of Churchill College, Cambridge, for affording me the facilities of the Senior Combination Room during 2000; to the partners of Crills for allowing me a six-month sabbatical in 1998; to them and latterly the partners of Carey Olsen for their continued interest and encouragement; to my agent A. M. Heath & Co. Limited; and to Fourth Estate for seeing this book through to publication. Finally I must thank my wife who, when she married me, little knew that she was marrying this book as well and has suffered many of its attendant tribulations. To her and our daughter this book is offered as an imperfect tribute.

For the paperback edition I have taken the opportunity to make some minor corrections and changes. I am also grateful for further information provided by Richard Knowles F.S.A. and Richard Michel.

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