Catholic History: William the Conqueror by Hilaire Belloc


(Much more about Belloc at this site can be found here) 

William the Conqueror by Hilaire Belloc


William the Conqueror by Hilaire Belloc

Book Description (Adapted from Amazon):

“A short, broad-shouldered northern Frenchman, approaching his fortieth year, a man with long arms, powerfully built, and famous for the strength of his hands, clean-shaven, square jawed, obese, vigorous – all that – decided, at about five o’clock of an autumn evening, the destinies of England and, in great part, of the world.” – from the first page of the book.

In William the Conqueror, Hilaire Belloc, the great Catholic historian, describes everything that led up to and followed from the momentous battle of Hastings in England in the year 1066 A.D. – an event which was to have a profound effect on the whole of Europe from that time forward – and eventually upon the world.

Belloc shows that the Conquest of England, which began with William’s victory at Hastings should not rightly be called a conquest in our sense of the word – nor can the great Duke William of Normandy be styled a Conqueror in the usual understanding.

For William had crossed the Channel to England as one enforcing a rightful claim.

Moreover, the ties between England and French Normandy on the Continent had long been very close-ties of blood, of marriage, of rule, of culture and of the Catholic Faith.

For several lifetimes previous – as Belloc details – England had been undergoing an internal struggle between, on the one hand, the half-Christianised Danes, with their smoldering traditions of cruelty, and on the other hand, English and Norman Christians, whose civilization was epitomized in the gentle, enlightened rule of St. Edward the Confessor (1043-1066) and who were the bearers of the ancient Christian and Roman civilization.

With William’s conquest, the latter side won out.

England was thence-forward to be integrated ever the more closely into the unity of European Christian civilisation – not a political unity, but a unity of culture and civilization, of which the soul was the Catholic Faith.

Why Roger recommends William the Conqueror by Hilaire Belloc:

Belloc’s profound and comprehensive historical understanding of the Catholic foundations of Europe strikes me as tremendously important to our modern age.

In this book, Belloc details one of the crucial steps in the building of “Christendom,” that is, the entry of England in 1066 A.D. into the European Christian unity, which was then emerging.

Belloc deserves to read – desperately to be read …

I say this for reasons I indicate in so many places at this website – but perhaps of the numerous entries regarding Belloc at this site, it might be best to start here.

Here I will simply say this. In our modern age of fragmentation, he has so much to say about unity and synthesis (all of which is central to his vision of Europe). This present volume is a key part of his books on European history.

The man also had so much sanity, wisdom, insight and a vast sweep of knowledge. He was also a natural teacher. I am learning a very great deal indeed from him.

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