Hereward the wake

What the Anglo-Saxons made of 1066 and all that followed

By any yardstick, the Norman Conquest was a ghastly business. Within two decades, the English aristocracy had been more than decimated, all of England’s cathedrals were being levelled and rebuilt, the north had been harried and the language of government changed. What made it worse was that it was utterly unnecessary. In 1066, Edward the Confessor had an heir of the blood royal – Edgar Ætheling, the grandson of Edmund Ironside (d. 1016). Had he not been shoved aside by bigger men, much fuss might have been avoided. In her superbly adroit new history, Eleanor Parker examines how memories of Edgar and his like – the generation that straddled the