Page:The Normans in European History.djvu/97

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From the point of view both of immediate achievement and of ultimate results, the conquest of England was the crowning act of Norman history. Something doubtless was due to good fortune,—to the absence of an English fleet, to the favorable opportunity in French politics, to the mistakes of the English. But the fundamental facts, without which these would have meant nothing, were the strength and discipline of Normandy and the personality of her leader. Diplomat, warrior, leader of men, William was preëminently a statesman, and it was his organizing genius which "turned the defeat of English arms into the making of the English nation." This talent for political organization was, however, no isolated endowment of the Norman duke, but was shared in large measure by the Norman barons, as is abundantly shown by the history of Norman rule in Italy and Sicily. For William and for his followers the conquest of England only gave a wider field for qualities of state-building which had already shown themselves in Normandy.


A detailed narrative of the relations between Normandy and England in the eleventh century is given by E. A. Freeman in his History of the Norman Conquest (Oxford, 1870-79), but large portions of this work need to be rewritten in the light of later studies, especially those of Round. There is a brief biography of William the Conqueror by Freeman in the series of "Twelve English Statesmen" (London, 1888), and a fuller one by F. M. Stenton in the "Heroes of the Nations" (1908). For the institutions of Normandy see my articles on