By the time of the Conquest, the Normans had been established in Normandy for over a hundred and fifty years. They had transformed themselves from pagan Northmen into Christian princes; their territories extended from England, southern Italy and Sicily to distant Antioch, and their influence has spread throughout western Europe and the Mediterranean. Duke William's victory at Hastings and the resulting Anglo-Norman union brought England into the mainstream of European history and culture, with far-reaching consequences for Western civilisation.
These specially commissioned studies are concerned with the achievements of the cross-Channel realm. They make a major contribution to the understanding of the hundred years that witnessed great change and major developments in English and Norman government and society. There are surveys of the two constituent parts, of Normandy under the Angevin kings, of the place of kingdom and duchy in the politics and culture of the North Sea, and of the parallel Norman achievement in the Mediterranean. There are overviews both of secular administration and of the church, and a study of 'feudalism' and lordship. Within the broad field of cultural history, there are discussions of language, literature, the writing of history, and ecclesiastical architecture.