A historical exploration of the shapers of Europe and the West, Lars Brownworth’s “The Normans: From Raiders to Kings” provides a concise and uninterrupted account of how these Viking descendants changed the course of history over a period of only two centuries. When the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, signed by Charles III of France and Rollo the Walker, leader of the Vikings, created the Terra Normanorum, or land of the Northmen, the Norman legacy began. Their inheritance was mostly one of bloodshed, wars, and conquest, because after all, “Norman respect was won on the battlefield.” Two centuries later, Frederick II became “the last flowering of the Norman kingdom of Sicily,” effectively ending the Norman reign. Nevertheless, they paved the way for the forceful assimilation of England into mainstream Europe.
With its compilation of materials such as a “Who’s Who” listing, maps, a bibliography, and more, “The Normans” offers a succinct reference for anyone interested in the Norman legacy. Interspersed humor and short chapters enhance this text’s attractiveness as a learning tool, and while there are some grammatical errors, none of these impede comprehension.