William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror

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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 the world." (Page 1).



In William the Conqueror the great Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc describes everything that led up to and followed from the momentous battle which took place at 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-Christianized Danes, with their smoldering traditions of cruelty, and on the other hand, English and Norman Chris-tians, 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 knit ever the more closely into the unity of European Christian civilization-not a political unity, but a unity of culture and civilization, of which the soul was the Catholic Faith. Within a hundred years from Hastings, this civilization would stretch from Scotland in the West to the Holy Land in the East. It is this same civilization of which all who are today Catholics are the
heirs-and must also be the bearers, if our Christian civilization is to be preserved in the face of the encircling "civilized," but nonetheless neo-pagan barbarism which threatens the existence of our entire culture.


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Dimensions5.5 × 8.25 in



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