Norman Invasion

Normandy's Duke William landed in England on this day in 1066, leading an invasion army of some 10,000 in the Norman Conquest. Two weeks later William engaged Harold, the new British king, at the Battle of Hastings, regarded as "the single most important event in English history," one that "altered what it meant to be English"(Marc Morris, The Norman Conquest). It also earned William an upgrade from "the Bastard" to "the Conqueror," the following description of his battlefield exploits taken from the pro-Norman eleventh-century chronicle Gesta Guillelmi (Deeds of William):

Three horses were killed under him and fell. Three times he sprang to the ground undaunted, and avenged without delay the loss of his steed. Here his speed, here his physical strength and courage could be seen. With his angry blade he tirelessly pierced shields, helmets, and hauberks; with his buckler he threw back many. Marvelling at seeing him fight on foot, his knights, many of them smitten with wounds, took heart again….

The authors of 1066 and All That, a classic in the spoof genre, are a little more skeptical of William's contribution to British history: "William next invented a system according to which everybody had to belong to somebody else, and everybody else to the King. This was called the Feutile System…."

 


Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.

 

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."