Picture of part of the Bayeux Tapestry.HST2023: 1066 and all that

20 credits (semester 1)

Module Leader: Dr Charles West



Pass in at least two of the Level One modules offered by the Department of History.


Module Summary

This Document Option examines the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, the most famous date in English history. Through the close study of key primary sources, all readily available in modern English translation, the module explores what the event meant for those involved in it, both Norman and English, in terms of politics, religion, social relations, gender and historical consciousness. The module will also touch upon the impact the Conquest had upon the neighbouring countries of Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Teaching and Assessment

The module will be taught through a series of weekly lecture-workshops and seminars. The lecture-workshops will introduce you to the basic historical and historiographical context and prime you on pertinent issues and sources, encouraging ideas and guiding your private study.

Seminars will provide opportunities for you to present your ideas and interpretations to the wider group. They will be based on systematic study of primary sources prepared in advance and will involve student-led discussions, presentations and the use of ICT in order to enhance team-working, presentational and interpretative skills, while involving you in intensive engagement with practices of source criticism.

  Lecture / Workshop Seminars
1 Introduction: a millennium of discussion 14 October, 1066: contemporary accounts
2 King Alfred's successors Was Anglo-Saxon England ripe for the picking?
3 The duchy of Normandy: origins and development William's claim to the Anglo-Saxon throne
4 Was resistance useless? The nature of English resistance
5 'Feudalism': why the inverted commas? Knight service and chivalry
6 The Normans and the Anglo-Saxon Church The Normans and Anglo-Saxon saints
7 The Other Northmen: the Danes in England Persecution in England before and after the Conquest
8 Domesday Book England's economy, 1086
9 Was the Conquest bad for women? The Bayeux Tapestry
10 In quest of Normannitas The Normans in Wales
11 What difference did it make? Contemporary views of King William


Further guidance is provided in the module course booklet, available through MOLE.

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level2

Selected Reading

  • J. Crick and E. van Houts, eds., A Social History of England, 900-1200 (Cambridge, 2011)
  • B. Golding, Conquest and Colonisation: the Normans in Britain, 1055-1100 (Basingstoke, 2nd edn. 2001)
  • M. Morris, The Norman Conquest (London, 2013)
  • H. Thomas, The Norman Conquest: England after William the Conqueror (London, 2007)

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, a candidate will be able to:

  • Understand and critically analyse key events in the Norman Conquest and be able to relate them to wider themes of medieval history;
  • Distinguish between and critically evaluate different academic interpretations of and explanations for the Norman Conquest;
  • Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a wide variety of primary sources and their practical utility in understanding medieval history;
  • Participate in informed seminar debate on important themes and events of the Norman Conquest.