Notebook

Fortunately, given this dearth of administrative documents, we also have chronicles — again, mostly thanks to the diligence of monks. These contemporary histories can help put considerable amounts of flesh on what would otherwise be very bare bones, providing us with facts, dates, anecdotes and opinions. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, our most important source for the history of England during this period, has much to say about events before and after the Conquest, and without it our understanding would be infinitely poorer. At the same time, the Chronicle can on occasion remain infuriatingly tight-lipped. Its entry for the year 1084, for instance, reproduced in full, reads: “In this year passed away Wulfwold, abbot of Chertsey, on 19 April.” For other years – crucial years – it has no entries at all.

Marc Morris, “The Norman Conquest”.

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