History of the Vikings
Norman stock is a matter upon which no decision can be reached. The duchy certainly, as its history shows, remained a land of adventurers and brave seamen, and the two great events in the subsequent story of the Normans, the conquest of southern Italy and Sicily and the conquest of England, were exploits that superficially may seem to be only a natural sequel to the viking beginnings of the Norman aristocracy; but, in truth, explanations of these mighty enterprises, simpler and more satisfactory than the mere spur of a lively ancestral tradition, are readily to be found in the contemporary political conditions and in the potent factor of the over-population of the pleasant province of Normandy.
Therefore with the adventures of the Normans in Italy, the first despatch of soldiers in 1016, the granting of Aversa to Rainulf about 1029, the papal confirmation of Robert Guiscard as Duke of Apulia in 1059, the Norman conquest of Sicily, the audacious war with the Greek empire and the fighting on the Illyrian coast in the early '80s, and with the coronation of Roger II as King of Sicily in 1130, with the whole brave story of Norman achievement in the Mediterranean world, this book is not concerned. Nor is there need to recount the familiar tale of how in 1066 the great Norman duke, William the Conqueror, overthrew the English Harald and made of the remote kingdom across the Channel a realm henceforth brought into the daylight of European politics, no longer an outlying, backward country but a land awakened and refreshed by the strongflowing tide of continental culture and continental thought.