Harold C. Zimmerman's Comparing Conquests

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Harold C. Zimmerman’s “Comparing Conquests: The Life of St. Birinus and the Norman Invasion of England,” written for Studies in Philology, is an analysis of the Norman Invasion of 1066 from the perspective of the Anglo-Saxons. The point of comparison here is the attempted conversion of West Saxons to Christianity by the Roman missionary Birinus. Although by most definitions that does not sound like a “conquest,” it was considered by the Anglo-Saxon author of the record for these events to be one. What makes this noteworthy is that this record was written shortly after the Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England in 1066 which was, by all definitions, a very real and bloody conquest. Zimmerman asserts that the time of this record was not a coincidence, but an attempt by an Anglo-Saxon to describe “the proper (and improper) ways to conquer the people of Britain (para 2).” The main document used by Zimmerman, the Vita Sancti Birini, is a biography written by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon about the man known as Birinus. Birinus was an early Christian missionary sent in the seventh century to Britain in order to convert the people then …show more content…
The tangents taken in which the anonymous writer describes righteous governance were irrelevant to the task of documenting the life and actions of Birinus. It is difficult to imagine that they were meant for something other than criticizing the Normans’ repression of Anglo-Saxons. As Zimmerman states, “It seems certain that the Norman state cannot be described as evidencing the traits of rationalization and accommodation…it is perhaps for this reason that the post-Conquest author of the Vita, given the task of writing of a man who came to the Continent to change the destiny of the West Saxons, made his text in part a work detailing how to undertake a proper (and an improper) conquest (para

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