Books: The Onetime King

1066: THE STORY OF A YEAR by Denis Butler. 328 pages. Putnam. $5.95.

The last Anglo-Saxon king lay dead in the field: pierced through eye and breast, beheaded, disemboweled, his body desecrated by one last, needless sword blow that opened his thigh to the bone. He was Harold, son of Godwin, who has suffered a similar disposition from history in the 900 years since his death under arms.

Down the centuries, Harold's name has paled beside that of his conqueror, Duke William of Normandy; his memory survives mostly in a schoolboy incantation—Hastings, 1066. What led to Hastings and what happened there have been...

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