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Response to Review of William the Conqueror

I feel I need to make three observations in response to Matthew Bennett’s review. First, I clearly indicate that the book is about William the Conqueror and not about the Norman Conquest (p. 14). Second, opinions are attributed to me that I do not hold. For example, I actually write that ‘we ultimately do not know where William’s soul resides’ (p. 528). Thirdly my professional competence as a historian and a biographer appears to be called into question through the reference to my apparent lack of ‘empathy’ for my subject. I totally reject any such implication, adding that, in relation to biography, empathy is an extremely complex subject. At the same time critical self-awareness is an essential biographer’s tool.

I will conclude by saying that I remain deeply proud both of the scholarship and of the personal values that have animated this book and of its invitation to others to discuss further a complex subject of direct relevance to the broad history of humanity (pp. x, 528).