Cover and Title reveal – Defenders of the Norman Crown

Here it is!

The finalised cover for Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey, coming out next year.

Huge thanks to designer Paul Wilkinson at Pen & Sword for making my book look sooo good!

Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey

In the reign of Edward I, when asked Quo Warranto? – by what warrant he held his lands – John de Warenne, the 6th earl of Warenne and Surrey, is said to have drawn a rusty sword, claiming ‘My ancestors came with William the Bastard, and conquered their lands with the sword, and I will defend them with the sword against anyone wishing to seize them.’

John’s ancestor, William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey, fought for William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He was rewarded with enough land to make him one of the richest men of all time. In his search for a royal bride, the 2nd earl kidnapped the wife of a fellow baron. The 3rd earl died on crusade, fighting for his royal cousin, Louis VII of France…

For three centuries, the Warennes were at the heart of English politics at the highest level, until one unhappy marriage brought an end to the dynasty. The family moved in the most influential circles, married into royalty and were not immune to scandal.

Defenders of the Norman Crown tells the fascinating story of the Warenne dynasty, of the successes and failures of one of the most powerful families in England, from its origins in Normandy, through the Conquest, Magna Carta, the wars and marriages that led to its ultimate demise in the reign of Edward III.

Warenne arms

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you will have noticed that I have a fondness for the Warennes. The family were earls of Surrey from 1088 until the death of the last Warenne earl in 1347. They possessed lands throughout England, stretching from Lewes in Sussex to Castle Rising in Norfolk and on to Conisbrough and Sandal Castles in Yorkshire.

Growing up close to the Warenne castle at Conisbrough in South Yorkshire, I developed a fascination for the castle’s history, for its connections to royalty, and for the family which built this amazing stronghold – the Warennes. As a student, I worked at the castle as a volunteer tour guide and started researching the story of the family. Many, many years later, when Pen & Sword asked me for some book ideas, I suggested writing a biography of the family, not really expecting them to say ‘yes’ – but they did. Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey is a book I have always wanted to write, but never expected I would get the chance.

From the time of the Norman Conquest to the death of the seventh and last earl, the Warenne family was at the heart of English politics and the establishment, providing military and administrative support to the Crown. In the years following 1066 William I de Warenne, who became the first Earl of Surrey in 1088, was the fourth richest man in England and the richest not related to the royal family – he ranks at number 18 in’s Top 20 Richest People of All Time.

Conisbrough Castle

The earls of Surrey were at the centre of the major crises of medieval England, from the Norman Conquest itself to the deposition of Edward II and accession of Edward III. Strategic marriages forged links with the leading noble houses in England and Scotland, from the Marshals, the FitzAlans, the d’Aubignys and Percys to the Scottish and English royal families themselves. Indeed, it is from Ada de Warenne, daughter of the second earl, married to the oldest son of the king of Scots, that all the leading competitors for the Scottish throne, after the death of Margaret, Maid of Norway in 1286, are descended. Queen Elizabeth II, herself, can trace her own lineage back to Ada and, through Ada, to the second earl of Warenne and Surrey.

In the 14th century, one unhappy marriage brought the dynasty to an end, the family’s influence and achievements almost forgotten…

Writing Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey and researching this incredible family has been an amazing experience – a dream come true – and I will be eternally grateful to Pen & Sword for allowing me to tell their story.

Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey tells the story of this remarkable dynasty. It is a story of power, ambition, loyalty and – above all – family!

Defenders of the Norman Crown: The Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey will be released in the UK on 31 May and is now available for pre-order from Pen & Sword Books.


My Books

Ladies of Magna Carta: Women of Influence in Thirteenth Century England  looks into the relationships of the various noble families of the 13th century, and how they were affected by the Barons’ Wars, Magna Carta and its aftermath; the bonds that were formed and those that were broken. It is now available from Pen & SwordAmazon and from Book Depository worldwide.

Also by Sharon Bennett Connolly:

Silk and the Sword: The Women of the Norman Conquest traces the fortunes of the women who had a significant role to play in the momentous events of 1066.  Available now from Amazon,  Amberley Publishing, Book Depository.

Heroines of the Medieval World tells the stories of some of the most remarkable women from Medieval history, from Eleanor of Aquitaine to Julian of Norwich. Available now from Amberley Publishing and Amazon and Book Depository.


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©2020 Sharon Bennett Connolly 

20 thoughts on “Cover and Title reveal – Defenders of the Norman Crown

  1. grdtobin 10/11/2020 / 12:59

    The first William de Warenne wasn’t just at the Battle of Hastings, he also fought at the Battle of Mortemer in 1054 under Robert, Count of Eu. Their army captured Guy, Count of Ponthieu.

    Duke William was leading another army against Henry I of France, but when the king learnt of the outcome in the other field of battle, he departed from Normandy without engaging the duke.

    During 1083-1086, Wm de Warenne was also an officer in the Siege of Sainte Suzanne, in the latter stages of which he was shot while bravely trying to storm the castle.

    Orderic Vitalis’s account of the Siege is that during construction of Camp Beugy, King William suddenly rushed off with most of his army, leaving only his 200 household knights, commanded by Alan Rufus, behind to prosecute it.

    The castle was, and is, formidable, and had 300 defenders.

    However, the King never returned to relieve or support his most loyal men, and their numbers were gradually whittled down, because all the boldest knights of France, from Aquitaine to Burgundy, streamed to assault them while they foraged.

    Why did William abandon his best knights? Orderic records that around 1082/83 William had been fighting against Anjou in Maine when he learnt that his half-brother Odo of Bayeux was preparing to sail from England with much of the country’s garrison.

    Odo was intercepted at the Isle of Wight. When Odo protested that he was a Bishop, Archbishop Lanfranc recommended that William arrest Odo as the Earl of Kent.


    • Sharon Bennett Connolly 10/11/2020 / 13:06

      Yes, indeed – it was a fascinating time and William de Warenne’s exploits in Normandy do get discussed in the book – unfortunately, I can’t include it all here, so I just went with the most significant, ie, Hastings. Best wishes Sharon

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ellen Marchese 15/11/2020 / 14:27

      William de Warenne, MAGNA CARTA SURETY is my 23rd GGF making John my 22nd GGF, so I have a fondness for them as well, can’t wait to read the book!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jenice Warren Shaw 25/03/2021 / 20:17

        I too am related to William De Warrene and stumbled upon your book info today – very excited to read it as I have been working on putting together the Warren family history for my family. I did not even know about the Earls until recently and can barely grasp that I come from such an important family. I knew there had to be some very juicy stories involved with each generation and am thrilled that you know them!


      • Sharon Bennett Connolly 25/03/2021 / 20:26

        Thank you Jenice, they were a fascinating family, I hope you enjoy reading their story! Best wishes, Sharon


  2. Jean Setering 10/11/2020 / 14:50

    It looks wonderful!

    Sent from my iPad



    • Sharon Bennett Connolly 10/11/2020 / 14:57

      Thank you Jean. I think it’s the best book cover – ever! But i may be a little biased. 😉 Best wishes, Sharon


  3. Lesley Smith 10/11/2020 / 21:56

    And they are all ours!

    I wonder which of our ancestors she will write about or review next?

    On Tue, Nov 10, 2020 at 1:04 AM History… the interesting bits! wrote:

    > Sharon Bennett Connolly posted: ” Here it is! The finalised cover for > Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of > Surrey, coming out next year.Huge thanks to designer Paul Wilkinson at Pen > & Sword for making my book look sooo good! Defenders of the” >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. coleen561 10/11/2020 / 22:08

    I am really excited about this book. The cover is gorgeous.

    By the way, somehow two of my email addresses were getting notifications about your posts, and I unsubscribed one (coleen561) to stop receiving duplicate notifications. But I’ve realized that is my wordpress id, so I need to use that instead. I just mention this in case you get reports or a list of people unsubscribing. It will look like I’m unsubscribing, and I’m definitely NOT. As they say, “It’s not you; it’s me.” LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tim 26/11/2020 / 19:42

    Hi Sharon, My wife is a 29th generation grandaughter of Wiliam de Wareene 1st Earl of Pembroke. I was interested in buying Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey. I cannot find the book on Amazon wondering when it is coming out and wil it be available on Amazon? Quick question will you have your sources of information for the book footnoted throughout? Will it come in a digital version?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon Bennett Connolly 26/11/2020 / 20:01

      Hi Tim, thank you so much for your interest. Defenders of the Norman Crown is due out in 6 months. It should be released in May 2021 – I will post three exact date and purchase links as soon as I have them. The ebook will be released about the same time, or maybe a week later.And yes, it is thoroughly noted with an extensive bibliography. Best wishes, Sharon

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tim 26/11/2020 / 19:45

    Oops Sharon … Tim again… I meant First Earl of Surey!

    Liked by 1 person

    • grdtobin 22/02/2021 / 11:57

      Thinking of the Marshal? He was trained and knighted by Alan Rufus’s great-nephew, William de Tancarville, first cousin of Duke Conan IV of Brittany.


      • Sharon Bennett Connolly 22/02/2021 / 12:08

        Although the Marshal gets a mention – his daughter Matilda married the 5th Earl Warenne as her second husband- this book concentrates on the Warenne family.

        Liked by 1 person

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