The present volume is the first instalment of a work which I have contemplated, and for which I have at various times collected materials, for the last twenty years. I had hoped to complete the work, or so much of it as would come down to the actual accession of William the Conqueror, in time for it to appear during the year 1866, the octocen tenary year of the Conquest. I found however that, to make the main subject really intelligible from my point of view, it was necessary to treat the prelimi nary history at much greater length than I had originally thought of. The present volume therefore is merely introductory to the account of the actual Conquest. The second portion of the narrative, containing the reigns of Eadward, Harold, and William, is already in progress, and will follow with all possible speed.