The Coming of the Normans

When the Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor died in January 1066, he left behind no heir to the throne.

The Witenagemot chose Harold, Earl of Wessex, to succeed him.

However, a Viking King called Harold Hardraada and William Duke of Normandy also claimed the throne.

Hardraada invaded northern England, and king Harold advanced north to meet him, inflicting a decisive defeat on the Viking claimant at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Immediately after the battle, Harold was told that the Duke of Normandy, William, had landed on the south coast with an army, and so Harold rushed south with amazing speed to intercept him.

All was set for one of the most momentous clashes in British history, the Battle of Hastings.

(Above) The Battle of Hastings 1066. The battle actually took place in a small town called Battle, outside of Hastings. The battle was one of the most decisive turning points in British history.

In October 1066, the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons met on the battlefield outside of the modern town of Hastings.

After a hard fight on both sides, the Normans finally won.

Harold himself was killed in the battle from an arrow in the eye.

From then on the new king of England became known as William the Conqueror.

(Above) A painting of William the Conqueror. The Normans were Vikings themselves, having settled the region of Normandy on the northern French coast by invitation.

He was crowned king on Christmas Day in 1066, and set about consolidating his rule over England, implanting a Norman aristocracy throughout the land.

Anglo-Saxon England was at an end.

The focus of British society, south of Hadrian’s Wall, now shifted from Scandinavia to Europe.

One of William’s first acts as king of England was to organise a nationwide survey, which became known as the Domesday Book, which was a full inventory of all property and wealth throughout England.

According to the Domesday Book, the Normans valued all of England at £73,000 in 1086 AD.

England became a joint-kingdom along with Normandy.

William also commissioned a new fortification to be built in London, which became known as the Tower of London, which still stands to this day, almost 1,000 years after it was built.

In 1070 AD, English hero Hereward the Wake organised and led an Anglo-Saxon revolt in the fens of eastern England, but was forced eventually to submit to King William.

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