The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separated from continental Europe ...
by an army made up of thousands of Norman
Flemish (''Vlaams'') is a Low Franconian dialect cluster of the Dutch language. It is sometimes referred to as Flemish Dutch (), Belgian Dutch ( ), or Southern Dutch (). Flemish is native to Flanders, a historical region in northern Belgiu ...
French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to:
* Something of, from, or related to France
** French language, which originated in France, and its various dialects and accents
** French people, a nation and ethnic group identified with France ...
troops, all led by the
Duke of Normandy
In the Middle Ages, the duke of Normandy was the ruler of the Duchy of Normandy in north-western France. The duchy arose out of a grant of land to the Viking leader Rollo by the French king Charles III in 911. In 924 and again in 933, Norman ...
, later styled
William the Conqueror
William I; ang, WillelmI (Bates ''William the Conqueror'' p. 33– 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman king of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 10 ...
William's claim to the English throne
derived from his familial relationship with the childless
The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited England in the Early Middle Ages. They traced their origins to settlers who came to Britain from mainland Europe in the 5th century. However, the ethnogenesis of the Anglo-Saxons happened ...
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor ; la, Eduardus Confessor , ; ( 1003 – 5 January 1066) was one of the last Anglo-Saxon English kings. Usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex, he ruled from 1042 to 1066.
Edward was the son of Æ ...
, who may have encouraged William's hopes for the throne. Edward died in January 1066 and was succeeded by his brother-in-law
Harold Godwinson ( – 14 October 1066), also called Harold II, was the last crowned Anglo-Saxon English king. Harold reigned from 6 January 1066 until his death at the Battle of Hastings, fighting the Norman invaders led by William the ...
. The Norwegian king
Harald Sigurdsson (; – 25 September 1066), also known as Harald III of Norway and given the epithet ''Hardrada'' (; modern no, Hardråde, roughly translated as "stern counsel" or "hard ruler") in the sagas, was King of Norway from 1046 t ...
invaded northern England in September 1066 and was victorious at the
Battle of Fulford
The Battle of Fulford was fought on the outskirts of the village of Fulford just south of York in England, on 20 September 1066, when King Harald III of Norway, also known as ''Harald Hardrada'' ("harðráði" in Old Norse, meaning "hard rul ...
on 20 September, but Godwinson's army defeated and killed Hardrada at the
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge ( ang, Gefeoht æt Stanfordbrycge) took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire, in England, on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading N ...
on 25 September. Three days later on 28 September, William's invasion force of thousands of men and hundreds of ships landed at
Pevensey ( ) is a village and civil parish in the Wealden district of East Sussex, England. The main village is located north-east of Eastbourne, one mile (1.6 km) inland from Pevensey Bay. The settlement of Pevensey Bay forms part of ...
Sussex (), from the Old English (), is a historic county in South East England that was formerly an independent medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It is bounded to the west by Hampshire, north by Surrey, northeast by Kent, south by the Eng ...
in southern England. Harold marched south to oppose him, leaving a significant portion of his army in the north. Harold's army confronted William's invaders on 14 October at the
Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings nrf, Batâle dé Hastings was fought on 14 October 1066 between the Norman-French army of William, the Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson, beginning the Norman Conques ...
. William's force defeated Harold, who was killed in the engagement, and William became king.
Although William's main rivals were gone, he still faced rebellions over the following years and was not secure on the English throne until after 1072. The lands of the resisting English elite
were confiscated; some of the elite fled into exile. To control his new kingdom, William granted lands to his followers and built castles commanding military strongpoints throughout the land. The
Domesday Book () – the Middle English spelling of "Doomsday Book" – is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William I, known as William the Conqueror. The manusc ...
, a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales, was completed by 1086. Other effects of the conquest included the
A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in ac ...
and government, the introduction of the
Norman or Norman French (, french: Normand, Guernésiais: , Jèrriais: ) is a Romance language which can be classified as one of the Oïl languages along with French, Picard and Walloon. The name "Norman French" is sometimes used to desc ...
as the language of the elites, and changes in the composition of the upper classes, as William
In the Middle Ages, especially under the European feudal system, feoffment or enfeoffment was the deed by which a person was given land in exchange for a pledge of service. This mechanism was later used to avoid restrictions on the passage of ...
lands to be held directly from the king. More gradual changes affected the agricultural classes and village life: the main change appears to have been the formal elimination of
Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone forbidden to quit one's service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as property. Slavery typically involves slaves being made to per ...
, which may or may not have been linked to the invasion. There was little alteration in the structure of government, as the new Norman administrators took over many of the forms of Anglo-Saxon government.
In 911, the Carolingian French
Charles the Simple
Charles III (17 September 879 – 7 October 929), called the Simple or the Straightforward (from the Latin ''Carolus Simplex''), was the king of West Francia from 898 until 922 and the king of Lotharingia from 911 until 919–923. He was a mem ...
allowed a group of
Vikings ; non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people originally from Scandinavia (present-day Denmark, Norway and Sweden),
who from the late 8th to the late 11th centuries raided, pirated, traded and se ...
under their leader
Rollo ( nrf, Rou, ''Rolloun''; non, Hrólfr; french: Rollon; died between 928 and 933) was a Viking who became the first ruler of Normandy, today a region in northern France. He emerged as the outstanding warrior among the Norsemen who had se ...
to settle in
Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie, Nouormandie ; from Old French , plural of ''Normant'', originally from the word for "northman" in several Scandinavian languages) is a geographical and cultural region in Northwestern ...
as part of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte
. In exchange for the land, the Norsemen under Rollo were expected to provide protection along the coast against further Viking invaders.
[Bates ''Normandy Before 1066'' pp. 8–10]
Their settlement proved successful, and the Vikings in the region became known as the "Northmen" from which "Normandy" and "Normans" are derived.
[Crouch ''Normans'' pp. 15–16]
The Normans quickly adopted the indigenous culture as they became assimilated by the French, renouncing
Paganism (from classical Latin ''pāgānus'' "rural", "rustic", later "civilian") is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism, or ethnic religions other than Judaism ...
and converting to
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest and most widespread religion with roughly 2.38 billion followers representing one-third of the global pop ...
[Bates ''Normandy Before 1066'' p. 12]
They adopted the
Langue is a municipality in the Valle Department, Honduras.
The town is located near the border of El Salvador and is a regional Hammock making center. Most of the town is made up of sharecroppers and day laborers. There are usually Mormon mis ...
of their new home and added features from their own
Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian, is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlement ...
, transforming it into the
Norman or Norman French (, french: Normand, Guernésiais: , Jèrriais: ) is a Romance language which can be classified as one of the Oïl languages along with French, Picard and Walloon. The name "Norman French" is sometimes used to desc ...
. They intermarried with the local population
[Bates ''Normandy Before 1066'' pp. 20–21]
and used the territory granted to them as a base to extend the frontiers of the duchy westward, annexing territory including the
Bessin () is an area in Normandy, France, corresponding to the territory of the Bajocasses, a Gallic tribe from whom Bayeux, its main town, takes its name.
The territory was annexed by the count of Rouen in 924.
The Bessin correspond ...
The Cotentin Peninsula (, ; nrf, Cotentîn ), also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy that forms part of the northwest coast of France. It extends north-westward into the English Channel, towards Great Britain. To its w ...
Avranches (; nrf, Avraunches) is a commune in the Manche department, and the region of Normandy, northwestern France. It is a subprefecture of the department. The inhabitants are called ''Avranchinais''.
By the end of the Roman period, ...
[Hallam and Everard ''Capetian France'' p. 53]
In 1002, English king
Æthelred the Unready
Æthelred II ( ang, Æþelræd, ;Different spellings of this king’s name most commonly found in modern texts are "Ethelred" and "Æthelred" (or "Aethelred"), the latter being closer to the original Old English form . Compare the modern diale ...
Emma of Normandy
Emma of Normandy (referred to as Ælfgifu in royal documents; c. 984 – 6 March 1052) was a Norman-born noblewoman who became the English, Danish, and Norwegian queen through her marriages to the Anglo-Saxon king Æthelred the Unready and the ...
, the sister of
Richard II, Duke of Normandy
Richard II (died 28 August 1026), called the Good (French: ''Le Bon''), was the duke of Normandy from 996 until 1026.
Richard was the eldest surviving son and heir of Richard the Fearless and Gunnor. He succeeded his father as the ruler o ...
[Williams ''Æthelred the Unready'' p. 54]
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor ; la, Eduardus Confessor , ; ( 1003 – 5 January 1066) was one of the last Anglo-Saxon English kings. Usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex, he ruled from 1042 to 1066.
Edward was the son of Æ ...
, who spent many years in exile in Normandy, succeeded to the English throne in 1042.
[Huscroft ''Ruling England'' p. 3]
This led to the establishment of a powerful Norman interest in English politics, as Edward drew heavily on his former hosts for support, bringing in Norman courtiers, soldiers, and clerics and appointing them to positions of power, particularly in the Church. Childless and embroiled in conflict with the formidable
Godwin, Earl of Wessex
Godwin of Wessex ( ang, Godwine; – 15 April 1053) was an English nobleman who became one of the most powerful earls in England under the Danish king Cnut the Great (King of England from 1016 to 1035) and his successors. Cnut made Godwin the ...
and his sons, Edward may also have encouraged Duke William of Normandy's ambitions for the English throne.
[Stafford ''Unification and Conquest'' pp. 86–99]
When King Edward died at the beginning of 1066, the lack of a clear heir led to a disputed succession in which several contenders laid claim to the throne of England.
[Higham ''Death of Anglo-Saxon England'' pp. 167–181]
Edward's immediate successor was the
Earl of Wessex
Earl of Wessex is a title that has been created twice in British history – once in the pre-Conquest Anglo-Saxon nobility of England, and once in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. In the 6th century AD the region of Wessex (the lands of the We ...
, Harold Godwinson, the richest and most powerful of the English aristocrats. Harold was elected king by the
The Witan () was the king's council in Anglo-Saxon England from before the seventh century until the 11th century. It was composed of the leading magnates, both ecclesiastic and secular, and meetings of the council were sometimes called the Wi ...
of England and crowned by the Archbishop of York, Ealdred
, although Norman propaganda claimed the ceremony was performed by
Stigand (died 1072) was an Anglo-Saxon churchman in pre-Norman Conquest England who became Archbishop of Canterbury. His birth date is unknown, but by 1020 he was serving as a royal chaplain and advisor. He was named Bishop of Elmham in 104 ...
, the uncanonically
Archbishop of Canterbury
The archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and a principal leader of the Church of England, the ceremonial head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is J ...
[Walker ''Harold'' pp. 136–138] Harold was immediately challenged by two powerful neighbouring rulers. Duke William claimed that he had been promised the throne by King Edward and that Harold had sworn agreement to this; [Bates ''William the Conqueror'' pp. 73–77] King Harald III of Norway, commonly known as Harald Hardrada
Harald Sigurdsson (; – 25 September 1066), also known as Harald III of Norway and given the epithet ''Hardrada'' (; modern no, Hardråde, roughly translated as "stern counsel" or "hard ruler") in the sagas, was King of Norway from 1046 t ..., also contested the succession. His claim to the throne was based on an agreement between his predecessor, Magnus the Good, and the earlier English king, Harthacnut
Harthacnut ( da, Hardeknud; "Tough-knot"; – 8 June 1042), traditionally Hardicanute, sometimes referred to as Canute III, was King of Denmark from 1035 to 1042 and King of the English from 1040 to 1042.
Harthacnut was the son of King ..., whereby if either died without an heir, the other would inherit both England and Norway. [Higham ''Death of Anglo-Saxon England'' pp. 188–190] William and Harald at once set about assembling troops and ships to invade England. [Huscroft ''Ruling England'' pp. 12–14]
Tostig's raids and the Norwegian invasion
In early 1066, Harold's exiled brother,
Tostig Godwinson ( 102925 September 1066) was an Anglo-Saxon Earl of Northumbria and brother of King Harold Godwinson. After being exiled by his brother, Tostig supported the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada's invasion of England, and was kille ..., raided southeastern England with a fleet he had recruited in Flanders
Flanders (, ; Dutch: ''Vlaanderen'' ) is the Flemish-speaking northern portion of Belgium and one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. However, there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to cultu ..., later joined by other ships from Orkney
Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, situated off the north coast of the island of Great Britain. Orkney is 10 miles (16 km) nort .... Threatened by Harold's fleet, Tostig moved north and raided in East Anglia
East Anglia is an area in the East of England, often defined as including the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Angles, a people whose name originated in Anglia, ... and Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire (abbreviated Lincs.) is a county in the East Midlands of England, with a long coastline on the North Sea to the east. It borders Norfolk to the south-east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south-west, Leicestershi ..., but he was driven back to his ships by the brothers Edwin, Earl of Mercia
Edwin (Old English: ''Ēadwine'') (died 1071) was the elder brother of Morcar, Earl of Northumbria, son of Ælfgār, Earl of Mercia and grandson of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. He succeeded to his father's title and responsibilities on Ælfgār's ..., and Morcar, Earl of Northumbria. Deserted by most of his followers, Tostig withdrew to Scotland, where he spent the summer recruiting fresh forces. [Walker ''Harold'' pp. 144–145] King Harold spent the summer on the south coast with a large army and fleet waiting for William to invade, but the bulk of his forces were militia who needed to harvest their crops, so on 8 September Harold dismissed them. [Walker ''Harold'' pp. 144–150]
Hardrada invaded northern England in early September, leading a fleet of more than 300 ships carrying perhaps 15,000 men. Harald's army was further augmented by the forces of Tostig, who threw his support behind the Norwegian king's bid for the throne. Advancing on York, the Norwegians defeated a northern English army under Edwin and Morcar on 20 September at the Battle of Fulford
The Battle of Fulford was fought on the outskirts of the village of Fulford just south of York in England, on 20 September 1066, when King Harald III of Norway, also known as ''Harald Hardrada'' ("harðráði" in Old Norse, meaning "hard rul .... [Walker ''Harold'' pp. 154–158] The two earls had rushed to engage the Norwegian forces before Harold could arrive from the south. Although Harold Godwinson had married Edwin and Morcar's sister Ealdgyth, the two earls may have distrusted Harold and feared that the king would replace Morcar with Tostig. The end result was that their forces were devastated and unable to participate in the rest of the campaigns of 1066, although the two earls survived the battle. [Marren ''1066'' pp. 65–71]
Hardrada moved on to York, which surrendered to him. After taking hostages from the leading men of the city, on 24 September the Norwegians moved east to the tiny village of Stamford Bridge. [Marren ''1066'' p. 73] King Harold probably learned of the Norwegian invasion in mid-September and rushed north, gathering forces as he went. [ The royal forces probably took nine days to cover the distance from London to York, averaging almost per day. At dawn on 25 September Harold's forces reached York, where he learned the location of the Norwegians.] [Marren ''1066'' pp. 74–75] The English then marched on the invaders and took them by surprise, defeating them in the Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge ( ang, Gefeoht æt Stanfordbrycge) took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire, in England, on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading N .... Harald of Norway and Tostig were killed, and the Norwegians suffered such horrific losses that only 24 of the original 300 ships were required to carry away the survivors. The English victory was costly, however, as Harold's army was left in a battered and weakened state, and far from the English Channel. [Walker ''Harold'' pp. 158–165]
Norman preparations and forces
William assembled a large invasion fleet and an army gathered from Normandy and all over France, including large contingents from
Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula, historical country and cultural area in the west of modern France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period ... and Flanders. [ He mustered his forces at ] Saint-Valery-sur-Somme
Saint-Valery-sur-Somme (, literally ''Saint-Valery on Somme''; pcd, Saint-Wary), commune in the Somme department, is a seaport and resort on the south bank of the River Somme estuary. The town's medieval character and ramparts, its Gothic ch ... and was ready to cross the Channel by about 12 August. [Douglas ''William the Conqueror'' p. 192] The exact numbers and composition of William's force are unknown. [Gravett ''Hastings'' pp. 20–21] A contemporary document claims that William had 726 ships, but this may be an inflated figure. [Bennett ''Campaigns of the Norman Conquest'' p. 25] Figures given by contemporary writers are highly exaggerated, varying from 14,000 to 150,000 men. [Lawson ''Battle of Hastings'' pp. 163–164] Modern historians have offered a range of estimates for the size of William's forces: 7000–8000 men, 1000–2000 of them cavalry; [Bennett ''Campaigns of the Norman Conquest'' p. 26] 10,000–12,000 men; [ 10,000 men, 3000 of them cavalry;] [Marren ''1066'' pp. 89–90] or 7500 men. [ The army would have consisted of a mix of cavalry, infantry, and archers or crossbowmen, with about equal numbers of cavalry and archers and the foot soldiers equal in number to the other two types combined.] [Gravett ''Hastings'' p. 27] Although later lists of companions of William the Conqueror are extant, most are padded with extra names; only about 35 individuals can be reliably claimed to have been with William at Hastings. [Marren ''1066'' pp. 108–109]
William of Poitiers states that William obtained Pope Alexander II's consent for the invasion, signified by a papal banner, along with diplomatic support from other European rulers. Although Alexander did give papal approval to the conquest after it succeeded, no other source claims papal support before the invasion. William's army assembled during the summer while an invasion fleet in Normandy was constructed. Although the army and fleet were ready by early August, adverse winds kept the ships in Normandy until late September. There were probably other reasons for William's delay, including intelligence reports from England revealing that Harold's forces were deployed along the coast. William would have preferred to delay the invasion until he could make an unopposed landing. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 120–123]
Landing and Harold's march south
The Normans crossed to England a few days after Harold's victory over the Norwegians at Stamford Bridge on 25 September, following the dispersal of Harold's naval force. They landed at
Pevensey ( ) is a village and civil parish in the Wealden district of East Sussex, England. The main village is located north-east of Eastbourne, one mile (1.6 km) inland from Pevensey Bay. The settlement of Pevensey Bay forms part of ... in Sussex
Sussex (), from the Old English (), is a historic county in South East England that was formerly an independent medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It is bounded to the west by Hampshire, north by Surrey, northeast by Kent, south by the Eng ... on 28 September and erected a wooden castle at Hastings
Hastings () is a large seaside town and borough in East Sussex on the south coast of England,
east to the county town of Lewes and south east of London. The town gives its name to the Battle of Hastings, which took place to the north-west a ..., from which they raided the surrounding area. [Bates ''William the Conqueror'' pp. 79–89] This ensured supplies for the army, and as Harold and his family held many of the lands in the area, it weakened William's opponent and made him more likely to attack to put an end to the raiding. [Marren ''1066'' p. 98]
Harold, after defeating his brother Tostig and Harald Hardrada in the north, left much of his force there, including Morcar and Edwin, and marched the rest of his army south to deal with the threatened Norman invasion. [Carpenter ''Struggle for Mastery'' p. 72] It is unclear when Harold learned of William's landing, but it was probably while he was travelling south. Harold stopped in London for about a week before reaching Hastings, so it is likely that he took a second week to march south, averaging about per day, [Marren ''1066'' p. 93] for the nearly to London. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' p. 124] Although Harold attempted to surprise the Normans, William's scouts reported the English arrival to the duke. The exact events preceding the battle remain obscure, with contradictory accounts in the sources, but all agree that William led his army from his castle and advanced towards the enemy. [Lawson ''Battle of Hastings'' pp. 180–182] Harold had taken up a defensive position at the top of Senlac Hill (present-day Battle, East Sussex
Battle is a small town and civil parish in the local government district of Rother in East Sussex, England. It lies south-east of London, east of Brighton and east of Lewes. Hastings is to the south-east and Bexhill-on-Sea to the south. ...), about from William's castle at Hastings. [Marren ''1066'' pp. 99–100]
Contemporary sources do not give reliable data on the size and composition of Harold's army, although two Norman sources give figures of 1.2 million or 400,000 men. [Lawson ''Battle of Hastings'' p. 128] Recent historians have suggested figures of between 5000 and 13,000 for Harold's army at Hastings, [Lawson ''Battle of Hastings'' pp. 130–133] but most agree on a range of between 7000 and 8000 English troops. [Gravett ''Hastings'' pp. 28–34] [Marren ''1066'' p. 105] These men would have comprised a mix of the '' fyrd
A fyrd () was a type of early Anglo-Saxon army that was mobilised from freemen or paid men to defend their Shire's lords estate, or from selected representatives to join a royal expedition. Service in the fyrd was usually of short duration and ...'' (militia mainly composed of foot soldiers) and the '' housecarls
A housecarl ( on, húskarl; oe, huscarl) was a non- servile manservant or household bodyguard in medieval Northern Europe.
The institution originated amongst the Norsemen of Scandinavia, and was brought to Anglo-Saxon England by the Danish con ...'', or nobleman's personal troops, who usually also fought on foot. The main difference between the two types was in their armour; the ''housecarls'' used better protecting armour than that of the ''fyrd''. The English army does not appear to have had many archers, although some were present. [ The identities of few of the Englishmen at Hastings are known; the most important were Harold's brothers Gyrth and Leofwine.] [ About 18 other named individuals can reasonably be assumed to have fought with Harold at Hastings, including two other relatives.] [
The battle began at about 9 am on 14 October 1066 and lasted all day, but while a broad outline is known, the exact events are obscured by contradictory accounts in the sources.
[Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' p. 126] Although the numbers on each side were probably about equal, William had both cavalry and infantry, including many archers, while Harold had only foot soldiers and few archers. [Carpenter ''Struggle for Mastery'' p. 73] The English soldiers formed up as a shield wall
A shield wall ( or in Old English, in Old Norse) is a military formation that was common in ancient and medieval warfare. There were many slight variations of this formation,
but the common factor was soldiers standing shoulder to should ... along the ridge, and were at first so effective that William's army was thrown back with heavy casualties. Some of William's Breton troops panicked and fled, and some of the English troops appear to have pursued the fleeing Bretons. Norman cavalry then attacked and killed the pursuing troops. While the Bretons were fleeing, rumours swept the Norman forces that the duke had been killed, but William rallied his troops. Twice more the Normans made feigned withdrawals, tempting the English into pursuit, and allowing the Norman cavalry to attack them repeatedly. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 127–128] The available sources are more confused about events in the afternoon, but it appears that the decisive event was the death of Harold, about which different stories are told. William of Jumieges claimed that Harold was killed by the duke. The Bayeux Tapestry has been claimed to show Harold's death by an arrow to the eye, but this may be a later reworking of the tapestry to conform to 12th-century stories that Harold had died from an arrow wound to the head. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' p. 129] Other sources stated that no one knew how Harold died because the press of battle was so tight around the king that the soldiers could not see who struck the fatal blow. [Marren ''1066'' p. 137] William of Poitiers gives no details at all about Harold's death. [Gravett ''Hastings'' p. 77]
Aftermath of Hastings
The day after the battle, Harold's body was identified, either by his armour or marks on his body. The bodies of the English dead, who included some of Harold's brothers and his ''housecarls'', were left on the battlefield,
[ although some were removed by relatives later.] [Gravett ''Hastings'' p. 81] Gytha, Harold's mother, offered the victorious duke the weight of her son's body in gold for its custody, but her offer was refused. William ordered that Harold's body be thrown into the sea, but whether that took place is unclear. [ Another story relates that Harold was buried at the top of a cliff.] [Marren ''1066'' p. 146] Waltham Abbey
Waltham Abbey is a town and civil parish in the Epping Forest District of Essex, within the metropolitan and urban area of London, England, north-east of Charing Cross. It lies on the Greenwich Meridian, between the River Lea in the west an ..., which had been founded by Harold, later claimed that his body had been buried there secretly. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' p. 131] Later legends claimed that Harold did not die at Hastings, but escaped and became a hermit at Chester. [
After his victory at Hastings, William expected to receive the submission of the surviving English leaders, but instead Edgar the Ætheling was proclaimed king by the Witenagemot, with the support of Earls Edwin and Morcar, ] Stigand
Stigand (died 1072) was an Anglo-Saxon churchman in pre-Norman Conquest England who became Archbishop of Canterbury. His birth date is unknown, but by 1020 he was serving as a royal chaplain and advisor. He was named Bishop of Elmham in 104 ..., the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Ealdred Ealdred may refer to:
* Ealdred of Hwicce, 8th-century king of Hwicce
* Ealdred I of Bamburgh, 10th-century ruler of Bamburgh
* Ealdred (archbishop of York), 11th-century English ecclesiastic
* Ealdred II of Bamburgh, 11th-century ruler of Bambu ..., the Archbishop of York. [Douglas ''William the Conqueror'' pp. 204–205] William therefore advanced, marching around the coast of Kent
Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west, and Essex to the north across the estuary of the River Thames; it faces ... to London. He defeated an English force that attacked him at Southwark, but being unable to storm London Bridge
Several bridges named London Bridge have spanned the River Thames between the City of London and Southwark, in central London. The current crossing, which opened to traffic in 1973, is a box girder bridge built from concrete and steel. It r ... he sought to reach the capital by a more circuitous route. [Douglas ''William the Conqueror'' pp. 205–206]
William moved up the Thames
The River Thames ( ), known alternatively in parts as the River Isis, is a river that flows through southern England including London. At , it is the longest river entirely in England and the second-longest in the United Kingdom, after the ... valley to cross the river at Wallingford, Berkshire; while there he received the submission of Stigand. He then travelled north-east along the Chilterns, before advancing towards London from the north-west, fighting further engagements against forces from the city. Having failed to muster an effective military response, Edgar's leading supporters lost their nerve, and the English leaders surrendered to William at Berkhamsted
Berkhamsted ( ) is a historic market town in Hertfordshire, England, in the Bulbourne valley, north-west of London. The town is a civil parish with a town council within the borough of Dacorum which is based in the neighbouring large new tow ..., Hertfordshire. William was acclaimed King of England and crowned by Ealdred on 25 December 1066, in Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is an historic, mainly Gothic church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the Unite .... [ The new king attempted to conciliate the remaining English nobility by confirming Morcar, Edwin and Waltheof, the Earl of Northumbria, in their lands as well as giving some land to Edgar the Ætheling. William remained in England until March 1067, when he returned to Normandy with English prisoners, including Stigand, Morcar, Edwin, Edgar the Ætheling, and Waltheof.] [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 138–139]
Despite the submission of the English nobles, resistance continued for several years.
[ William left control of England in the hands of his half-brother ] Odo
Odo or ODO may refer to:
* Odo, a given name; includes a list of people and fictional characters with the name
* Franklin Odo (born 1939), Japanese-American historian
* Seikichi Odo (1927–2002), Japanese karateka
* Yuya Odo (born 1990 ... and one of his closest supporters, William fitzOsbern. [ In 1067 rebels in Kent launched an unsuccessful attack on Dover Castle in combination with Eustace II of Boulogne.] [Douglas ''William the Conqueror'' p. 212] The Shropshire
Shropshire (; alternatively Salop; abbreviated in print only as Shrops; demonym Salopian ) is a landlocked historic county in the West Midlands region of England. It is bordered by Wales to the west and the English counties of Cheshire to ... landowner Eadric the Wild, in alliance with the Welsh rulers of Gwynedd
Gwynedd (; ) is a county and preserved county (latter with differing boundaries; includes the Isle of Anglesey) in the north-west of Wales. It shares borders with Powys, Conwy County Borough, Denbighshire, Anglesey over the Menai Strait, an ... and Powys
Powys (; ) is a county and preserved county in Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain.
..., raised a revolt in western Mercia
la, Merciorum regnum
, conventional_long_name=Kingdom of Mercia
, status_text=Independent kingdom (527–879)Client state of Wessex ()
, era= Heptarchy
, y ..., fighting Norman forces based in Hereford
Hereford () is a cathedral city, civil parish and the county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately east of the border with Wales, south-west of Worcester and north-west of Gloucester. With a populatio .... [ These events forced William to return to England at the end of 1067.] [ In 1068 William besieged rebels in Exeter, including Harold's mother Gytha, and after suffering heavy losses managed to negotiate the town's surrender.] [Walker ''Harold'' pp. 186–190] In May, William's wife Matilda was crowned queen at Westminster, an important symbol of William's growing international stature. [ Later in the year Edwin and Morcar raised a revolt in Mercia with Welsh assistance, while Gospatric, the newly appointed Earl of Northumbria, led a rising in Northumbria, which had not yet been occupied by the Normans. These rebellions rapidly collapsed as William moved against them, building castles and installing garrisons as he had already done in the south.] [Douglas ''William the Conqueror'' pp. 214–215] Edwin and Morcar again submitted, while Gospatric fled to Scotland, as did Edgar the Ætheling and his family, who may have been involved in these revolts. [Williams ''English and the Norman Conquest'' pp. 24–27] Meanwhile, Harold's sons, who had taken refuge in Ireland, raided Somerset
( en, All The People of Somerset)
, locator_map =
, coordinates =
, region = South West England
, established_date = Ancient
, established_by =
, preceded_by =
, origin =
, lord_lieutenant_office =Lord Lieutenant of Somerset
, lor ..., Devon and Cornwall
Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a historic county and ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people. Cornwall is bordered to the north and west by the Atlan ... from the sea. [Williams ''English and the Norman Conquest'' pp. 20–21]
Revolts of 1069
Early in 1069 the newly installed Norman Earl of Northumbria, Robert de Comines, and several hundred soldiers accompanying him were massacred at Durham; the Northumbrian rebellion was joined by Edgar, Gospatric,
Siward Barn ( ang, Sigeweard Bearn) was an 11th-century English thegn and landowner-warrior. He appears in the extant sources in the period following the Norman Conquest of England, joining the northern resistance to William the Conqueror by th ... and other rebels who had taken refuge in Scotland. The castellan of York, Robert fitzRichard, was defeated and killed, and the rebels besieged the Norman castle at York. William hurried north with an army, defeated the rebels outside York and pursued them into the city, massacring the inhabitants and bringing the revolt to an end. [Williams ''English and the Norman Conquest'' pp. 27–34] He built a second castle at York, strengthened Norman forces in Northumbria and then returned south. A subsequent local uprising was crushed by the garrison of York. [ Harold's sons launched a second raid from Ireland and were defeated at the Battle of Northam in Devon by Norman forces under Count ] Brian
Brian (sometimes spelled Bryan in English) is a male given name of Irish and Breton origin, as well as a surname of Occitan origin. It is common in the English-speaking world.
It is possible that the name is derived from an Old Celtic word m ..., a son of Eudes, Count of Penthièvre. [Williams ''English and the Norman Conquest'' p. 35] In August or September 1069 a large fleet sent by Sweyn II of Denmark
Sweyn Estridsson Ulfsson ( on, Sveinn Ástríðarson, da, Svend Estridsen; – 28 April 1076) was King of Denmark (being Sweyn II) from 1047 until his death in 1076. He was the son of Ulf Thorgilsson and Estrid Svendsdatter, and the grandson ... arrived off the coast of England, sparking a new wave of rebellions across the country. After abortive raids in the south, the Danes joined forces with a new Northumbrian uprising, which was also joined by Edgar, Gospatric and the other exiles from Scotland as well as Waltheof. The combined Danish and English forces defeated the Norman garrison at York, seized the castles and took control of Northumbria, although a raid into Lincolnshire led by Edgar was defeated by the Norman garrison of Lincoln. [Williams ''English and the Norman Conquest'' pp. 35–41]
At the same time resistance flared up again in western Mercia, where the forces of Eadric the Wild, together with his Welsh allies and further rebel forces from Cheshire
Cheshire ( ) is a ceremonial and historic county in North West England, bordered by Wales to the west, Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, and Staffordshire and Shropshire to the south. Cheshire's coun ... and Shropshire, attacked the castle at Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury ( , also ) is a market town, civil parish, and the county town of Shropshire, England, on the River Severn, north-west of London; at the 2021 census, it had a population of 76,782. The town's name can be pronounced as either .... In the southwest, rebels from Devon and Cornwall attacked the Norman garrison at Exeter but were repulsed by the defenders and scattered by a Norman relief force under Count Brian. Other rebels from Dorset
Dorset ( ; archaically: Dorsetshire , ) is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The ceremonial county comprises the unitary authority areas of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and Dorset. Covering an area of ..., Somerset and neighbouring areas besieged Montacute Castle but were defeated by a Norman army gathered from London, Winchester
Winchester is a cathedral city in Hampshire, England. The city lies at the heart of the wider City of Winchester, a local government district, at the western end of the South Downs National Park, on the River Itchen. It is south-west of Lo ... and Salisbury
Salisbury ( ) is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England with a population of 41,820, at the confluence of the rivers Avon, Nadder and Bourne. The city is approximately from Southampton and from Bath.
Salisbury is in the southeast of W ... under Geoffrey of Coutances. [ Meanwhile, William attacked the Danes, who had moored for the winter south of the Humber in Lincolnshire, and drove them back to the north bank. Leaving ] Robert of Mortain
Robert, Count of Mortain, 2nd Earl of Cornwall (–) was a Norman nobleman and the half-brother (on their mother's side) of King William the Conqueror. He was one of the very few proven companions of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hast ... in charge of Lincolnshire, he turned west and defeated the Mercian rebels in battle at Stafford
Stafford () is a market town and the county town of Staffordshire, in the West Midlands region of England. It lies about north of Wolverhampton, south of Stoke-on-Trent and northwest of Birmingham. The town had a population of 70,145 i .... When the Danes attempted to return to Lincolnshire, the Norman forces there again drove them back across the Humber. William advanced into Northumbria, defeating an attempt to block his crossing of the swollen River Aire
The River Aire is a major river in Yorkshire, England, in length. The ''Handbook for Leeds and Airedale'' (1890) notes that the distance from Malham to Howden is direct, but the river's meanderings extend that to . Between Malham Tarn and Ai ... at Pontefract
Pontefract is a historic market town in the Metropolitan Borough of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England, east of Wakefield and south of Castleford. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is one of the towns in the City of .... The Danes fled at his approach, and he occupied York. He bought off the Danes, who agreed to leave England in the spring, and during the winter of 1069–70 his forces systematically devastated Northumbria in the Harrying of the North
The Harrying of the North was a series of campaigns waged by William the Conqueror in the winter of 1069–1070 to subjugate northern England, where the presence of the last Wessex claimant, Edgar Ætheling, had encouraged Anglo- Danish reb ..., subduing all resistance. [ As a symbol of his renewed authority over the north, William ceremonially wore his crown at York on Christmas Day 1069.] [
In early 1070, having secured the submission of Waltheof and Gospatric, and driven Edgar and his remaining supporters back to Scotland, William returned to Mercia, where he based himself at Chester and crushed all remaining resistance in the area before returning to the south.] [ ] Papal legate
300px, A woodcut showing Henry II of England greeting the pope's legate.
A papal legate or apostolic legate (from the ancient Roman title '' legatus'') is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic ...s arrived and at Easter re-crowned William, which would have symbolically reasserted his right to the kingdom. William also oversaw a purge of prelates from the Church, most notably Stigand, who was deposed from Canterbury. The papal legates also imposed penance
Penance is any act or a set of actions done out of repentance for sins committed, as well as an alternate name for the Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. It also plays a pa ...s on William and those of his supporters who had taken part in Hastings and the subsequent campaigns. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 145–146] As well as Canterbury, the see of York had become vacant following the death of Ealdred in September 1069. Both sees were filled by men loyal to William: Lanfranc
Lanfranc, OSB (1005 1010 – 24 May 1089) was a celebrated Italian jurist who renounced his career to become a Benedictine monk at Bec in Normandy. He served successively as prior of Bec Abbey and abbot of St Stephen in Normandy and t ..., abbot of William's foundation at Caen
Caen (, ; nrf, Kaem) is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the department of Calvados. The city proper has 105,512 inhabitants (), while its functional urban area has 470,000,
[Thomas of Bayeux, one of William's chaplains, was installed at York. Some other bishoprics and abbeys also received new bishops and abbots and William confiscated some of the wealth of the English monasteries, which had served as repositories for the assets of the native nobles.] [Bennett ''Campaigns of the Norman Conquest'' p. 56]
In 1070 Sweyn II of Denmark arrived to take personal command of his fleet and renounced the earlier agreement to withdraw, sending troops into
The Fens, also known as the , in eastern England are a naturally marshy region supporting a rich ecology and numerous species. Most of the fens were drained centuries ago, resulting in a flat, dry, low-lying agricultural region supported by a ... to join forces with English rebels led by Hereward the Wake
Hereward the Wake (Traditional pronunciation /ˈhɛ.rɛ.ward/, modern pronunciation /ˈhɛ.rɪ.wəd/) (1035 – 1072) (also known as Hereward the Outlaw or Hereward the Exile) was an Anglo-Saxon nobleman and a leader of local resista ..., at that time based on the Isle of Ely
The Isle of Ely () is a historic region around the city of Ely in Cambridgeshire, England. Between 1889 and 1965, it formed an administrative county.
Its name has been said to mean "island of eels", a reference to the creatures tha .... Sweyn soon accepted a further payment of Danegeld
Danegeld (; "Danish tax", literally "Dane yield" or tribute) was a tax raised to pay tribute or protection money to the Viking raiders to save a land from being ravaged. It was called the ''geld'' or ''gafol'' in eleventh-century sources. I ... from William, and returned home. [Douglas ''William the Conqueror'' pp. 221–222] After the departure of the Danes the Fenland rebels remained at large, protected by the marshes, and early in 1071 there was a final outbreak of rebel activity in the area. Edwin and Morcar again turned against William, and although Edwin was quickly betrayed and killed, Morcar reached Ely, where he and Hereward were joined by exiled rebels who had sailed from Scotland. William arrived with an army and a fleet to finish off this last pocket of resistance. After some costly failures the Normans managed to construct a pontoon to reach the Isle of Ely, defeated the rebels at the bridgehead and stormed the island, marking the effective end of English resistance. [Williams ''English and the Norman Conquest'' pp. 49–57] Morcar was imprisoned for the rest of his life; Hereward was pardoned and had his lands returned to him. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 146–147]
William faced difficulties in his continental possessions in 1071,
[Douglas ''William the Conqueror'' pp. 225–226] but in 1072 he returned to England and marched north to confront King Malcolm III of Scotland
Malcolm III ( mga, Máel Coluim mac Donnchada, label= Medieval Gaelic; gd, Maol Chaluim mac Dhonnchaidh; died 13 November 1093) was King of Scotland from 1058 to 1093. He was later nicknamed "Canmore" ("ceann mòr", Gaelic, literally "big hea .... This campaign, which included a land army supported by a fleet, resulted in the Treaty of Abernethy in which Malcolm expelled Edgar the Ætheling from Scotland and agreed to some degree of subordination to William. [ The exact status of this subordination was unclear – the treaty merely stated that Malcolm became William's man. Whether this meant only for Cumbria and Lothian or for the whole Scottish kingdom was left ambiguous.] [Douglas ''William the Conqueror'' p. 227]
In 1075, during William's absence, Ralph de Gael
Ralph de Gaël (otherwise Ralph de Guader, Ralph Wader or Radulf Waders or Ralf Waiet or Rodulfo de Waiet; before 1042c. 1100) was the Earl of East Anglia ( Norfolk and Suffolk) and Lord of Gaël and Montfort (''Seigneur de Gaël et Montfort ..., the Earl of Norfolk, and Roger de Breteuil the Earl of Hereford
The title of Earl of Hereford was created six times in the Peerage of England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom ..., conspired to overthrow him in the Revolt of the Earls
The Revolt of the Earls in 1075 was a rebellion of three earls against William I of England (William the Conqueror). It was the last serious act of resistance against William in the Norman Conquest.
The revolt was caused by the king's re .... [ The exact reason for the rebellion is unclear, but it was launched at the wedding of Ralph to a relative of Roger's, held at ] Exning
Exning is a village and civil parish in the West Suffolk district of Suffolk in eastern England.
It lies just off the A14 trunk road, roughly east-northeast of Cambridge, and south-southeast of Ely. The nearest large town is Newmarket.
Th .... Another earl, Waltheof, despite being one of William's favourites, was also involved, and some Breton lords were ready to offer support. Ralph also requested Danish aid. William remained in Normandy while his men in England subdued the revolt. Roger was unable to leave his stronghold in Herefordshire because of efforts by Wulfstan, the Bishop of Worcester
A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of authority and oversight in a religious institution.
In Christianity, bishops are normally responsible for the governance of dioceses. The role or office of bishop is ..., and Æthelwig, the Abbot of Evesham
The Abbot of Evesham was the head of Evesham Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Worcestershire founded in the Anglo-Saxon era of English history. The succession continued until the dissolution of the monastery in 1540.
* .... Ralph was bottled up in Norwich Castle by the combined efforts of Odo of Bayeux, Geoffrey of Coutances, Richard fitzGilbert, and William de Warenne. Norwich was besieged and surrendered, and Ralph went into exile. Meanwhile, the Danish king's brother, Cnut
Cnut (; ang, Cnut cyning; non, Knútr inn ríki ; or , no, Knut den mektige, sv, Knut den Store. died 12 November 1035), also known as Cnut the Great and Canute, was King of England from 1016, King of Denmark from 1018, and King of Norway ..., had finally arrived in England with a fleet of 200 ships, but he was too late as Norwich had already surrendered. The Danes then raided along the coast before returning home. [ William did not return to England until later in 1075, to deal with the Danish threat and the aftermath of the rebellion, celebrating Christmas at Winchester.] [Bates ''William the Conqueror'' pp. 181–182] Roger and Waltheof were kept in prison, where Waltheof was executed in May 1076. By that time William had returned to the continent, where Ralph was continuing the rebellion from Brittany. [Douglas ''William the Conqueror'' pp. 231–233]
Control of England
Once England had been conquered, the Normans faced many challenges in maintaining control.
[Stafford ''Unification and Conquest'' pp. 102–105] They were few in number compared to the native English population; including those from other parts of France, historians estimate the number of Norman landholders at around 8000. [Carpenter ''Struggle for Mastery'' pp. 82–83] William's followers expected and received lands and titles in return for their service in the invasion, [Carpenter ''Struggle for Mastery'' pp. 79–80] but William claimed ultimate possession of the land in England over which his armies had given him ''de facto'' control, and asserted the right to dispose of it as he saw fit. [ Henceforth, all land was "held" directly from the king in feudal tenure in return for military service.] [Carpenter ''Struggle for Mastery'' p. 84] A Norman lord typically had properties scattered piecemeal throughout England and Normandy, and not in a single geographic block. [Carpenter ''Struggle for Mastery'' pp. 83–84]
To find the lands to compensate his Norman followers, William initially confiscated the estates of all the English lords who had fought and died with Harold and redistributed part of their lands. [Carpenter ''Struggle for Mastery'' pp. 75–76] These confiscations led to revolts, which resulted in more confiscations, a cycle that continued for five years after the Battle of Hastings. [ To put down and prevent further rebellions the Normans constructed castles and fortifications in unprecedented numbers,] [Chibnall ''Anglo-Norman England'' pp. 11–13] initially mostly on the motte-and-bailey
A motte-and-bailey castle is a European fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised area of ground called a motte, accompanied by a walled courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade. Relatively easy to ... pattern. [Kaufman and Kaufman ''Medieval Fortress'' p. 110] Historian Robert Liddiard remarks that "to glance at the urban landscape of Norwich, Durham or Lincoln is to be forcibly reminded of the impact of the Norman invasion". William and his barons also exercised tighter control over inheritance of property by widows and daughters, often forcing marriages to Normans. [Carpenter ''Struggle for Mastery'' p. 89]
A measure of William's success in taking control is that, from 1072 until the Capetian conquest of Normandy in 1204, William and his successors were largely absentee rulers. For example, after 1072, William spent more than 75 per cent of his time in France rather than England. While he needed to be personally present in Normandy to defend the realm from foreign invasion and put down internal revolts, he set up royal administrative structures that enabled him to rule England from a distance. [Carpenter ''Struggle for Mastery'' p. 91]
A direct consequence of the invasion was the almost total elimination of the old English aristocracy and the loss of English control over the
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ... in England. William systematically dispossessed English landowners and conferred their property on his continental followers. The Domesday Book
Domesday Book () – the Middle English spelling of "Doomsday Book" – is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William I, known as William the Conqueror. The manusc ... of 1086 meticulously documents the impact of this colossal programme of expropriation, revealing that by that time only about 5 per cent of land in England south of the Tees was left in English hands. Even this tiny residue was further diminished in the decades that followed, the elimination of native landholding being most complete in southern parts of the country.
Natives were also removed from high governmental and ecclesiastical offices. After 1075 all earldoms were held by Normans, and Englishmen were only occasionally appointed as sheriffs. Likewise in the Church, senior English office-holders were either expelled from their positions or kept in place for their lifetimes and replaced by foreigners when they died. By 1096 no bishopric was held by any Englishman, and English abbots became uncommon, especially in the larger monasteries.
Following the conquest, many Anglo-Saxons, including groups of nobles, fled the country
[Ciggaar ''Western Travellers'' pp. 140–141] for Scotland, Ireland, or Scandinavia. [Daniell ''From Norman Conquest to Magna Carta'' pp. 13–14] Members of King Harold Godwinson's family sought refuge in Ireland and used their bases in that country for unsuccessful invasions of England. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 140–141] The largest single exodus occurred in the 1070s, when a group of Anglo-Saxons in a fleet of 235 ships sailed for the Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It surv .... [ The empire became a popular destination for many English nobles and soldiers, as the Byzantines were in need of mercenaries.] [ The English became the predominant element in the elite ] Varangian Guard
The Varangian Guard ( el, Τάγμα τῶν Βαράγγων, ''Tágma tōn Varángōn'') was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army from the tenth to the fourteenth century who served as personal bodyguards to the Byzantine emperors. The Varang ..., until then a largely Scandinavian unit, from which the emperor's bodyguard was drawn. Some of the English migrants were settled in Byzantine frontier regions on the Black Sea
The Black Sea is a marginal mediterranean sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asia, east of the Balkans, south of the East European Plain, west of the Caucasus, and north of Anatolia. It is bounded by Bulgaria, Geor ... coast and established towns with names such as New London and New York. [
Before the Normans arrived, Anglo-Saxon governmental systems were more sophisticated than their counterparts in Normandy.
[Thomas ''Norman Conquest'' p. 59] [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' p. 187] All of England was divided into administrative units called shire
Shire is a traditional term for an administrative division of land in Great Britain and some other English-speaking countries such as Australia and New Zealand. It is generally synonymous with county. It was first used in Wessex from the beginn ...s, with subdivisions; the royal court was the centre of government, and a justice system based on local and regional tribunals existed to secure the rights of free men. [Loyn ''Governance of Anglo-Saxon England'' p. 176] Shires were run by officials known as shire reeves or sheriff
A sheriff is a government official, with varying duties, existing in some countries with historical ties to England where the office originated. There is an analogous, although independently developed, office in Iceland that is commonly transl ...s. [Thomas ''Norman Conquest'' p. 60] Most medieval governments were always on the move, holding court wherever the weather and food or other matters were best at the moment; [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' p. 31] England had a permanent treasury at Winchester
Winchester is a cathedral city in Hampshire, England. The city lies at the heart of the wider City of Winchester, a local government district, at the western end of the South Downs National Park, on the River Itchen. It is south-west of Lo ... before William's conquest. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 194–195] One major reason for the strength of the English monarchy was the wealth of the kingdom, built on the English system of taxation that included a land tax, or the geld. English coinage was also superior to most of the other currencies in use in northwestern Europe, and the ability to mint coins was a royal monopoly. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 36–37] The English kings had also developed the system of issuing writ
In common law, a writ (Anglo-Saxon ''gewrit'', Latin ''breve'') is a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction; in modern usage, this body is generally a court. Warrants, prerogative writs, subpoenas, a ...s to their officials, in addition to the normal medieval practice of issuing charter
A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified. It is implicit that the granter retains superiority (or sovereignty), and that the ...s. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 198–199] Writs were either instructions to an official or group of officials, or notifications of royal actions such as appointments to office or a grant of some sort. [Keynes "Charters and Writs" ''Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England'' p. 100]
This sophisticated medieval form of government was handed over to the Normans and was the foundation of further developments. [ They kept the framework of government but made changes in the personnel, although at first the new king attempted to keep some natives in office. By the end of William's reign most of the officials of government and the royal household were Normans. The language of official documents also changed, from ] Old English
Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the mid-5th ... to Latin. The forest laws were introduced, leading to the setting aside of large sections of England as royal forest
A royal forest, occasionally known as a kingswood (), is an area of land with different definitions in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The term ''forest'' in the ordinary modern understanding refers to an area of wooded land; however, the .... [ The Domesday survey was an administrative catalogue of the landholdings of the kingdom, and was unique to medieval Europe. It was divided into sections based on the shires, and listed all the landholdings of each ] tenant-in-chief
In medieval and early modern Europe, the term ''tenant-in-chief'' (or ''vassal-in-chief'') denoted a person who held his lands under various forms of feudal land tenure directly from the king or territorial prince to whom he did homage, as oppo ... of the king as well as who had held the land before the conquest. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 200–201]
One of the most obvious effects of the conquest was the introduction of Anglo-Norman, a northern dialect of
Old French (, , ; Modern French: ) was the language spoken in most of the northern half of France from approximately the 8th to the 14th centuries. Rather than a unified language, Old French was a linkage of Romance dialects, mutually intelli ... with limited Nordic influences, as the language of the ruling classes in England, displacing Old English. Norman French
Norman or Norman French (, french: Normand, Guernésiais: , Jèrriais: ) is a Romance language which can be classified as one of the Oïl languages along with French, Picard and Walloon. The name "Norman French" is sometimes used to descr ... words entered the English language, and a further sign of the shift was the usage of names common in France instead of Anglo-Saxon names
Germanic given names are traditionally dithematic; that is, they are formed from two elements, by joining a prefix and a suffix. For example, King Æþelred's name was derived from ', for "noble", and ', for "counsel".
However, there are also .... Male names such as William
William is a male given name of Germanic origin.Hanks, Hardcastle and Hodges, ''Oxford Dictionary of First Names'', Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, , p. 276. It became very popular in the English language after the Norman conquest of Engl ..., Robert
The name Robert is an ancient Germanic given name, from Proto-Germanic "fame" and "bright" (''Hrōþiberhtaz''). Compare Old Dutch ''Robrecht'' and Old High German ''Hrodebert'' (a compound of '' Hruod'' ( non, Hróðr) "fame, glory, honou ..., and Richard
Richard is a male given name. It originates, via Old French, from Old Frankish and is a compound of the words descending from Proto-Germanic ''*rīk-'' 'ruler, leader, king' and ''*hardu-'' 'strong, brave, hardy', and it therefore means 'stro ... soon became common; female names changed more slowly. The Norman invasion had little impact on placenames
Toponymy, toponymics, or toponomastics is the study of ''toponyms'' (proper names of places, also known as place names and geographic names), including their origins, meanings, usage and types. Toponym is the general term for a proper name of ..., which had changed significantly after earlier Scandinavian invasions. It is not known precisely how much English the Norman invaders learned, nor how much the knowledge of Norman French spread among the lower classes, but the demands of trade and basic communication probably meant that at least some of the Normans and native English were bilingual. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 323–324] Nevertheless, William the Conqueror
William I; ang, WillelmI (Bates ''William the Conqueror'' p. 33– 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman king of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 10 ... never developed a working knowledge of English and for centuries afterwards English was not well understood by the nobility. [Crystal "Story of Middle English" ''English Language'']
Immigration and intermarriage
An estimated 8000 Normans and other continentals settled in England as a result of the conquest, although exact figures cannot be established. Some of these new residents intermarried with the native English, but the extent of this practice in the years immediately after Hastings is unclear. Several marriages are attested between Norman men and English women during the years before 1100, but such marriages were uncommon. Most Normans continued to contract marriages with other Normans or other continental families rather than with the English.
[Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 321–322] Within a century of the invasion, intermarriage between the native English and the Norman immigrants had become common. By the early 1160s, Ailred of Rievaulx was writing that intermarriage was common in all levels of society. [Thomas ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 107–109]
The impact of the conquest on the lower levels of English society is difficult to assess. The major change was the elimination of slavery in England, which had disappeared by the middle of the 12th century.
[Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' p. 327] There were about 28,000 slaves listed in ''Domesday Book'' in 1086, fewer than had been enumerated for 1066. In some places, such as Essex, the decline in slaves was 20 per cent for the 20 years. [Clanchy ''England and its Rulers'' p. 93] The main reasons for the decline in slaveholding appear to have been the disapproval of the Church and the cost of supporting slaves who, unlike serf
Serfdom was the status of many peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism, and similar systems. It was a condition of debt bondage and indentured servitude with similarities to and differences from slavery, which develo ...s, had to be maintained entirely by their owners. [Huscroft ''Ruling England'' p. 94] The practice of slavery was not outlawed, and the '' Leges Henrici Primi
The ''Leges Henrici Primi'' or ''Laws of Henry I'' is a legal treatise, written in about 1115, that records the legal customs of medieval England in the reign of King Henry I of England. Although it is not an official document, it was written ...'' from the reign of King Henry I continue to mention slaveholding as legal. [
Many of the free peasants of Anglo-Saxon society appear to have lost status and become indistinguishable from the non-free serfs. Whether this change was due entirely to the conquest is unclear, but the invasion and its after-effects probably accelerated a process already under way. The spread of towns and increase in nucleated settlements in the countryside, rather than scattered farms, was probably accelerated by the coming of the Normans to England.] [ The lifestyle of the peasantry probably did not greatly change in the decades after 1066.] [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' p. 329] Although earlier historians argued that women became less free and lost rights with the conquest, current scholarship has mostly rejected this view. Little is known about women other than those in the landholding class, so no conclusions can be drawn about peasant women's status after 1066. Noblewomen appear to have continued to influence political life mainly through their kinship relationships. Both before and after 1066 aristocratic women could own land, and some women continued to have the ability to dispose of their property as they wished. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 281–283]
Debate over the conquest started almost immediately. The ''
The ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'' is a collection of annals in Old English, chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the ''Chronicle'' was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Al ...'', when discussing the death of William the Conqueror, denounced him and the conquest in verse, but the king's obituary notice from William of Poitiers, a Frenchman, was full of praise. Historians since then have argued over the facts of the matter and how to interpret them, with little agreement. [ The theory or myth of the " Norman yoke" arose in the 17th century,] [Chibnall ''Debate'' p. 6] the idea that Anglo-Saxon society had been freer and more equal than the society that emerged after the conquest. [Chibnall ''Debate'' p. 38] This theory owes more to the period in which it was developed than to historical facts, but it continues to be used to the present day in both political and popular thought. [Huscroft ''Norman Conquest'' pp. 318–319]
In the 20th and 21st centuries, historians have focused less on the rightness or wrongness of the conquest itself, instead concentrating on the effects of the invasion. Some, such as Richard Southern
Sir Richard William Southern (8 February 1912 – 6 February 2001), who published under the name R. W. Southern, was a noted English medieval historian based at the University of Oxford.
Southern was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne ..., have seen the conquest as a critical turning point in history. [Clanchy ''England and its Rulers'' pp. 31–35] Southern stated that "no country in Europe, between the rise of the barbarian kingdoms and the 20th century, has undergone so radical a change in so short a time as England experienced after 1066". [Quoted in Clanchy ''England and its Rulers'' p. 32] Other historians, such as H. G. Richardson and G. O. Sayles, believe that the transformation was less radical. [ In more general terms, Singman has called the conquest "the last echo of the national migrations that characterized the early Middle Ages".] [Singman ''Daily Life'' p. xv] The debate over the impact of the conquest depends on how change after 1066 is measured. If Anglo-Saxon England
Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of Roman Britain until the Norman conquest in 1066, consisted of various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 927, when it was united as the Kingdom of ... was already evolving before the invasion, with the introduction of feudalism
Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, cultural and political customs that flourished in medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structur ..., castles or other changes in society, then the conquest, while important, did not represent radical reform. But the change was dramatic if measured by the elimination of the English nobility or the loss of Old English as a literary language. Nationalistic arguments have been made on both sides of the debate, with the Normans cast as either the persecutors of the English or the rescuers of the country from a decadent Anglo-Saxon nobility. [
* Ermenfrid Penitential
Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland
The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland took place during the late 12th century, when Anglo-Normans gradually conquered and acquired large swathes of land from the Irish, over which the kings of England then claimed sovereignty, all allegedly sanc ...
* Norman invasion of Wales
The Norman invasion of Wales began shortly after the Norman conquest of England under William the Conqueror, who believed England to be his birthright. Initially (1067–1081), the invasion of Wales was not undertaken with the fervour and purpose ...
* Norman conquest of southern Italy
The Norman conquest of southern Italy lasted from 999 to 1139, involving many battles and independent conquerors.
In 1130, the territories in southern Italy united as the Kingdom of Sicily, which included the island of Sicily, the southern th ...
Essential Norman Conquest
Osprey Publishing is a British, Oxford-based, publishing company specializing in military history. Predominantly an illustrated publisher, many of their books contain full-colour artwork plates, maps and photographs, and the company produces ov ...
Normans – a background to the Conquest
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1066 in England
11th century in England
Conquest of Engand
England in the High Middle Ages
Military history of England
Conquest of Engand
Succession to the British crown
William the Conqueror