Norman Conquest of England (1066-1072)

Bayeaux Tapestry

The Bayeaux Tapestry, depicting the Norman Invasion of England

Norman Conquest of England(Sept. 28, 1066-1072): William, the Duke of Normandy, invaded England in the autumn of 1066, beginning a campaign of conquest leading to his crowning as the King of England and the establishment of Norman rule over England.

The story of The Conquest, as it is known in England, began with the death of the old king of England, Edward the Confessor. King Edward had no sons to inherit his throne, a four-way conflict developed over who would become the next King of England. The English Witanagemot, the traditional council of nobles, chose Harold Godwinson as the new king. The other claimants included; King Harold's half-brother, Tostig Godwinson, Harald Hardrada, the King of Norway, and William, Duke of Normandy, a region in northwest France.

Both Tostig and Harald Hardrada invaded England to unseat King Harold, but both attacks failed. The third invasion, by William of Normandy, proved successful. William landed his invasion force of nearly 7,000 Normans and assorted European mercenaries on Sept. 28, 1066 at Pevensey. Following this landing, he built a base near Hastings.

Harold marched toward Hastings after defeating and killing Harald Hardrada and Tostig at Stamford Bridge, a victory which left his army tired and weakened. On Oct. 14, 1066, the Anglo-Saxon army of England battled the invading Normans. The battle ended with Haroald dead and William of Normandy as the sole living claimant to the throne. William then marched his forces northward toward London, defeating the English at Southwark. Journeying toward the capital city, William received the surrender and submission of several important Anglo-Saxon nobles, and was crowned as King William (the First) on December 25, 1066. This ended the first phase of the Norman Conquest of England.

William still had to consolidate his power, and over the next several years, he and his Norman followers defeated several Anglo-Saxon rebellions, including an invasion by Harold Godwinson's surviving sons. The Anglo-Saxon rebel, Hereford the Wake, was defeated at the Battle of Ely Isle in 1070, and a final campaign in 1072 finally brought northern England under William's control.

The Norman Conquest is significant for several reasons. William was the new King of England, but he was also still the Duke of Normandy in France, which put him and his successors in the awkward position of ruling one counrty, while still serving as a vassal (underling) of another country's ruler, in this case, the King of France. This dilemma set up England and France for hundreds of years worth of warfare as the ruling families of each kingdom battled for control of both countries. (See the History Guy page on the Anglo-French Wars).

Also, The Conquest created an ongoing link between the island of Great Britain (which includes England, Scotland, and Wales) with the European Continent through the connection of England and French Normandy. This connection can be seen in the development of English culture, language, history, and economics.

See also: Wars and Conflicts of Great Britain


Predecessor Conflicts: (Prior related conflicts )

Tostig's Rebellion (1066)

Norwegian (Viking) Invasion of England (1066)

Successor Conflicts: (Related conflicts occurring at a later time)

Ongoing Anglo-Saxon Resistance to Norman rule

Anglo-French War (1109-1113)


BEGAN: Sept. 28, 1066--This is the date William landed his forces in England.

ENDED: 1072--William's final campaign which ended formal Anglo-Saxon resistance in northern England

Norman Conquest of England

Outside Links

Battle of Fulford--Article on one of the battles of 1066

Norman Conquest--Wikipedia article

Hereford The Wake--Wikipedia article


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