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Eva March Tappan

The Norman Conquest

Historical Note

IN 1066, the English king, Edward the Confessor, died. His mother was of Norman birth, and he himself had spent many years in Normandy. Among his friends in that country was his young cousin, Duke William, and to him Edward promised to bequeath his crown. But Earl Harold of England was the choice of the English people, and him they made their king.

When William heard this he at once prepared to invade England and sent heralds the length and breadth of Europe, offering good fighting and a fair share in the plunder to whoso would aid him in wresting England from Earl Harold. In the mean time England was in danger from another quarter, for Harold's brother Tostig persuaded King Harold Hardrada of Norway to lead a plundering expedition against her shores. At Stamford Bridge, the Northern invaders were met and defeated by Harold, but in the mean time William and his army of adventurers had crossed the Channel and landed in England. Hastening south with his battle-worn army, Harold met the Normans on the 14th day of October, in the year 1066, on the fatal field of Hastings. By Christmas Day of the same year the Saxon chiefs that were left alive had sullenly submitted to William the Conqueror and he was crowned King of England.

The first five years of William's reign were spent in stamping out the last embers of Saxon resistance. This done, he turned his attention to administering the realm he had won, and before his death in 1087 he had remodeled the English Church, cut away the power of the great nobles, completed a survey of all the estates of England, and recorded their ownership in the famous Doomsday Book.