The Norman Conquest

From preparations to the Battle of Hastings

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Williams Preparations


  • Count of Anjou dead, Williams father-in-law became regent - easy to get French support
  • William was related to Tostig - wouldn't be a problem for William
  • Geffrey of Anjou dead, disputed between his nephews - William conquered Maine.
  • The whole coastline from Ushant to the Scheldt was under Williams control.
  • He got the regent for Emperor Henry IV and King Svegn to promise neutrality.


  • Approached Alexander III, accused Harold of spiritual charges
  • Got papal support - Several attractive promises made - English church to be reformed, payment of Peter's Pence resumed, England to become a papal fief.


Barlow "The stars in their courses fought for William..."

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Harolds Preparations

  • Secures loyalty of Northumbria - Wulfstan of Worcester
  • Marries Ealdgyth to get Edwin and Morcar on his side - protection from the viking threat in the North - Needs to be down south as this is where William will probably invade
  • Doesn't have many allies other than Swegn of Denmark as Henry III had died and Pope Alexander II wouldn't support someone who supported a man like Stigund
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The Norwegian Invasion

Hardrada's Claim

  • Claim was based on a promise made by Harthacanute to Magnus, King of Norway to leave him his possessions if he died first, a promise which the AS's ignored.
  • He believed he could call upon the support of Scandinavian people in the Orkneys, Scotland and Northern England.
  • He also had the support of the former Earl of Northumbria and Tostig.

Gate Fulford

  • Hardrada's way to York was blocked by Edwin & Morcar, the battle raged all day and ended in the total defeat of the AS's. They lost thousands of troops.

Stamford Bridge

  •  Harold heard of the defeat and marched 190 miles in 4 days, took the Vikings by surprise and completely slaughtered them in battle by the River Derwent. Hardrada, Tostig and most of the army died and only 24/300 ships returned home.
  • Purser "The most feared warrior in Christendom was killed..."
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Post-Stamford Situation

  • Hardrada and Tostig dead, threat to the North had been neutralised
  • Whilst Harold's army had been victorious, it had taken great losses
  • Edwin and Morcar were busy regrouping their scattered army
  • News begins to arrive that William had landed at Pevensey (When William fell on the shingle)
  • Harold marches south with the survivors -> London council of war, have already fought a battle and walked the length of the country twice - maybe this is why they lost the Battle of Hastings
  • Before going to Hastings, Harold stopped in London - wanted to get more men, reinforcements and some rest before battling again. Needed a plan of attack and information about where William was.
  • Harold stopped for a very short time - troops were keyed up and confident, William encouraging Harold to move quickly by burning villages in the South, Harold doesn't want the battle to be brought to the capital and surprising Hardrada at Stamford Bridge had worked well so Harold wanted to try the tactic again.
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Battle of Hastings

  • At 9:00am on October 14th 1066, William began his attack
  • Started with infantry and archers but neither had much impact on the AS sheild wall
  • The calvary - with horses trained to kick and bite - still couldn't break the wall
  • The advantage of being on a steep slope began to pay off for the AS's
  • It wasn't till hours later that this changed - Feigned retreat
  • Norman's panicking - think that William is dead until he takes his helmet off
  • 3 horses died beneath William
  • Saxons, thinking William to be dead, leave hilltop and are cut down
  • Feigned retreat used at least twice, peasants deserted, AS's losing
  • By sunset, Harold, his brother Gyrth and the housecarls were dead
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