Norman Conquest of England part one

From the death of Edward the confessor to the battle of Hastings

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Harold Godwinson's claim
He was the brother in law to the previous King, although was not a blood relative. He was an established man in England's government and was popular with the people. He was the leader of the witan. Edward the Confessor told him he was to be his heir.
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William's claim
He was a childhood friend of Edward. He had been allegedly promised the throne in 1051 and 1064. He had the backing of the Pope to invade.
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Hardrada's claim
Claimed that Canute promised the throne to his co-ruler, king Magnus. Therefore he assumed the throne was rightfully his.
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Edgar atheling's claim
Was the only living blood relative of Edward but made no claim as he was too young at the time of his death.
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The 1051 promise
William came to the English church in 1051 where he apparently was made the heir while the Godwin family were in exile.
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The 1064 oath
Harold went to normandy in 1064 where he made an oath to the Duke. What he said is unknown but the Norman sources believe he promised the throne to William
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Edward's death 1066
5th January, he promised the throne to Harold on his deathbed and the English welcomed him because he was familiar to them.
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Harold's coronation
He was crowned after the funeral of Edward. It had the same traditions as Edward's coronation. Harley's comet was seen and thought to be a bad omen for his reign.
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William reaction
William accused Harold of being a usurper and went to the Pope for permission to invade on the grounds that he was crowned by an Archbishop who was wrongfully in office.
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Spring 1066 - England
Harold knew that the Norman invasion would be eminent. He placed his fyrd along the south coast to keep watch, but by the end of summer, it still hadn't arrived.
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Spring 1066 - Normandy
William was preparing for an invasion. He was building the ships and recruiting men but couldn't cross the channel before summer because of the wind direction.
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September 8th 1066
Harold had to dismiss the southern fyrd because he could no longer provide for the men and the harvest needed collecting. Their time of service had ended weeks ago. People would begin to suffer if they had remained any longer.
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September 20th 1066
Battle of gate Fulford follows the arrival of Harald Hardrada and Tostig. They defeat the Earls Edwin and Morcar and move closer to York.
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Harold hears about Hardrada
After dismissing the southern fyrd, Harold hears that Hardrada has landed. He marches his remaining troops 194 miles in 4 days to catch the enemy by surprise.
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September 25th 1066
Harold surprises the enemy at the battle of Stamford bridge. The battle lasts all day and is bloody but Hardrada and Tostig are killed. The Vikings leave in 24 of the 300 ships they arrived in.
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September 28th 1066
William lands in Pevensey on the south coast. They pillage Wessex to coax Harold southward quicker.
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Harold returns south
Harold leaves many men in the north and travels 194 in 4 more days to reach London and recruitment and restock before heading to Hastings to surprise William.
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Williams spies
William sends spies out ahead from Hastings. They spot Harold on his approach and inform William. Harolds surprise attempt fails.
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Harold's army at Hastings
Many knights, more members of the fyrd that have been quickly recruited en route. Few horses but the English have the better starting position.
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Williams army at Hastings
More knights than the English, more cavalry but worse starting position. Both armies number roughly the same.
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Start of the battle of Hastings
The shield wall holds firm on the hill. The Normans cannot attack it with their arrows and those who charge are killed by what is thrown down the hill.
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Feared death of William
The Bretons think William has been killed so begin to flee. William reveals himself dangerously but survives.
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Feigned retreat
The fleeing Bretons caused many Englishmen to chase them down the hill. This broke up the shield wall and killed was used three times.
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William's victory
After the shield wall broke up, Harold had little defence. William moved his archers to the back of the field and one arrow hit Harold, killing him.
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What was to blame? - Harold's mistakes
Too quick to leave the north? Little preparation? Bad luck? Viking invasion?
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What was to blame? - William's leadership
Preparation in Normandy? Papal banner? Events during the battle? Viking invasion?
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What was to blame? - bad luck
Dismissal of fyrd? Timing of both invasions? Exhaustion? Inferior army?
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


William's claim


He was a childhood friend of Edward. He had been allegedly promised the throne in 1051 and 1064. He had the backing of the Pope to invade.

Card 3


Hardrada's claim


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Edgar atheling's claim


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


The 1051 promise


Preview of the front of card 5
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These 27 flashcards are an excellent way to test understanding of the Norman Conquest. They allow you to check your knowledge of key dates as well as the reasons for William's victory.


Slide 19 (flipped) please remember that England didn't have knights, they had housecarls. They had the better starting position because they were on a hill, making it harder for William's cavalry to gather speed and strike. 

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