The initial military conquest was quick and brutal. By 1070 most of the Anglo-Saxon nobles were dead or had been deprived of their land, and a Norman aristocracy was superimposed on the English. Norman French was spoken at the court and had a great impact on the English language.

The Norman Conquest
and the Battle of Hastings


William I, King of England or William the Conqueror, 1027?-1087 (r.1066-1087), was the illegitimate son of Robert I, duke of Normandy, and succeeded to the dukedom in 1035. While visiting (1051) England, he was probably named by his cousin EDWARD THE CONFESSOR as successor to the throne, and in 1064 he extracted a promise of support from HAROLD, then earl of WESSEX.

In 1066, hearing that Harold had been crowned king of England, William raised an army and crossed the Channel. He defeated and slew Harold in the first and most decisive battle near HASTINGS and was crowned king.

William immediately built castles and harshly put down the rebellions that broke out; by 1072 the military part of the NORMAN CONQUEST was virtually complete. He substituted foreign prelates for many English bishops, and land titles were redistributed on a feudal basis to his Norman followers. After 1075 he dealt frequently with continental quarrels. William ordered a survey (1085-86) of England, the results of which were compiled as the DOOMSDAY BOOK. He was one of the greatest English monarchs and a pivotal figure in European history.

His son Robert II succeeded him in Normandy, while another son, William II or William Rufus, d. 1100 (r.1087-1100), succeeded him in England.

William II had utter contempt for the English church and extorted large sums of money from it. He occupied Normandy when Robert II left on a crusade, and gained control (1097) of the Scottish throne. He was killed while hunting, and his death may not have been an accident.

Related Documents:
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Part V, A.D. 1066
Battle of Hastings
Laws of William the Conqueror
William the Conqueror
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