On September 27, 1066, the Norman Conquest of England began with the Battle of Stamford Bridge. This battle occurred between the forces of Harold Godwinson, the Anglo-Saxon king of England, and an invading army led by Harald Hardrada, the king of Norway.
The battle was a decisive victory for Harold Godwinson, but the celebrations were short-lived. Just a few days later, William, Duke of Normandy, landed his army on the southern coast of England. William was a distant cousin of the English king, and he claimed that he had been promised the throne by King Edward the Confessor, the previous ruler of England who had died earlier that year.
Harold Godwinson quickly marched his army south to meet William’s forces, and the two armies met at the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066. The battle was long and bloody, but in the end, William emerged victorious. Harold Godwinson was killed in the battle, and William was crowned King of England on Christmas Day that same year.
The Norman Conquest was a turning point in English history. It marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule and the beginning of Norman rule. The Normans brought with them a new language, a new culture, and a new system of government. They also introduced new architectural styles, such as the Romanesque and Gothic styles, which can still be seen in many of England’s cathedrals and castles.
William the Conqueror also instituted a number of important legal reforms. He commissioned a new survey of England’s land, which became known as the Domesday Book. This survey provided a detailed record of who owned what land in England and was used to establish the basis of a new feudal system.
The Norman Conquest was not without its challenges, however. The English nobility resented the new Norman rulers, and there were several rebellions in the years that followed. William’s own son, Robert, rebelled against him in 1077, and there were several other uprisings in the years that followed.
Despite these challenges, the Norman Conquest had a lasting impact on England. It introduced a new language and culture and paved the way for the development of the English legal system. It also profoundly influenced the development of English literature, as many of the great works of the Middle Ages were written in Norman French.