Norman Conquest of England Summary,Timeline and Impact

Here you will know about Norman Conquest of England, it's timeline and impact.

Norman Conquest of England Summary,Timeline and Impact


    • Norman Conquest, (1066) Military conquest of England by William, duke of Normandy (later William I), mainly through his victory over Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. Edward the Confessor had designated William as his successor in 1051.

    Who were Normans?

    • The Normans were a people formed in the 9th and 10th Centuries from a mixture of the indigenous population east of Brittany and west of Flanders with Viking settlers. 
    • Despite having concepts like Christianity they developed their own culture which was distinct from both the Vikings and the French.  
    • The Witan was the council of royal advisors

    England before the conquest: between 43 AD and 410 AD 

    • England was under Roman rule. 
    • After the Roman empire collapsed Germanic people from across Europe immigrated to England, included Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians. 
    • Over this period the Celts were pushed westwards into Cornwall and Wales, where Celtic art and language survived. 
    • Up until the Norman invasion England was under Anglo-Saxon rule, with different Kings ruling different 'kingdoms' of England. 
    • Society had three levels: those who fought; those who prayed, and those who worked. 

    Timeline of 1066

    • Succession of Edward the Confessor: when Edward the Confessor died childless in January 1066, there were three potential successors: Harold Godwinsson, William Duke of Normandy and Harald Hardrada. . 
    • Invasions and the Battle of Hastings: Harold's nine month reign mainly included preparations for invasions from Normandy or Scandinavia, and the invasions themselves. 
    • William of Normandy planned a propaganda campaign to assert his legal right to the throne. 
    • The invasion didn't begin until September, then there was three battles in the space of six weeks. The Battle of Hastings began on the 14th October. 
    • The Normans secure England: despite winning the Battle of Hastings, William still had to secure power over the rest of England. William marched through Kent, Berkshire and Winchester during the Autumn and isolated London. 
    • Harold's remaining supporters surrendered to William, who was crowned on Christmas Day 1066. 
    • There was revolts in England between 1067-1071 which posed a threat to William's reign. 
    • William's son, King William II, continued this work, establishing and consolidating the borders with Wales and Scotland. 

    The Battle of Hastings (1066)

    • The Battle of Hastings started on the 14th October 1066. Norman warriors marched to the base of the hill and formed a battle line. 
    • Norman archers fired arrows into the air while the English raised their shields above their heads to protect them, the battle was joined. 
    • The English fought defensively while the Normans infantry and cavalry repeatedly charged their shield-wall. 
    • The battle was tense for most of the day until the Normans were able to push through the English line. 
    • King Harold fell as did the majority of the Saxon aristocracy. William was crowned King of England on Christmas Day. 

    Important People

    Edward the Confessor 

    • He was king of England from 1042 to 1066. 
    • Edward's death was to transform Medieval England and led to the reign of the Norman William the Conqueror. 
    • He was deeply religious and spent the first part of his life in Normandy, moving to England in 1040. 
    • When he died in 1066 he did not have any children to succeed him and the fight for who should succeed him led to the Norman invasion of October 1066 and the Battle of Hastings. 

    Harold Godwinsson 

    • He was a leading contender for the throne after Edward died. 
    • He was the second most powerful man in England and an advisor to Edward, and was also his brother-in-law. 
    • His relationship to Edward and his esteem among his peers made him a logical successor to the throne. 
    • This was strengthened when Edward apparently said "into Harold's hands I commit my Kingdom". 
    • The Witan unanimously selected Harold as King.  

    William Duke of Normandy 

    • He also held claim to the throne, which was justified through his blood relationship with Edward, as they were distant cousins. 
    • William also claimed that Edward had named him as the next King of England, a message which had been carried to him by Harold himself. 
    • He invaded England and killed Harold and his supporters in the Battle of Hastings. 
    • After this he became known as William the Conqueror. 

    Harald Hardrada 

    • He was the last possibility as the next King as his justification was weaker than the others. 
    • It was based on a promise between Magnus, Hardrada's nephew and Harthacut, a Danish ruler of England, that as neither had an heir their Kingdom's were promised to each other. 
    • However Magnus didn't claim the throne when Harthacut died and it was taken by Edward. 
    • Hardrada invaded in 1066 and tried to take over York. 
    • He was unsuccessful however and died soon after the arrival of Harold's men. 

    Edgar the Aethling 

    • He was the last royal male member of the royal house of Cerdic of Wessex. 
    • He was proclaimed King of England but never crowned in 1066. 
    • He held the strongest claim to the throne as he was Edward's great-nephew. 

    The Bayeux Tapestry

    • The Bayeux Tapestry describes the Norman invasion of England and the events that led up to it. 
    • It was commissioned by Bishop Odo, bishop of Bayeux and the half- brother of William the Conqueror. 
    • The Tapestry contains hundreds of images divided into scenes each describing a particular event. 
    • It would have been displayed in a church for the public to view. 
    • It focuses on the story of William, making no mention of Hardrada of Norway nor of Harold's victory at Stamford Bridge. 

    The Impact of the Norman Conquest

    Social Hierarchy 

    • It changed a lot under Norman rule, and primarily came from the introduction of feudalism. 
    • This saw the nobility and gentry given plots of land and people that they were responsible for. 
    • In return for somewhere to live amongst other things, citizens would work on the land and fight in battles, and it was the same principal for the gentry in relation to the King. 
    • It also so a more centralised form of government being introduced, with strong administration delegating and communicating laws and policies outwards across the country. 


    • It changed dramatically during the Norman settlement. 
    • Castles were built in major towns were a Norman nobleman would then reside. 
    • Despite castles becoming synonymous with medieval England, there were none in existence prior to 1066. 
    • By 1087 more than 80 castles had been built and began a trend that lasted for hundreds of years to come. 
    • They also transformed the style of churches and cathedrals. 
    • The Normans brought new building styles to Britain transforming and modernising architecture across the country that would last until the modern day.

    Language and Culture 

    • It also changed a lot, with the changing of languages from Old English to Latin, and it wasn't until the 14th century that (Middle) English became popular again. 
    • There was also a political shift away from Scandinavia and the Viking conquerors towards the Continent, relationships changing continually with France. 
    • Mead halls were replaced by wine drinking, something that became a sign of aristocracy. 

    Teaching and Lesson Ideas

    • On a map split England up into the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and highlight on the map key geographic areas (Hastings, London etc...)
    • Create a comic strip or modern day version of the Bayeux Tapestry documenting the events of the Battle of Hasting and/or Norman Conquest
    • Look at the Bayeux Tapestry as a piece of evidence, and its historical reliability, ask students to compare to other sources (written or images, primary and secondary) to assess its significance and determine what makes a 'reliable' source. 
    • Split students into groups to research and create a campaign for William the Conqueror, Harold Godwinsson and Harald Hardrada to become King, either present information as a balloon debate or presentation. 
    • Using the map from the beginning of the topic, plot the route and key places in the battles of the Norman Conquest
    • Design a poster advertising William's coronation, ask students to think about the Conquest and what positive things William can bring to England as King.

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