9-1 History/Norman England

The Normans; Conquest and control edit

Who was Edward the Confessor? edit

Edward the Confessor

Edward the Confessor was the king of England between 1042 and 1066. He was the first English king after 25 years of Danish rule. His parents were King Ethelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy. He was married to Edith Godwin and died without any children.

His mother was Norman and he had spent a large proportion of his life in exile there, before he became England's king. He spoke Norman French and all his close advisors were Norman, even when he was the king of England.


1. Did Edward always live in England? If not, where else did he live?

2. What was Edward's wife called?

3. When did his reign start? What about its end?

4. Fill in the question marks; After ? years of ? rule, Edward was the first English king.

Now, don't peak;

1. No, he lived in Normandy for a while. 2. Edith Godwin 3. He reigned between 1042 and 1066. 4. After 25 years of Danish rule, Edward was the first English king.

Who were the claimants to the throne? edit

Harold Godwinson edit

Harold Godwinson

Harold Godwinson was the earl of Essex and Edward's brother-in-law. He may have been promised the throne after 1053. He controlled southern England and had been left with a lot of responsibility in ruling England. The witan, the group of nobles and churchmen who advised Anglo-Saxon kings, thought Harold should rule. Leofwine and Gyrth, Harold's brothers, ruled London and East Anglia.

William edit


William was the duke of Normandy and Edward's cousin. Edward , in 1051, and Harold Godwinson, in 1064, may have promised him the throne. However, Edward ma have been threatened to make the oath by William. He was keen to build an Empire.

Harald Hadrada edit

Harald Hadrada

A previous king of England, Magnus I, may have promised him the throne. He was a famous warrior and good commander. He had good control over his land.

Edgar Aethling edit

Edgar Aethling

Edgar was Edward's great-nephew and was the only surviving anglo-saxon prince. He had been invited back to England by Edward, from exile in Hungary. However, he was only a teenager.


So, you have read the previous sections? now for a quiz!

1.Harold Godwinson was what places earl?

2.Who promised Harald Hadrada the throne?

3.Who did the Witan elect?

4.William was a duke of which place?

5. Where was Edward in exile in?

6. Which contestant was a teenager?

Answers; 1-Essex 2-Magnus I 3-Harold Godwinson 4-Normandy 5-Hungary 6-Edgar Aethling

What happened during 1066? edit


King Harold edit

Harold was made king of England after the Witan elected him. He was crowned in Westminster Abbey on the same day Edward was buried. He married Edwin and Morcar's, two powerful earls in northern England, sister, Edith. This alliance with the two earls, meant that he could rely on them to stop a civil war and defend northern England, and therefore concentrate on building up an army to defend southern England against invasions from William.


1. Harold married which two earls' sister?

2. Who elected Harold to be king?

3. Where was he crowned and on the same day as who was buried.

Answers;1.Edwin and Morcar, the witan, at Westminster Abbey on the same day as Edward was buried

Fulford edit

The Battle of Fulford

Tostig Godwinson had been forced into exile after Northumbria refused to have him as their earl. He went to Scotland, Normandy and then Norway in an attempt to gain enough power to return to England. He joined with Harald Hadrada, who built an army of 10,000 people to support him. They sailed to England together. The resistance against them was led by Morcar and Edwin. Both sides met in Fulford, York, on 20 September 1066.

Edwin and Morcar deployed 5000 soldiers and had no reserves and Harald and Tostig deployed 6000 soldiers and had 4000 reserves. Harald's side won, after losing about 600 soldiers. 1000 of Edwin and Morcar's soldiers died. Harald captured York and set up camp 15 miles south, at Stamford Bridge. He waited for Edwin and Morcar to send him hostages and money.

This was a significant defeat for Harold. It forced him to march to northern England, away from where William would invade.


  • Replace the question marks Tostig ? was forced into exile in ?
  • How many soldiers did Edwin and Morcar have?
  • What did this battle force William to do?

Answers; Godwinson and Northumbria, 5000, march up to northern England

Stanford Bridge edit

Battle of Stamford Bridge

While waiting with his army for the expected invasion by William in the south, King Harold II heard of the Norwegian victory at the Battle of Fulford. King Harold recognised the significant and immediate risk that the Norwegian victory could be. King Harold assembled an army of 15,000 men, which included about 3,000 of his best soldiers, the housecarls, in just two days. In just four days, he marched with his soldiers up to north England, 185 miles away. Most of his army was on foot. Due to this great speed, Harold only knew of his approach when they were seen charging towards them.

The Battle of Stanford Bridge happened six days after the Battle of Fulford. King Harold deployed 15,000 troops, 5000 of whom died and Harald Hadrada deployed 9000 troops, 4000 of whom died. Harold won this battle. The Norwegians were not on guard and those that were near the bridge were all killed. The reinforcements were also defeated. In the end, only a few of the Norwegians escaped. Tostig Godwinson and Harald Hadrada died in this battle.

King Harold had won, but lost a third of his forces doing this. Just four days later, he was forced to lead his army on another exhausting march, to fight William near England's southern coast in the Battle of Hastings.


  • Who won this battle?
  • What fraction of his forces did Harold loose?
  • How many days was this battle from the Battle of Fulford?
  • Who lost more troops?
  • Who deployed more troops?

Answers;Harold, 1/3, 6, Harold, Harold

Hastings edit

William landed on 28th of September, a few months after preparing, in England, at Pevensey bay, with 9,000 men, in 700 transport ships. They built a motte and bailey castle. William's army used this castle as a base and raided nearby areas while they waited for Harold.

Harold had to march down from the north of England, where Stanford Bridge was, to Hastings, in the south. A third of his army had been killed at Stamford Bridge, and the rest was exhausted by the long march. He also had to abandon some of his soldiers on the way, since they could not keep up.Harold added to his forces with a group called the fyrd. Though these people were not fully trained soldiers, though they had to fight when called upon by the king. They meant Harold’s army had roughly 7,000 soldiers, though they were inferior to the soldiers who had been abandoned.

The modern Senlac Hill; the photo is from where the Normans would have stood and the abbey in the distance is where the English would have been.

Harold attempted to surprise William's army, like he had done at Stamford Bridge. However, William's scouts spotted them and warned William. Harold and his army chose go to a good defensive position. The small hill was later called, by the Normans, 'Senlac Hill' This means ‘blood-lake’ in French. They may have give n it this name since it sounded quite similar to the English name for the site, scen-leag. They may have also called it this because lots of people died there.

note the defensive shield wall on this map

Harold formed a shield wall on this hill. At 9am, William and his soldiers left the castle. The shield wall meant that, when William ordered the archers to fire, they were unable to do much damage. The shield wall also hindered his infantry attacking. William's cavalry also failed to break the shield wall. Some of William's men started to retreat, after they thought William had got killed. Then William rode to the front of them and raised his helmet, so they could see he was alive.

William’s cavalry tried to move the English away from their defensive position, in the late afternoon, by feigning a retreat. After several attempts, some of the rather inexperienced English infantry tried to attack the Norman Cavalry, abandoning the shield wall, since they the Normans had surrendered. The Norman cavalry then turned round. They killed the English who had followed them down the hill and more of Harold’s army followed and joined the battle. This meant that the Normans were able to finally break the shield wall.

title says HIC HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST (Here King Harold is slain)

At about 5pm, Harold died, supposedly by an arrow hitting his eye. He was fighting with his men on foot and his army lost all their organisation, when they heard of his death, and were killed, by the William's infantry and cavalry. Both of Harold’s brothers, Gyrth and Leofwine, died beside him. By evening, William was the obvious victor of this make or break battle.

Quick Quiz

  • Supposedly, what killed Harold?
  • Which other of Harold's relatives died?I
  • What kind of 'wall' did Harold build?
  • How did William break it?

Answers;an arrow in the eye, his two brothers, a shield wall, using the retreating trick

How did William I secure his power? edit

Harrying of the north edit

Revolts edit

1067 - Eadric the Wild and the start of armed resistance by the Anglo-Saxons

Some Norman earls, taking advantage of the confusion in 1067, extended their control into Shropshire and Herefordshire, on Wales' border. This area is called the Marcher lands. This expansion made some of the Anglo-Saxon thegna angry who had controlled the land, in particular Eadric. Under his leadership, Anglo-Saxon armies joined up with two Welsh princes, called Bleddyn and Rhiwallon, and attacked Hereford. They then disappeared into Wales.

William I's leadership and government edit

William II edit

Life under the Normans edit

Feudalism edit

William attempted to secure England by creating a new system of distributing land. The giving of and power land in return for money and work had existed previous to the Norman Conquest. However, William took land from the Anglo-Saxons, and created a whole new structure for distributing power, wealth and land.

In theory, the king owned absolutely everything and would give some land to the barons, who had to train knights and fight for the king. The knights were given some land by their lord. At the bottom were the villeins, who were allowed to work on the knights' and barons' land, in return for paying tax, giving some of their crops and paying fines if they broke the law.


1. List the four different ranks in feudalism, from top to lowest.

2. Did William take land from people? If so, who from?

3. Was this type of system completely new?

Answers;1=King, Baron, Knight, Villeins 2=He took land from the Anglo-Saxons 3=No

Distribution of land edit

The Domesday book edit

Economic and social changes edit

The Norman church and monasticism edit

The church edit

Monasticism edit

Study of the historic environment edit

This varies from year to year. You do not need to visit the sites.

For students taking exams in 2018: Durham Cathedral

For students taking exams in 2019: Pevensey Castle

For students taking exams in 2020: The Battle of Hastings

Practice edit

practice makes perfect

One can barely hope to remember the information perfectly unless one practices the skill somehow. There are lots of ways of doing this, and we have collated some useful tasks that you might find useful for revision. Try as many as you can.

Re-read the information and take the quick quizes; aim for 100%!

Part 1

  • Essay; Who do you think had the best claim? Why?
  • Essay; Who were the contestants to the throne? Why was there so much confusion?
  • Make some flash cards for each of the contestants to the throne.
  • Essay; Do you think Edgar would have been a good king if he was older?
  • Research; what exactly was the Witan? What power did they have? Who was in the Witan?
  • Draw a sketch of how the retreating trick was used and how the English ran after the Normans in the Battle of Hastings. Label each of the steps.
  • Essay; Was the Battle of Stanford Bridge a Pyrrhic victory?
  • Essay; Would the Battle of Hastings had been different if the Battle of Fulford had been lost by Harald Hadrada?
  • Essay; Why did England get a French king in 1066?
  • Debate;How important an effect did the new feudal system have?
  • Essay; Was the Harrying of the North a good thing?