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Essay On William The Conqueror

William I became known as William the Conqueror through his will and determination. William gained power through his father and soon he climbed high enough to conquer England and become its new king.

William was born in 1028 at Falaise Castle. He was the son of Robert the Duke of Normandy and Herleve, the daughter of a tanner in Falaise. Robert was said to have caught sight of Herleve while she was washing her linens in the castle moat.

William’s father went on a pilgrimage in 1034 to release his sins. While returning home from his journey, he died suddenly. Having no other heir, William took his place as Duke of Normandy.

William had a hard time taking control. People constantly rebelled during his rule, and he would have to learn quickly how to deal with them. William's guardians were murdered in succession. William became a ruthless and sometimes cruel ruler because of his constant struggles for power.

In 1047 William began to restore order and crush the rebels who stood in his way. Some rebels insulted his birth by hanging “hides for the tanner” over the walls. William took his revenge by having their feet and hands amputated. Slowly the rebels decreased and people started to realize that William was their ruler.

William was described as tall and heavy. William was a strong leader and very courageous. He was inspirational to his followers, but could also be strict and punishing. “He

was of just stature, ordinary corpulence, fierce countenance; his forehead was bare of hair; of such great strength of arm that it was often a matter of surprise, that no one was able to draw his bow, which himself could bend when his horse was in full gallop; he was majestic whether sitting or standing, although the protuberance of his belly deformed his royal person; of excellent health so that he was never confined with any dangerous disorder, except at the last; so given to the pleasures of the chase, that as I have before said, ejecting the inhabitants, he let a space of many miles grow desolate that, when at liberty from other avocations, he might there pursue his pleasures. His anxiety for money is the only thing on which he can deservedly be blamed. This he sought all opportunities of scraping together, he cared not how; he would say and do some things and indeed almost anything, unbecoming to such great majesty, where the hope of money allured him. I have here no excuse whatever to offer, unless it be, as one has said, that of necessity he must fear many, whom many fear.”

William married Matilda in 1049, a descendant of the old Saxon House of Wessex. They were an odd site he being 5 foot 10 and she just over four feet tall. However they proved to be a good match.

In 1051 William visited his cousin Edward the Confessor. During his visit, Edward was said to have told William he would become the King of England if he would die without issue. The real heir to England was to young at the time and had spend much of his life in Hungary. William was in a tough spot, for other’s wanted the throne of England also. One person wanting the throne being Harold, the son of the Earl of Wessex.

Harold had been shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy, where he found himself the guest of Duke William. William required Harold to swear an oath to understand that he would become king after Edward’s death. Harold finally consented and swore the oath on holy relics, sealing Williams spot as King of England.

Edward the Confessor died in January, 1066. He was said to have nominated Harold as his successor. Harold was accepted as king by the council of elders, who normally elected the new kings.

After hearing this news William was outraged. He began to build an army to take by force what he considered to be his kingdom by right. Because of Harolds oath on holy relics the Pope even supported William in his invasion of England. After Harold was crowned, an ominous star was seen in the skies, this has now been identified as Halley's comet, many in that superstitious age saw it as an omen of God's wrath on King Harold and his followers.

Harold called up the Saxon militia of freemen, in preparation for William's imminent landing, while the William assembled his fleet and waited for good weather and winds to sail. In the middle of September, England was invaded by Harold Hardrada, King of Norway. He was accompanied by Tostig, Earl of Northumbria, Harold's unruly and discontented brother, who had earlier been banished and his earldom confiscated

Harold went north to meet the invaders at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, where he won a victory over the Viking army. The winds William had been waiting for turned favorable and he set sail with his massive army. News of his landing at Pevensey was told to Harold, who responded by hurrying south to meet him, giving his exhausted army no rest. If Harold had rested and reorganized his army, the outcome of the battle and English history could have been very different.

On the 14th of October, the Saxon and Norman forces clashed in the Battle of Hastings. Harold took up a defensive position on Senlac Ridge. The Norman army was forced to attack uphill, placing them at a disadvantage.

A rumor arose in the Norman ranks that William was dead, causing panic. Many of the Saxon fyrdd pursued the fleeing Normans down the hill. William raised his armies morale by loudly announcing that he was still alive. The Normans with new strength fought hard against the Saxons, Harold's brothers Gyrth and Leofwine were both slain on the battlefield.

The battle continued for most of the day, Harold and his Saxons fought with great determination for possession of their country. As dusk began to fall over Hastings, William ordered his archers to fire into the air. There was said to have been an arrow that landed into Harold’s eye, blinding him. Whether this was true or not, Harold was mortally wounded.

The Saxon army began to flee the field. The houscarls, Harold's trained professional militia, bravely defended his body until they fell and Harold’s body was mutilated by the Normans.

Edith Swan-neck, Harold’s lover, came to William pleading for Harold’s body and offering him its weight in gold in exchange, but William coldly refused her request, probably because of the mutilation the body had suffered. He had Harold buried in a secret location.

William was crowned King of England at Edward the Confessor's foundation of Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066. He could now be called by the name of William the Conqueror.

On the whole the south of England submitted to Norman rule, whereas in the north resistance was more prolonged. William wrought down a reign


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The Norman Conquest and
Dynasty of William the Conqueror

The Norman Conquest of Anglo-Saxon England (1066)

Duke William of Normandy’s claim on England’s crown was based, in part, on the fact that he was distantly related to Edward the Confessor, the Saxon King of England. However, his more legitimate claim also was based on an event that occurred in 1054 when Harold of Wessex was shipwrecked on the shore of Normandy. Harold was rescued, and then imprisoned by his host, Duke William of Normandy. To secure his release, Harold was required to swear an oath that, after sickly King Edward the Confessor died, Harold would support William’s claim for the crown of England. Harold did not intend to honor this pledge, but, to his…show more content…

Only three days later, on September 28, Duke William of Normandy, landed on the Channel Coast of East Sussex near Hastings. William’s miniscule invading army consisted of fewer than three thousand Norman knights. Harold hurried south from Northumbria with his battle fatigued Saxon troops. On October 14, 1066, a battle was joined at Hastings. It lasted the full day. At sundown, a count of the dead included Harold II of Wessex. With the Saxon leader slain, the much smaller band of Norman knights quickly defeated the homeland Saxon militia. Duke William and his Norman knights won the day, and, thereby, ended the Saxon period in English history. Harold’s common law wife, Aldgyth Swanneshals (Edith Swan-neck; life dates uncertain, with whom he had four sons and two daughters) was with him as an attendant and observer at the Battle of Hastings. She identified his body among the fallen, and testified that Harold was, indeed, dead. A stone memorial near Battle Abbey, Hastings, marks the place Harold is believed to have fallen. After the battle, Harold’s body was moved to Waltham Abbey, Essex, for burial. Harold of Wessex was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England. His line ran out, and made no contribution to later monarchies of England. His Queen Aldgyth (Edith) of Mercia had previously been married to Gruffydd ap Llyellyn, Prince of Wales. Aldgyth married Harold only a few months before the Battle of Hastings. Their only son, Harold, Jr. (there may have been

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