Norman Conquests (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: At issue: Rule of England. Result: Norman victory; William crowned king of England.
In 1051, Duke William (later William the Conqueror), a fierce warrior and harsh ruler of Normandy (France), visited his heirless cousin, Edward the Confessor, king of England, exacting a secret oral promise that William would become England’s next king. This pledge was strengthened in 1064 when Harold II Godwinson, earl of Wessex, became an unwilling guest of William after shipwrecking on the Normandy coast. To secure release, Harold swore an oath to support William’s claim to the English crown, even though Harold was Edward’s principal adviser and de facto ruler of England.
Before Edward died in January, 1066, however, he acknowledged Harold as the next king. Harold was duly elected by the Anglo-Saxon witan (Great Council) and accepted the crown in Westminster Abbey on January 6. When William received the news, he denounced Harold as an illegally elected usurper and began to prepare for an invasion to claim the crown he believed was rightfully his.
Although William’s barons initially opposed his planned invasion, the promise of rich rewards convinced them to participate. William requested—and received—support from neighboring dukes and the king of France, as well as the blessing of Pope Alexander II.
During the summer, William began...
(The entire section is 1245 words.)
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