What Was The Norman Conquest?
The Norman Conquest was an invasion of England led by the French duke William of Normandy (c. 1028–1087), also known as William the Conqueror. In 1066, he amassed French troops and sailed across the English Channel to occupy southern England. William and his troops battled the army of English King Harold II (c. 1022–1066), who had recently repulsed an attack by Norwegians on the northern coast of England. The Normans under William and the Anglo-Saxons (another name for the English) under Harold met and fought at Hastings, near the entrance to the Strait of Dover. During the battle, Harold was killed so William claimed the throne of England. He was crowned King William I at Westminster Abbey on December 25, 1066, and ruled England for twenty-one years. During this time he killed many Anglo-Saxon nobles, replacing them with Norman nobles and instituting French as the language of the court. He ordered an inventory of his kingdom (known as the Domesday Book) for tax purposes and required that all landholders swear an oath of allegiance to him. When people in the north of England disputed his authority, William punished them severely. After his death a civil war between the Anglo-Saxons and Normans resulted in the intermingling of the two groups. Their interaction produced the English language, a combination of the German tongue spoken by the Anglo-Saxons and the French dialect spoken by the Normans. William's descendants (however distant) have ruled England ever since his conquest of the country.
Further Information: Halsall, Paul, ed. "Gerald of Wales." Internet Medieval Sourcebook. [Online] Available http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sources/geraldwales1.html, October 25, 2000; Lace, William. The Battle of Hastings. San Diego: Lucent, 1996; Van Houts, Elizabeth. "The Trauma of 1066." History Today. October, 1996, pp. 9–15.