22 1066 and Goodbye to all That

1066 was a year that changed a lot of things – though not as much as you might think. 3 experienced war leaders fought for control of England – and we all know who won, so no need to worry about plot spoilers. The History of England podcast takes us up the coronation of William at Westminster Abbey, Christmas day 1066

22 1066 and Goodbye to all That

Why William, Harold and Harold claimed the throne

Harold Godwinsson claimed the throne by an ancient elective principle. He was nominated by Edward the Confessor, and appointed king by the Witan. Lets hear it for the poor of the people! William the Bastard claimed the throne by hereditary right through his Great Aunt Emma of Normandy. Plus he said that Harold had sworn an oath to help his claim. Harold Hadradaa said that Magnus I of Norway and Harthacnut has agreed that whoever died last should get England, back in 1040. But when Harthacnur died first, Edward the Confessor took the throne instead.

What happened

I'm only going to do a simple coverage on the blog – There are literally a billion websites (well quite a few anyway) that will tell you all you want to know, if you want more information or want to read about it . The BBC's is comprehensive and straightforward – cleck here if you want to look at it. You can listen to Stanley Holloway's version of events at Hastings as well, on YouTube here. Or find out more about Fulford at a very dedicated website here.

So the main events . . .

1066 locations

  • 6th January: Harold is hastily crowned King in Westminster Abbey
  • Spring and summer: Harold gets an army and Navy together and waits for the axe to fall. Nothing happens. William is in Normandy, arguing with his barons, persuading the Pope to help out, building ships and then, once he's done all that waiting for the wind to change so that he can sail over.
  • 8th September: Harold has to disband his army and navy – no more food, everyone needs to go back to the fields. The very same day, Hadrada and Tostig land in Northumbria. Ach, bummer.
  • 12th September: William sails – but gets pushed back into port
  • 20th September: the Battle of Fulford: Earls Edwin and Morcar do their best, but it's not good enough, and they are defeated by Hadrada.
  • ?21st – 25th: Harold absolutely canes it up to the north, about 185 miles in 4 days. The Vikings are luxuriating in their victory, are caught unawares and comprehensively defeated at the Battle of Stamfordbridge. Yay.
  • 28th September: William lands at Pevensey and starts to knock up a castle. Harold absolutely charges down to London with his men, but then, sensibly, waits for a week in London getting himself together, orders the local Fryds to assemble. Then it's off to the seaside.
  • 14th October: The Battle of Hasting. Boo. They think it's all over…

Battle of Hastings

  • Hastings view from Harold's position


  • October: The Witan proclaim Edgar the Atheling king.
  • November: William marches to Wallingford, buring and destroying as he goes. Archbishop Stigand gives in and submits.
  • December: Edgar and the Anglo Saxon Thegns submit to William the Bastard at Berkhampstead, and now we must start to call him William the Conqueror. William is crowned William Ist on Christmas Day.  … it is now.  

The companions of William the Conqueror

 There are 15 people who we are pretty sure were with William on his great adventure. Some of them gained massive rewards from their support. The nams we know are:

  • Robert de Beaumont
  • Eustace, Count of Boulogne
  • William, 3rd Count of Évreux
  • Geoffrey of Mortagne
  • William FitzOsbern
  • Aimeri, Viscount of Thouars
  • Walter Giffard, Lord of Longueville
  • Hugh de Montfort, Lord of Montfort-sur-Risle
  • Ralph de Tosny
  • Hugh de Montfort
  • William de Warenne
  • William Malet
  • Odo, Bishop of Bayeux
  • Turstin FitzRolf
  • Engnulf de Laidgle

10 thoughts on “22 1066 and Goodbye to all That

  1. Hi David,
    What a marvellous site. I wish I’d discovered it before I wrote my historical novels about Edgar Atheling. It would have saved me months of research.
    I’d love to link your site to my blog if that’s OK with you.
    Martin Lake

  2. Hi Martin – thanks very much, nice of you to say so !
    Superb idea doing a novel about Edgar – what a fascinating life. What’s the title?
    I have a plan to do a set of brief biographies on the blog about lesser known figures I’ve liked – Edgar, Wulfstan, Wulfstan, Ranulph Flambard . . .but never seem to have enough time. So if you’d like to contribute one I’d happily put it up on the site and link it to your blog. And yes, sure do go ahead and link !

  3. David,
    Can I point you to The Chap magazine and it’s occassional series ‘War D’Oeuvre’, an amusing retelling of key battles of UK history using the dinner service. It’s Battle of Hastings re-enactment includes the following line:

  4. David,
    I’ve just started listening to your podcast and I’ve reached 1066. Like you I am a bit sad to be leaving behind those weird Anglo-Saxons but at least I will be able to spell the Norman names!
    Anyway the reason I am posting is that your reference to an untamed forest in Sussex that the Norman army had to be wary of caught my imagination. What was the name of this place? It sounded like ‘wheer’ to me but I could’nt quite catch it. Could you let me know the name and point me in the direction of any good resources you might know?
    Thanks for all the hardwork on the podcast. I look forward to one day getting up to date with it!

  5. David – When I discovered your podcast a few weeks ago, I thought that I would zip through the Anglo Saxon period until I got to 1066, which is basically the beginning of English history if you went to school in America. But I truly enjoyed your telling of the Anglo Saxon period, mostly due to your enthusiasm and love of the subject. So I will now anxiously await the story of Matilda and Stephen, which was my entry point into English history. Cheers!

  6. Listened to your redone episodes on the Anglo-Saxons and then picked back up with the original podcast when they were done. I am really enjoying them. Kudos to you for striking the right balance! All the battles and politics are usually so drearily dull to get through. But your lively delivery makes it all better.

    I walked Hastings field some years ago and was also impressed at Harold’s strategic choices. That hill would have been brutally difficult to run heavily mounted horses up, and would have really helped the English archers, if they had had more of them. (Alas.) My comment is years too late, but— I think the abbey was also part of William’s apology to the pope, as William had continued to press a battle that killed a horrendous number of men on both side, and gotten himself on the outs with the pope for going over the top on carnage. This is not my time period though (I am more 14th and 15th century– and more literature than history)— so I may be simply repeating the placcards from the museum.

    I am including my website for no reason other than you have a spot for it. It really only exists to help me get a job, but has (under the About tab) a blog of my trip to England in 2013 the summer after they had dug up Richard III. My biggest revelation was that– If the president of the Richard III Society ever turns up murdered, I am fairly sure it will be the curator of the museum at Bosworth Field. So so many of the exhibits had to be updated when they found the real battlefield and Richard’s body.

    1. Hi Cindy…and I tell you what, now I know I’ll keep a close eye on that curator! Hastings was the most remarkably close run thing was it not? So many ifs and buts, so many possibilities and English history would have been so different! And thanks for your kind words…though by the sound of things you haven’t got to Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt yet. Tell me after that if I manage not to make the battles dreary and dull…I’m afraid I got a bit carried away…

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