Hastings Battle

History demonstrates that England was a difficult nation to subjugate. Although Harold, the king at the time, had routed the Norwegians, he was unaware of the danger posed by William's invasion of Normandy. Let's examine William's short biography. In the year 1027, William was born to the Duke of Normandy. William's father died when he was just seven years old, leaving him to fend for himself because he had to battle to keep his seat, which the other lords of the land desired. He rapidly mastered the art of controlling his rivals, eventually developing into a ruthless man. (Norgate, 15). In the 1030s when England was governed by Danish kings, William met and assisted a man called Edward. In the year 1042 Edward returned to England was anointed king. To show his gratitude to William, he promised the he will make him his successor. To strengthen this hope, when Harold, a powerful lord of England paid the Normandy a visit, he promised William that he will se to it that he would be crowned king according to Edwards promise (Oleson 222).

However, in the beginning of the year 1066 when King Edward died, the lords of the kingdom chose to anoint Harold king instead of William. For this reason William felt that he had been betrayed and soon crafted a plan to overthrow Harold. He coordinated with his men and a caravan of ships was made ready for war (Oleson 222). But before they departed, the wind was blowing against them and they had to postpone their departure. Meanwhile, King Harold, having expected William to attack made his army ready. But because of the delay, the army dispersed and probably Harold thought that William could have changed his mind on attacking him (Norgate 28).

By September, when the wind had subsided, William and his men set sail albeit being anxious about a possible counter attack. They arrived at the coast without any hitch and stayed close to the sea after carrying out a raid on the residents of the coast, stealing food and other provisions. On October, Harold was informed that William and his men were preparing to attack. William spent that day, the 13th October 1066 to put on their armor knowing very well that the following day there would be war. The following day, the battle stared early and by the end of the day the Saxon army was defeated and the victims of war’s bodies lay strewn all over. King Harold was among the dead and his body was identified by one of his concubines. To thank god for giving him victory, William built a church at the location where Harold han erected his flag (Norgate 32).

During the war, in preparation for the battle William had put together fleet of about 600 ships and over 7000 men of war. The soldiers who William usually assembled were recruits from France and Germany. The soldiers were usually second born and third born who were promised rewards by William if they joined him by coming with their own horses, armor and weapons to join him. These soldiers were those who were not eligible for any inheritance under the laws of primogeniture.

One reason which facilitated William’s victory was the fact that he and his men were well prepared. They had collected enough food and were generally in the mood for war. On the other hand, Harold’s men had just come from another battle, exhausted and in low spirit. some of his soldiers had died, others fatally wounded and the rest tired after undertaking a long march to confront William. Harold seemed to have made wrong course of action since after waiting for William, who did not come, he decided to go fighting the Hardrata giving William and his men an unopposed entry. It can also be said that William’s luck had run out for he had to contend with successive wars and also was lest tactical than William (Barlow 39)

Impacts of the battle on England

Elite Replacement

The invasion of the Normans led to the diminishing of the former English and the loss of authority of the English people upon the church. Those English people who owned land were dispossessed of their land and property by William. The land was later given to his followers loyal to him. Due to this fact it is estimated that over 5% of the land which was in the south of Tees was allocated to the Englishmen (Puryear, 711). Hence this was regarded as a complete elimination of landholding in the southern parts of the England. The indigenous people were also expelled from high governmental offices hence their positions were given to the Norman. This led to the Englishmen to be appointed to lower tasks such as sheriffs. The church was not left behind in the discrimination. The senior office holders in the church were expelled from the church people, and their position was given to foreigners. Positions such as Bishops were not held by the English men and also English abbots became very uncommon (Hollister 43)

English Emigration

Due to the Norman Conquest, many people including the group of nobles fled the country to far countries such as Scotland Ireland and Scandinavia. It's known that King Harold `s family sought refuge in Ireland. While in Ireland King Harold set a base for the invasion of England, therefore, the Anglo-Saxons sought help from Byzantine Empire who were in need of mercenaries. Some of those who fled England sought refuge in Byzantine frontier regions on the black sea coast(Hollister 48). The English people, who remained in England, intermarried with the Normans. The marriages were usually contracted marriages. Within a century the marriages between the Normans and the native English became very common (Finn 55)

Language and Culture

Hollister noted that the cultural habits of many people changed because of the foreign influence due to the Norman conquest of 1066 hence this greatly changed the society. The English language suffered due to the assimilation of new tongues. The language which was adopted was French and Latin which were widely used in the government and in the church. The English language was widely regarded as uncivilized and a language of the uneducated. It estimated that about 1000 Normans settled in England and therefore when they mixed with the Native English whose estimate was about one million people; they adopted the language of the Normans. Later the English language was assimilated by the Normans language. Therefore, the Norman changed the entire history of the English language (49). The drinking habits changed hence the norms came with different drinking habits. On the same note the, most enduring cultural change was the adoption of the French name. In this perspective the traditional Anglo-Saxon names were completely eliminated. These changes left a very big scar in England and therefore the people of England swore never to be conquered again (Douglas 23)


After the Norman Conquest in 1066 new castles were built in England. The castle of England was built by the Normans. These castles became the symbols of the Normans invasion in England. The dominance of the castles set a base of control in the Normans invasion hence the reign of William was thus established. It is estimated that William built 81 castles which made him very superior in his reign. Due to this fact, the landscape of England was altered hence till date many castles can still be seen. Also the churches in England were remolded. The aim of the Normans was to create impressive monumental structures. It is a fact that William built the finest Tower of London. This tower specifically was responsible for defending his supply ships which usually sailed in the Thames River. The Englishmen provide labor since the Normans provide the imported Normandy stone (Douglas, 141)

Governmental Systems and Socio Economic Impact

Before the arrival of the Normans, the Anglo-Saxons governmental system was largely secure. For easier administration, the whole country was divided into small subsections units called shires in that the loyal court was the center of government. The positions of Englishmen such sheriffs were the heads of the shires. The strength of the English monarchy depended o the wealth of the kingdom in that the tax levied on land, or the field helped greatly in the wealth. The English coinage was very popular because the currency of the use of coins was very superior and it was also a royal monopoly. The many effects also issued writs which were instructions given to the officials (Barlow 223) The medieval government of England was handed over to the Normans who kept the framework of the government but made changes to this form of governance. The reign of William showed so many Normans as governmental officials. Important government documents were also translated from old English to Latin. Due to this scenario, there was the introduction of foreign laws which lead to the large sections of England as royal forests. This laws prohibited people from using the resources of the forest. The native Englishmen depended on the forest for extracting food from hunting and wood for their use. The limitation led to the expansion of poverty among the people. Anyone who dared break the rule was subjected to severe punishment (Brown, 62).

The Norman greatly enjoyed the trial by battle, a situation whereby the accused and the accuser would fight. When England was defeated, William ordered a survey to be carried out. This was a form of census which was carried out in homes. Its aim was to check the value of homes and what they owned. This data was mainly stored in a book called Doomsday book which was produced within a span of one year. This administrative tool was used by the Normans in recording data such as the taxation. The tax was usually use to fund William`s warfare. The book also helped the Normans integrate the territories which they conquered. This book is still used till date as a living proof of the evidence of what occurred in William`s reign

The Normans were loyal to their lord therefore they created a system of a land tenure. The Anglo-Saxons previously owed an amount of land based on the regularized units of land holdings. But when the Normans arrived they owned service based on what they achieved and the work they did to the king (Hollister 122).

Most monarchs are known to the high taxes they induce to people. William also levied very high Taxes to the people of England during his reign in England and this made living so unbearable to the native English men Also the formation of a court known as lords or honoural was formed. This court was held by the lord for their tenants and this is because of the embracement of the feudal system. Also, previously the links between England territories was so strong but due to the invasion of the Normans it was weakened (Puryear 711).

For forces to protect themselves against attacks, they embraced the system of feudalism, in that it was seen as a form of decentralization. This is because William came into power. The Anglo-Saxon rule had a certain order of rule such as Kings, Earls, Theigns , Ceorls, and slaves. But due to the invasion of the Normans the system changed to kings, the nobles, knights and serfs. This was a tremendous effect to the people because some o the high ranking titles of the Anglo-Saxons were stripped. This shows that William’s entry saw the fall of the Anglo-Saxon rule. The English were confiscated of their land which was given to his royal Normans. Taking a closer look at the Anglo-Saxon reign we see that different people were promoted or demoted but in the Normans rule this concept was not considered because the king was the only person who made important decisions. These decisions were merely biased since he only trusted his royal followers thus he promoted them to occupy commanding positions (

Land and wealth

When William suggested to his men that he intended to overthrow King Harold, they took his idea coldly. But after persuading them and promising them to give them land, they accepted reluctantly. True to his word, after winning, the battle William apportioned some land to some of his men. It is estimated that William expanded the territory of his predecessor twofold. He now controlled over 20% of the whole of England thus increasing the fortunes of England. About 23% of the land was controlled by the Catholic Church while the rest belonged to the aristocracy. Is estimated that over 40% of the land fell into the hands of a few powerful men; twelve men from the church and ten laymen. It is interesting to note that none of these men was a native of the land. This shows how the old kingdom had fallen and changed over to completely new people. The ruling class of England had been replaced (Hollister 122).

Religion was greatly altered in that William wanted to introduce a feudal system in the whole of England. By doing so he used manipulation by using influential posts so as to convey his regime. In England the church held essential roles. The church was in contact with so many people hence a lot of charity funds were collected. The filtering of Anglo–Saxon aristocracy became extinct because the Norman took over the control of the church hence the medieval system which supported the activities of the English church collapsed. To add to that the Christian church was converted to Roman Catholic. Due to this there was a total disconnection o f the England church from Rome. And also the influence of pope was not included (Hollister 56). William made sure that he was in full control of the elections and that his royal presence was recognized in the church councils. He got rid of bishops such as Stigand who was against him and filled the position with Ian Francas as Archbishop of Canterbury. He greatly contributed to the English church. William also made the rules of the church so strict (Douglas 63).

Researchers have noted that despite the initial damage caused after the battle, the economy of England actually grew. This is due to the fact during immigration, new business and merchants are introduced who in turn busts business. Although the Normans were not migrants, soon after their vision there was seen an increase in the business volume. The financial systems and trade policies were some of the benefits observed. William brought the Jews who developed credit links between the French and English. Despite the fact that England was predominantly Christian, the Jews were not deterred and soon became the chief lenders in the country. However, the English people were a violent lot and despite the positive impacts brought about by the Jews, they were chased away by the 14th century (Douglas 57).

In the years following 1066, there arose many modern building and palaces. During the 12th century, new projects were set up whose peak was in the year 1280. The new changes assisted in the growth of the economy of England. Researchers have estimated that the sum total wealth of England had increased steadily since 1066, contrary to a popular belief (Finn 136). On average the gross domestic product (GDP) increased over twice what it was in the pre-inversion period. Production of agricultural and industrial goods increased. To boost the quest for improved infrastructure, heavier taxes were imposed to the people making them to work harder.

There was expansion of economic market since people had more money to spend. One effect of the commercialization of the economy was the setting free of slaves and the exportation of more slaves was halted. By the end of the twelfth century, the slave trade was almost closed. Instead of relying on slaves for labor, there was specialization and many people became self-employed while others worked for pay. During this period, there was also the increase in the urban population, from about 10% in 1080 to over 20% by the turn of the 14th century (Kayne 396).

After his conquest William demanded that his subjects, the people of England take oaths of allegiance to him. He decreed that

“Every freeman shall affirm by oath and compact that he will be loyal to King William both within and without England, that he will preserve with him his lands and honor with all fidelity and defend him against all his enemies.” (Douglas399 )

Although he was firmly placed on the throne, the people of England did not readily accept him as their ruler. In Exeter, in 1061 a fierce counter attacked was executed and in retaliation, Harold and his sons were defeated. They went to exile in Ireland fro where they performed other raids on the south-west England.

Also r, the people of the north did not settle after the inversion. In Northmbria for instance, the people did not regard themselves as English or French in the least. They considered themselves as Scandinavian or Scottish. For this reason the carried out a series of clashes as soon as William took over. However, Normans being barbaric, William dealt with them ruthlessly and many of them perished. Due to this skirmishes, the people of the south were estimated to be over three times richer than those of the north in the year 1086. Yorkshire was most affected by the revolts and due to this the total wealth dropped by over 60%. In turn the population of the northern part dropped by half and by 1086, no home had wealth greater than the country’s average. The drop of wealth was further aggravated by the fact that the climate in the north was harsher and it is relatively far away from the major markets. This perhaps why even today there is inequality in wealthy distribution at the north of the modern Europe.

Research has also indicated that the privileges enjoyed by the associated of William trickled down to the present. It is observed that the number of university students who bear Norman surnames are majority (Hollister 49).


The Norman Conquest on England in 1066 sow England undergo a new dawn. The effects of the conquest affect all spheres of life including social, cultural and economic. England was under the rule of foreigners who rules with strong hands. The land of the English people now belonged to the few who were in power. Nevertheless, the invasion cane with several benefits including advancements in trade, learning of new languages like Latin and French and the wealth of the country increased. Up to date the effects of the inversion are imminent.


Works cited

Barlow, Frank. William I and the Norman conquest. English Universities Press, 1965.

Brown, R. Allen. The Normans and the Norman Conquest. Ne\11 York:Thomas Y. Crmvell Company, Inc., 1968Norgate, Kate. "The Battle of Hastings." English Historical Review (1894): 1-76.

Douglas; David c., gen. ed. English Historical Documents.~ Vol. II. New York: Oxford University Press, 1953.

Finn, R. Welldon. The Norman Conquest and Its Effects on the Economy, 1066-86. United

States: Archon Books, 1971.

Kayne, G. E. The Complete Peerage. Vols. I, X. London: The Saint Catherine Press, Ltd., 1910.

Hollister, C. w., ed. The Impact of the Norman Conquest. New York: John Willy and Sons, Inc., 1969.

Oleson, Tryggvi J. "Edward the Confessor's Promise of the Throne to Duke William of Normandy." The English Historical Review 72.283 (1957): 221-228.

Puryear, Cynthia L., "The effects of the Norman Conquest on Anglo-Saxon Aristocracy" (1976). Honors Theses. Paper 711.

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