William the Conqueror was the first Norman monarch of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. A descendant of Rollo, he became Duke of Normandy from 1035 onward. He had a struggle to secure his seat as the Duke of Normandy, but by 1060 it was secure.
In October 1066, following the death of Edward the Confessor, William invaded England, leading an army of Normans to victory over the Anglo-Saxon forces of Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings. He then suppressed subsequent English revolts in what has become known as the Norman Conquest.
Here are 5 of our top documentaries about William the Conqueror and the Norman Conquest’s impact.
1066 – one of the most famous years in English history. In a succession crisis like no other, three warlords separated by hundreds of miles and savage seas vied for control of the English throne in a series of bloody battles.
From Harald Hardrada’s crowning victory at Fulford to the renowned Battle of Hastings, Dan Snow travels across England to visit the places where history was made. With the help of experts, including Marc Morris, Emily Ward and Michael Lewis, he discovers the story behind the battles and the tales from inside the walls of power. This is the story of 1066.
If you went to school in the UK, chances are you spent hours of class time learning about 1066. Whether they’re fond memories or times you’d rather forget, revisit the Norman Conquest with us now. Enjoy an entertaining lesson, featuring exciting reconstructions, with Martyn Whittock, the teacher you’ll wish you’d had. You there at the back – stop talking!
One of the world’s most famous and well-preserved pieces of medieval embroidery, the 70-metre-wide Bayeux Tapestry depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, culminating in the Battle of Hastings.
To this day, the tapestry remains one of the most valuable sources historians can analyse when understanding the events that led up to the Battle of Hastings, and the battle itself – which saw the Anglo-Saxon shield wall final succumb to the might and shrewd strategy of William’s Norman Army and King Harold being struck by an arrow in the eye… or so it seems…
In this documentary Professor Michael Lewis and Dr Emily Ward dissect the nuanced and, at times, controversial history of the Bayeux Tapestry and what it means to audiences today.
This series is centred around how William secured control of England after the Norman invasion and defeat of Harold Godwinson in 1066. It follows a story of conquest and strategic restructuring, but also of brutality and death. It is a story of numerous remarkable methods William used to control England. Each episode has a key focus. The theme that connects all the episodes is methods of control. These episodes are written and presented by history teacher Jack Pettitt, and include:
As soon as William entered England, he started to build the ultimate tool of control: castles. These symbolic powerhouses display how William stamped his authority on England. In this episode, Jack visits Buckenham Castle to gain a better understanding of a typical Norman castle.
The Welsh presented problems for the Anglo-Saxons; William wanted to further strengthen this border, so created the Marcher Earldoms. In this episode, Jack visits a castle in Herefordshire, still displaying signs of its construction in 1067.
The north of England still shows signs of the infamous Harrying of the North. In this episode, Jack explores the reasons why it happened, situated between two villages listed to have been scorched by Norman soldiers.
Three earls in 1075 decided to rebel against William, but this was not like the revolts before. In this episode, Jack visits Norwich to show explores the reasons why it happened, situated between two villages listed to have been scorched by Norman soldiers.
It wasn’t just castles that William built to stamp his mark on England. The Normans were Christian: this sees a complete restructuring of the English church as well as new Romanesque architecture. In this episode, Jack visits St Albans Abbey, one of the Cathedrals built under William I.
In the winter of 1069–70, William the Conqueror waged a series of military campaigns to subjugate northern England, where the presence of the last Wessex claimant, Edgar Atheling, had encouraged Anglo-Danish rebellions.
In Part 1 of this three part series, Daniel Gray explores the context behind these campaigns and their impact on northern medieval communities.