Tuesday 22 August 2017

Norman England

In September 1066, William of Normandy invaded England, in a campaign which was popularly known as Norman Conquest of England. He decisively defeated and killed Harold Godwinson, King of England at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. After further military efforts William was crowned king on Christmas Day 1066, in London.

Clifford's Tower, York

After William of Normandy became the King of England in 1066, he remained in England after his coronation and tried to reconcile the native magnates. He made arrangements for the governance in early 1067 before returning to Normandy. Then the king returned to Normandy late in 1068. Several unsuccessful rebellions followed, but by 1075 William's hold on England was mostly secure, allowing him to spend the majority of the rest of his reign on the continent.

Statue of William the Conqueror

Early in 1069, Edgar the Ætheling rose in revolt and attacked York. York was captured by the combined forces of Edgar and Sweyn, King of Denmark. But Edgar, having lost much of his support, fled to Scotland. While at Winchester in 1070, William met with three papal legates – John Minutus, Peter, and Ermenfrid of Sion – who had been sent by Pope Alexander. The legates ceremonially crowned William during the Easter court. In 1071 William defeated the last rebellion of the north.

Pope Alexander II

In 1072 William invaded Scotland, defeating Malcolm, King of Scotland who had recently invaded the north of England. William and Malcolm agreed to peace by signing the Treaty of Aberneth. William then turned his attention to the continent, returning to Normandy in early 1073 to deal with the invasion of Maine by Fulk le Rechin, the Count of Anjou. William died on 9 September 1087. On his death, the custody of England was given to William's second surviving son, also called William.

Malcolm III of Scotland

As part of his efforts to secure England, William ordered many castles, keeps, and mottes built – among them the central keep of the Tower of London, the White Tower. These fortifications allowed Normans to retreat into safety when threatened with rebellion and allowed garrisons to be protected while they occupied the countryside. The early castles were simple earth and timber constructions, later replaced with stone structures.

Tower of London, White Tower

William II succeeded his father William the conqueror to become king of England in 1087 CE. He reigned till 1100 with powers over Normandy and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales. Less than two years after becoming king, William II lost his father William I's adviser and confidant, the Italian-Norman Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury.

William II of England

In 1091 he repulsed an invasion by King Malcolm III of Scotland, forcing Malcolm to pay homage. In 1092 he built Carlisle Castle, taking control of Cumberland and Westmorland, which had previously been claimed by the Scots. At the Battle of Alnwick, on 13 November 1093, Malcolm was ambushed by Norman forces led by Robert de Mowbray. Malcolm and his son Edward were killed. On 2 August 1100, William was killed by an arrow through the lung.

Carlisle Castle

William II was succeeded by Henry I who became king in 1100 CE and ruled until his death in 1135 CE. Robert(Henry's brother), who invaded in 1101, disputed Henry's control of England; this military campaign ended in a negotiated settlement that confirmed Henry as king. The peace was short-lived, and Henry invaded the Duchy of Normandy in 1105 and 1106, finally defeating Robert at the Battle of Tinchebray. 

Henry I of England

Henry's control of Normandy was challenged by Louis VI of France, Baldwin VII of Flanders and Fulk V of Anjou, who promoted the rival claims of Robert's son, William Clito, and supported a major rebellion in the Duchy between 1116 and 1119. Following Henry's victory at the Battle of Brémule, a favourable peace settlement was agreed with Louis in 1120.

Battle of Bremule

Henry declared his daughter, Matilda, his heir and married her to Geoffrey of Anjou of House Plantagenet. Henry died on 1 December 1135 after a week of illness. Despite his plans for Matilda, the King was succeeded by his nephew, Stephen of Blois, resulting in a period of civil war known as the Anarchy.


The Anarchy was a civil war in England and Normandy between 1135 and 1153, which resulted in a widespread breakdown in law and order. The conflict was a succession crisis precipitated by the accidental death of William Adelin, the only legitimate son of Henry I, in 1120. Henry's attempts to install his daughter, the Empress Matilda, as his successor were unsuccessful and on Henry's death in 1135, his nephew Stephen of Blois seized the throne with the help of Stephen's brother, Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester.

Battle of Lincoln, The Anarchy

During the Anarchy period, Matilda and her own son stood for direct descent by heredity from Henry I, and she bided her time in France. In the autumn of 1139, she invaded England with her illegitimate half-brother Robert of Gloucester. Her husband, Geoffroy V of Anjou, conquered Normandy. Stephen was captured, and his government fell. Matilda was proclaimed queen but was soon at odds with her subjects and was expelled from London.

Geoffroy of Anjou

Empress Matilda and Geoffroy's son, Henry, resumed the invasion; he was already Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy and Duke of Aquitaine when he landed in England. When Stephen's son and heir apparent Eustace died in 1153, the king reached an accommodation with Henry of Anjou (who became Henry II) to succeed Stephen and in which peace between them was guaranteed. The Plantagenet family held the English throne from 1154, with the accession of Henry II, until 1485, when Richard III died.

Henry II of England


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