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The Norman Invasion

The 9th century saw two parallel conquests — while one branch of the Northmen was plundering England, another branch conquered the northern coast of France. They got the name "Normans" — a variation of the word "Northmen", the territory they settled down on was later called Normandy.

Normans adopted the French language, manners, customs and the way of life. They acknowledged the King of France as then" overlord, but the Duke of Normandy was as strong as the King himself and the domain of the Duke was even bigger. The Duchy of Normandy coined its own money, made its own laws, had its own courts and castles. There was the best-trained cavalry in Europe, which could wage wars against other dukes and even against the King of France.

The years of Danelaw in England brought it to close relations with Normandy. In 1042, after the death of Canute and his sons, Edward, the son of Aethelred the Unready, was brought from Normandy to become the King of England.

Being more French than English, Edward grew in a monastery and cared more for quiet, learned life. Edward built many cathedrals all over the country; the Westminster Abbey was built and became a royal residence in his reign.

When Edward died early in 1066, getting posthumously the title of "the Confessor", the Witenagemot declared his relative the Anglo-Saxon Earl Harold King. William, the Duke of Normandy, who was cousin to Edward the Confessor, claimed that England belonged to him and began preparations for a war.

William got the Pope of Rome on his side, promising to strengthen Pope's power over the English Church. He also called upon all Christian warriors of Europe promising them land instead of pay. Many sailing boats were built to carry the army across the Channel.

When the news of the intended invasion came to Harold, he led his army to Kent where the enemy was most likely to cross and waited all through the summer of 1066. Early in September Harold learned that William's ally the King of Norway had taken York. While Harold was defeating the invaders at Stamford Bridge not far from York, William landed in the south of England. Harold hurried back and on October 14 the decisive battle took place at Hastings. Though the Saxon army fought bravely it was defeated and Harold was killed in battle.


Immediately after that victory William and his army proceeded to London and took it without giving the rebellions Londoners any chance to get reinforcements. William was crowned King on December 25 as William I. He ruled England for 21 years (1066—1087) and established the Norman Dynasty.

Task 1. Speak about the Norman invasion using the map.

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