In Christmas 1066 a great man named William the Bastard, a son of Robert the Magnificent, duke of Normandy invaded the England. At that time the ruler of England was King Harold II. Defeat of King Harold II in this invasion marked the beginning of new era in British history. The victory of William changed his nick name William the bastard to William the Conqueror.
King Edward who ruled England and his dismiss created a succession crisis. Harold Godwinson, a relative of Edward’s wife, was from a powerful family that controlled much English territory, and Edward may have made a deathbed acknowledgment of him. The king of Denmark traced his descent from Cnut, an earlier king of England. King Harald Hadrada of Norway was eagerly looking to extend his power over more territory. William of Normandy was supposedly promised the English throne by Edward the Confessor when William visited in 1052. But in the short terms, Harold took the throne of England. But Harald Hadrada and William were determined to contest his claim by force of arms.
Harold collected his supporters to form an army. He also called out the fyrd, a general summons somewhat like a militia. Harold gathered these forces in south England. William began to strengthening his troops and constructing troops by with the idea of invading England. Due to several factors Harold had to begin disbanding his army. Harald Hadrada took the opportunity and landed a force of 300 to 500 ships in north England and captured York. Harold Godwinson acted swiftly, recalling his troops and covering 190 miles in just few days he came upon the main Norse army at the Stamford Bridge. The battle of Stamford Bridge was hard fought and Harald Hadrada was killed. Finally English prevailed, but both sides suffered causalities.
Few days later with the absence of Harold’s army in coastal areas William took the advantage and landed on England with his army. Harold got to know about this and immediately camped a few miles William, and both armies are prepared to do battle in next day. The arms, tactics, and equipment of Harold’s Anglo-Saxon army and William’s Norman army shared much in common. But Harold’s army is estimated to have been slightly larger than William’s and to have been composed of large number of professional warriors and fyrdmen.
On October 14, 1066 William moved out with his men heading inland, had been sighted and William deployed his men for battle. The battle field was atop of a hill about 700 meter long. Because of this Harold had a good protection. William ordered his crossbowmen to heavily attack on English. But due to the natural protection it was useless. William next ordered a general advance, and his line attacked the English shield wall. There was bitter close combat all along the line, with the English hacking with swords and axes while the Normans struggled to find or break a gap in the lines of shields. William removed his helmet so that face was clearly visible, and his men could see that he still lived. William’s army got motivated and Harold troops were cut off and slaughtered. Harold was killed by an arrow in to his head.
On Christmas Day, William was crowned in Westminster Cathedral officially becoming the king of England. Ironically, Harold’s earlier victory at Stamford Bridge solidified William’s position.