Norman conquest of England was an invasion by the Duchy of Normandyball against the Anglo-Saxon ruled Kingdom of Englandball after the king of England, Harold Godwinson, refused to give up the throne to the heir of the last king, William the Conqueror.
England in the Middle Ages
The sun is shining, birds are singing, the children are playing in the village square, what a wonderful time to be alive! Wait really? People are dying from dysentary, and also being raided by vikings, what an awful time to be alive!
It's the year 900. Europe is a vikings wet dream, raids galore. One day, Norwayball decided to raid West Franciaball's capital, Parisball. That particular raid didn't go to well, but France saw how tough and scary Norway was, and decided to let him stay and have part of her clay in the north, and in return he would protect her from other vikings. It was agreed, and soon Normandyball was born.
English viking problems.
Englandball also had his fair share of viking problems. In the 800s, Denmarkball had conquered most of the country, but England eventually managed to kick him out, although he left behind a bunch of viking settlers.
Now this guy's king, he sucks, so they replace him with his brother. He then had two children from two different mothers, and when he died, nobody was sure who to make king. The first son Edward the Martyr took the throne due to being older, but he was soon assassinated, giving the throne to Æthelred the Unready.
Æthelred grew up and married the Duke of Normandy's daughter, and had a bunch of kids (remember this one, he's important). His advisors informed him about the viking settlers, and how they might plan to attack and kill him, and Æthelred organized a genocide. With his people under attack, Denmark launched an invasion, and the vikings reconquered England once again. Then the Anglo-Saxons unconquered it, and then the vikings reconquered it.
With England under new rule, the King's family had to go into exile, including Edward, remember him? He went to Normandy where he lived for 30 years. He and his brother Alfred tried to return to England to retake the throne from the vikings, but were betrayed by the Earl of Wessex, who blinded and killed Alfred. Edward escaped back to Normandy, and after a few more viking kings came and went, one finally died without and heir and Edward was called back to England to become king.
Here's the thing about becoming a king in the middle ages. Often your entire country won't support you at first, you can be vulnerable to rebellions, and it's up to you to take control. Fortunately for Edward, there was already a super powerful guy who had a lot of control over England, and if Edward could get his support, then England would be his. Who is this guy? The guy who killed Alfred, Godwin, Earl of Wessex.
After an awkward moment where Edward exiled Godwin from the country, he eventually had to give in and let him keep his earldom, possibly after Godwin gave him a bunch of gold, and told him he was very very sorry, King Edward also married Godwin's daughter.
When Godwin died, his massive fortune was passed down to his sons, who all became Earls, This one in particular became the new Earl of Wessex. Harold Godwinson was now King Edward's brother in law, he was a close advisor to the King, a brave warrior who had proven himself in a battle against Walesball, and in many ways he was sort of like a Co-King.
Who's the next King?
Uh oh, Edward got old and he's on his death bed. Possibly for religious reasons, or maybe because he wasn't happy about having to marry her, he didn't boink his wife, and as a result has no kids. Meaning there was no obvious heir to the throne, meaning Harold is gonna be king (He does have a grand nephew, it could've been him).
Just one problem, we mentioned that Edward's mother was in Normandy, Edward grew up in Normandy, and he had a bunch of Norman friends. The current duke of Normandy was William the Bastard, why was he called the bastard? One day his father was sneaking out of his castle to go to the tanners shop to get a "tan". That was a lie, firstly because tanners give you leather, not tans, and secondly because he was really going to see the Tanner's daughter. One thing leads to another, and out comes baby William, born out of wedlock, thus an absolute bastard.
His father died when William was seven or eight, and he became the new Duke. He spent most of his childhood narrowly avoiding assassination, which probably turned him into the big-balls tough guy he's remembered as today. In 1051, the town of Aleçon tried to rebel against him, and the townspeople even beat on dead animal skins as an insult to his commoner mother. William was furious, and he responded by, well let's just say it wasn't pretty (Dude, where are your arms?). That's the guy we're dealing with here.
William and Edward were good friends, and Edward allegedly promised that William could have the English throne after him. A decade later, Harold even visited William, and pledged an oath to him over holy relics, promising that William could be the next King of England. Although it's possible Harold only did it because William was holding his family hostage. So when William heard that Edward was on his death bed, he prepared to become King. Now you have two extremely powerful men who both think they're about to become the next king, but wait, there's more.
This guy is the King of Norway. He spent most of his life as a warrior for hire, fighting for whoever would give him the most gold, you name a place, he's probably fought there. Poland? Yep. Estonia? Yep. Against pirates in the Mediterranean? Yep. The holy lands, Sicily and Bulgaria? Yep. He got crazy right off the back of it, and was swimming in gold, then returning home and becoming King.
One of the previous Norwegian vikings made an agreement with one of England's Viking Kings, saying that when that Viking King died, the King of Norway would get the English Throne. Hardrada felt that because of this agreement, he was now entitled to the English throne. He was also eager to go on one last big conquest that would turn him into a legend. When he got word that Edward was on his death bed, he began to plan an invasion of England and take the throne. So now we have three extremely powerful men who all think they're going to become the next King of England, and that means somebody's probably about to get hurt.
Road to War
Back in England, while Harold is watching over dying Edward, he finally comes out with a shocking announcement to the people. Edward has died, and he "told" Harold to be the next king, and anyone else who he said could be king will no longer have the chance (Liar). With that biased announcement, Harold easily took the throne and kicked the other two out of the competition.
Usually it took months of preparation to crown a new king, but Harold rushed it and had himself crowned the same day Edward was buried. In Normandy, William's advisors came to him, and informed him of Harold taking the throne, and William was furious. After sending an envoy to Harold to demand him to give him the throne, which failed, William immediately began gathering his armies together and prepare for an invasion of England.
Now killing a king was often frowned upon in old-time Europe, because they were considered to have been chosen by God himself, so William had to literally get God on his side.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl3K63Rbygw&t=156s - Oversimplified
- https://www.wikipedia.org/ - Wikipedia