The Normans

The Normans
in Britain

by Mandy Barrow

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WW ll
Roamn Britain
Saxon Britain
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World War Two
500 BC
AD 43

Meet the four claimants to the English throne

When the English king Edward the Confessor died on 5 January 1066, no fixed procedures were in place to decide who should succeed him on the throne.

The Witan (a spreme council of wise men) had to make the decision, and they had four candidates to choose from.

Edgar the Atheling, closest blood claimant to Edward

Edgar, a Saxon prince and nephew of Edward, was a sickly fourteen year old boy.

Harold Godwinson, powerful noble in England, a good soldier and a gifted politician

Harold was born and bred in England and popular with ordinary people. He was son of Earl Godwin, the most powerful noble in England. Harold was a leading Saxon Lord and the brother of Edward's wife. He had won a number of battles for Edward.

Harold was chosen by the Witan (the King's council) to succeed Edward the Confessor. He also said that it was Edward's dying wish that he, Harold, should have the crown (There were no witnesses to Edward saying this)

The day after Edward died, Harold became King Harold ll of England.

Harold did not have a direct blood link to the king. He was not of royal birth.
(see timeline below)
(Photo on left shows Harold at a Battle of Hastings re-enactment. The real Harold would have had long hair.)

William, Duke of Normandy, over the sea in France

William was a distant cousin of Edward the Confessor and wanted to be the next king. He claimed that both Edward and Harold had promised him the throne, but English supporters of Harold challenged this.

When Edward was a boy in 1016, King Canute invaded England and Edward ran away to Normandy for safety. Edward stayed in Normandy until he became King of England in 1042. Edward invited William of Normandy to his court in 1051 and supposedly promised to make him heir.

After a shipwreck in 1064, Harold was handed over to William of Normandy, who forced him to swear an oath that he would help William become the next king of England when Edward died. It was said that the oath was given over a box that unbeknown to Harold contained the bones of a saint. Oaths were important guarantees that were considered binding in the Middle Ages, so this particular oath bound Harold to helping William, and made Harold’s own claim to the throne look illegal.

William had been a very successful ruler of Normandy and he thought he could do an equally good job for England.

(Photo on left shows William at a Battle of Hastings re-enactment)

Harald Hardrada, Viking king of Norway

Hardrada was king of Norway and a direct descendant of the kings of England. He was related to King Canute, the King of England from 1016-1032.

The Vikings invaded England long ago, in the 860s, and settled in the north. In 1016 the Viking King Canute became King of England, Denmark and Norway. England was ruled by Norwegian kings right up until 1042 when Edward the Confessor (the last Saxon King) snatched back the throne from them.

Hardrada anted to be King of England because he wanted more power and better land. Hardrada was very unpopular, but very powerful. His name alone was enough to strike fear into the hearts and minds of his enemies.

Royal Tree


The Norman Invasion of England - introduction

Meet the four claimants to the English throne (includes family tree)

The battle of Stamford Bridge

Who was the leader of the Normans?

Who were the Normans? Houses, clothes, food

Where did William fight Harold for the English Throne?
The Battle of Hastings

What happened at the Battle of Hastings?

Who died with an arrow in his eye?

William becomes King - plus Domesday Book info

The Bayeux Tapestry - introduction

What is the Bayeux Tapestry about?

Questions and answers about the Bayeux Tapestry Part one

Questions and answers about the Bayeux Tapestry Part two

Horses | Armour | Shields | Helmets | Weapons

Other websites

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the author Mandy Barrow.

©Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

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I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.