1066 is considered as a turning point in Medieval England. By the end of the year, a Norman was at the head of England and the consequences of the Norman Conquest deeply changed British society.
At the start of 1066, the Anglo Saxon King Edward the Confessor died and had no direct heir. Two rivals were vying for the throne, Harold the English baron and William the Norman Duke. Harold was at the time the most powerful nobleman of the country. He was not blood relative to Edward but he was his brother-in-law and one says that at the very moment of Edward’s death, the dying king uttered: "Into Harold's hands I commit my Kingdom.” Across the English Channel, William, duke of Normandy, also claimed the throne. According to him, King Edward promised the throne to him in 1051 before he died as William was visiting England. Moreover, Harold was indebted to William who had paid a ransom for Harold’s release in 1064. In return, Harold promised to William to let him become king. But the English baron broke his word two days after Edward’s death and was crowned king by Archbishop Stigant. As a consequence, William landed at Hastings on September 28 1066 with 7000 men and defeated Harold thanks to clever tactics using the advantage of cavalry and archers. Harold was killed in this battle and the legend says that he was shot through the eye with an arrow. After his victory at the Battle of Hastings, William was nicknamed William the Conqueror and took the throne by force.
After his coronation as king of England, William introduced the feudal system. Indeed, ruling both English kingdom and Duchy of Normandy, William couldn’t make it himself, especially when he had to return to Normandy to maintain his control over the land. That’s why he divided up England into very large plots of lands, which were given to the noblemen who had fought bravely for him in battle. In terms of the Feudal system, these noblemen were called tenants-in-chief. To grant these lands to his...
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