Aelfgar, Earl of Mercia died. He was succeeded by Edwin
made a raid on Gruffydd ap Llewelyn’s court at Rhuddlan. Gruffydd managed to escape.
In a bid to defeat Gruffydd ap Llewelyn, Harold Godwinson supported by his brother, Tostig
, launched an attack on Wales. Tostig led the army to North Wales while Harold sailed first to South Wales and then to the North. Gruffyd ap Llewelyn was forced into the Snowdonia mountains.
It was very cold and the River Thames was frozen for 14 weeks.
Harold Godwinson was shipwrecked off the coast of Northern France near Ponthieu. He was capture by Duke Guy de Ponthieu who took him hostage. On hearing of the shipwreck William Duke of Normandy
demanded that Harold be brought to him. William kept Harold close even when he went into battle against his rival Conan of Brittany
. While in Normandy Harold swore an oath to support William’s claim to the throne after Edward’s death. Harold claimed the oath was made under duress.
1065 (3rd October)
Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumbria, had imposed harsh taxation. The people of Northumbria were not prepared to tolerate his tyrannical rule and so rebelled.
1065 (28th October)
Harold Godwinson explained the details of the Northumbrian rebellion against Tostig to the King. It was decided that Tostig should be exiled and replaced by Morcar
the younger brother of Edwin, Earl of Mercia.
1065 (28th December)
The rebuilt St Peter’s Abbey, officially titled the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster (known as Westminster Abbey) was consecrated. The building which had been begun by Edward the Confessor would not be completely finished until 1090.
1066 (4th or 5th January)
Edward the Confessor died childless. There were four contenders to the throne: Harold Godwinson, chief nobleman and Edward’s brother-in-law, Edgar Aetheling
, son of Edward the Exile
aged 14 years, William of Normandy who claimed he had been promised the throne in 1064 and Harald Hardrada
King of Norway, successor of Magnus the Good who had been promised the throne of England by Harthacnut
1066 (6th January)
The members of the Witan decided that Harold Godwinson should be King. He was crowned immediately, possibly in Westminster Abbey.
appeared in the sky. Some people thought it was a bad omen.
William of Normandy petitioned the Pope to support his claim to the English throne. The oath sworn by Harold Godwinson in 1064 was used as evidence. The Pope gave William his blessing and William began to prepare an invasion.
1066 (late Spring)
Harold knew that William of Normandy was likely to invade and so posted troops along the South coast.
Tostig Godwinson had been provided with ships and financial support by Count Baldwin V of Flanders. He made a series of raids along the South coast of England.
1066 (early Summer)
Tostig Godwinson attempted to invade the North of England but was repelled by Earl Morcar of Northumbria and Earl Edwin of Mercia. He fled to Scotland where he found some support.
Tostig Godwinson made an alliance with Harald Hardrada of Norway and together they planned an invasion of England.
1066 (8th September)
The combined forces of Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson invaded England. They landed at the mouth of the river Tyne.
1066 (8th September)
In the South, food supplies were running low and many men were abandoning their posts to go home and help with the harvest so Harold decided to send the troops posted on the South coast home.
The combined forces of Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson advanced into Northern England raiding and plundering along the way.
Harold II learned of the invasion and recalled the army and marched North.
1066 (20th September)
Battle of Fulford
Earl Edwin of Mercia and Earl Morcar of Northumbria called out their reserves and marched to stop the invasion of Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson. The forces met at Fulford but the English earls were no match for Hardrada and were defeated.
1066 (24th September)
Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson took York.
1066 (24th September)
Harold Godwinson’s English army reached Tadcaster 15 miles South of York.
1066 (25th September)
Battle of Stamford Bridge
Harold Godwinson’s English force surprised Harald Hardrada’s Norwegian force at Stamford Bridge. Before the battle began Harold offered his brother, Tostig who had allied with Hardrada, an earldom if he defected to the English. Tostig refused and the English began the advance. However, they had to cross a bridge which was defended by a large Norwegian axe man. Legends state that this axe man cut down around 40 English men before being killed by a spear thrust from beneath the bridge.
Harald Hardrada was killed shortly after the bridge was crossed. Tostig again refused to surrender and the fighting continued. In the early evening Tostig was killed and those Norwegians that were still alive turned and fled back to their ships.
1066 (28th September)
William Duke of Normandy landed at Pevensey
on the South coast of England at the head of an invasion force.
1066 (29th September)
William ordered his men to begin construction of a wooden fort within the Roman stone walled castle at Pevensey.
1066 (30th September)
The Norman army left Pevensey and re-grouped at Hastings. Foot soldiers marched via Hailsham, Herstmonceux and Ashburnham while the cavalry sailed with the ships. Once in Hastings the Normans began building a wooden fort on top of the hill overlooking the bay.
1066 (1st October)
Harold learned of William’s invasion. He made plans to return South immediately.
1066 (6th October)
Harold Godwinson and the remnants of the Saxon army reached London on their march South from York. They had collected many volunteers along the way but the volunteers were not knights and were poorly armed and untrained for war. As soon as he reached London Harold sent out messengers calling for more men to come to his aid.
1066 (9th October)
Some of Harold’s advisers suggested that he remain in London and allow his brother Gyrth
to lead the Saxon army into battle. Harold refused this suggestion saying that he would lead the men personally.
1066 (10th October)
Harold Godwinson told his men to prepare to leave London.
1066 (11th October)
Harold and his army left London.
1066 (12th October)
Harold Godwinson reached Maidstone and made camp for the night just outside the town.
1066 (13th October)
Harold Godwinson’s army had travelled along the Dover/Folkestone Road and reached Caldbec Hill a few miles away from Hastings. They made camp on the hill.
1066 (13th October)
William’s scouts had been roaming the area around the Hastings area and learned of the Saxon army’s arrival. William half expected Harold to make a night attack and ordered his men to be ready in case of attack. He determined that if there was no night attack he would march north to meet Harold in the morning.
1066 (14th October)
The Battle of Hastings
Early in the morning Harold learned that William’s army was marching north. Without sufficient men to defend Caldbec Hill Harold moved his men to Senlac Hill where they formed a shield wall.
The battle began at 9am and lasted until late afternoon when Harold fell probably due to an arrow hitting him in or near the eye. With Harold dead many of the remaining Saxons left the field.
William was victorious. He gave thanks to God and ordered that an abbey be built on the battlefield and that the high altar be built on the spot where Harold had died.
1066 (15th October)
An emergency meeting of the Witan was called and it was decided that Edgar Aetheling, great grandson of Aethelred the Unready
, should be King.
1066 (15th October)
William called for Harold’s mistress, Edith Swanneck
to be brought to identify Harold’s body. Once this was done William took Harold’s body into his custody. He gave orders for the dead to be buried then returned to Hastings. He expected that a deputation of English nobles would arrive to offer their submission.
1066 (20th October)
William realised that the English nobles were not going to submit to him and that he would have to take the throne and the country by force. He left Hastings bound for Dover.
1066 (late October)
Harold Godwinson’s mother, Gytha fled to Exeter where she began to raise a force to defeat William of Normandy. She was likely accompanied by Harold’s sons, Godwin
1066 (early November)
William reached Dover and took the fort that was positioned on the hill. He gave orders for a new castle to be built.
William took control of Canterbury.
1066 (early December)
William marched on London. He was unable to cross the Thames at Southwark so marched on London from the South-West.
1066 (10th December)
Edgar Aetheling and the nobility in London realised they could not beat William and offered their submission.
1066 (25th December)
William, Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.
Initially the Northern Earls, Edwin and Morcar had began organising resistance to William but they now changed their minds and offered him their submission.
William began distributing land to those Norman nobles that had come with him from Normandy and had fought with him at the Battle of Hastings. William’s brother, Odo became Earl of Kent and was given all of the county while his best friend William FitzOsbern
was made Earl of Hereford and given all of Hereford as well as the Isle of Wight.
William returned to Normandy. He took with him those Englishmen that he felt might be a focus for rebellion – Edgar Aetheling, Edwin, Morcar and Archbishop Stigand. William’s brother Odo of Bayeux
and William’s close friend William FitzOsbern were made regents of England.
Eadric the Wild’s
Eadric was a Saxon thane who refused to submit to William’s authority. He allied himself to two Welsh princes and began making raids on Hereford. Although his rebellion had little effect he did evade capture and remained in Wales.
Eustace of Boulogne
had fought with William at Hastings but they had since fallen out. With William in Normandy and England being ruled harshly by William’s regents, the English nobles sent a message to Eustace asking him to take the castle at Dover while Odo was out of Kent. Eustace duly complied but when he saw how heavily Dover was fortified he realised he did not have enough men to win and returned to Boulogne.
1067 (7th December)
William returned to England. He realised that he needed to be present in the country to stop further rebellions or moves against him from happening.
1067 (after 7th December) or 1068 (during)
William lay siege to the city of Exeter hoping to put down Gytha’s rebellion. He dug tunnels under the city walls to weaken them and the city fell after 18 days. Gytha and her grandchildren fled to the island of Flat Holm in the Bristol Channel.
William’s wife, Matilda,
arrived in England.
1068 (late Spring)
Edgar Aetheling, thought by many to be the true King of England took his mother and sister to Scotland to seek support of the Scottish King.
1068 (11th May)
William’s wife, Matilda, was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Cathedral by Archbishop Ealdred.
Earls Edwin and Morcar revolted against William. When they had submitted to William early in 1067 William had promised Edwin his daughter in marriage. When the marriage was not forthcoming Edwin rebelled and his brother followed him.
Harold Godwinson’s sons, Godwin
, Edmund and Magnus Haroldson had been in Ireland raising support. They now tried to take Bristol as their base in England but the people of Bristol were worried about the consequences of supporting the Haroldsons and they returned to Ireland to rethink strategy.
Queen Matilda gave birth to a son, Henry
. He was the first of William’s children to be born in England and would rule as King Henry I from 1100 to 1135.
Siege of Exeter
King Harold’s mother, Gytha
, had fled to the city of Exeter following the death of her son. She and the people of Exeter vowed to resist the conqueror. However, William had other ideas and lay siege to the city. He dug tunnels under the city walls to weaken them and the city fell after 18 days. Gytha fled the city.
Edgar Aetheling attempted to take York but was unsuccessful.
1069 (11th September)
Ealdred, Archbiship of York died.
Edgar the Aetheling had joined forces with Sweyn of Denmark
and together they attacked and took York.
1069 (late Autumn)
The Harrying of the North
On hearing that York had been taken, William marched North. He paid off the Danes and defeated the Saxon rebels. Having re-established York as a Norman stronghold he set about defeating all other Northern pockets of resistance to his rule.
First published 2016; updated and republished May 3 2022 @ 10:20 – Updated – [last-modified]