Odo of Bayeux was born to Herleva of Falaise and Herluin de Conteville. He had an older brother, Robert and was half-brother to William
, son of Robert Duke of Normandy
1035 (22nd July)
Odo’s half-brother, William succeeded as Duke of Normandy after his father died in Nicea, returning from pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Odo was appointed Bishop of Bayeux.
was shipwrecked off the coast of Ponthieu and taken prisoner by Guy of Ponthieu. Harold was placed under virtual house arrest and accompanied William into battle at Rouen. After the battle he swore an oath to support William’s claim to the throne of England after the death of Edward the Confessor
1066 (5th January)
Edward the Confessor, King of England died
1066 (6th January)
The Witan decided that Harold Godwinson should be King of England. He was crowned the same day.
1066 (mid January)
Odo’s half-brother, William learned that Harold Godwinson had been crowned King of England. He was furious as he believed that the crown should be his.
1066 (late January)
Council of Lillebonne
Odo attended this meeting of Duke William’s most trusted advisers. They agreed to support William’s proposed invasion of England
and began making plans for an invasion.
1066 (20th May)
William made a case against Harold and presented it to the Pope. He was successful and gained papal backing for his invasion. The Pope sent him a banner to carry into battle.
1066 (late Spring)
William began preparing his invasion and amassed an armed force at Dives sur Mer. He announced that he would give land in England to any knight that fought for him.
Throughout the Summer William assembled a fleet of ships to carry his army across the Channel to England. Odo played a key part in helping to find ships for the invasion. Some sources claim that he contributed 100 ships.
1066 (4th August)
William’s fleet of around 1,000 ships was ready to sail but he delayed sailing, possibly due to unfavourable wind direction and possibly because he was waiting for harvest season in the hopes that some of the men stationed along the South coast would go home. While waiting to sail William had to provide food and provisions for up to 14,000 men and 3,000 horses.
1066 (early September)
William, decided not to wait for favourable weather and put his fleet to sea. The ships were unable to withstand the powerful stormy weather and those that survived were forced to put in to port at St Valery-sur-Somme.
1066 (28th September)
The Norman fleet finally set sail. Odo travelled to England with the fleet, sailing overnight and landing at Pevensey
on the South coast of England in the morning. They were surprised to find no army waiting for them.
1066 (30th September)
William decided to move the Norman army to Hastings as there was insufficient food in Pevensey to feed the army for more than a few days. Hastings also offered better defence and a more direct route to London.
1066 (early October)
Odo supported William and they remained in Hastings, confident that Harold would march South and challenge their presence. Staying put also had the advantage that William’s men would be rested before any battle whereas many of Harold’s men had marched north, fought a battle then marched south again.
1066 (13th October)
William’s scouts reported that the Saxon army had arrived. William told his men to be ready in case of a night attack.
1066 (14th October)
Battle of Hastings
Early in the morning Odo marched north with William to meet the Saxons. William set up his forces at the bottom of Senlac hill. He had three groups – Normans, Flemings and Bretons, both cavalry and infantry. Odo was armed with a club, possibly because, as a man of God, he could not use a sword, or maybe because it was his preferred choice of weapon. He spent much of the battle urging William’s army to fight in the name of God. William made repeated attempts to break the Saxon shield wall but had little success until a group of Breton infantrymen turned and ran down the hill. The Saxons that had been withstanding that group broke the shield wall and ran down after them.
William ordered that they become the focus of the next attack and although some managed to return to their line most were cut down. It is thought that Harold’s two brothers, Gyrth
lost their lives at this point.
Having seen how the Bretons fleeing down the hill broke the shield wall, William changed tactic and ordered his men to do the same thing. Although the shield wall did not break so spectacularly again it did begin to weaken. With the light beginning to fade William ordered his archers to fire again but to angle them higher so that they hit the men just behind the shield wall. It is thought that one of these arrows went through the eye slit of Harold’s helmet and struck him in the eye or near to the eye. While he was reeling from the arrow strike he was killed with a sword blow. With Harold dead and most of the leading nobles also dead many of the remaining men fled the battlefield. Those that remained were soon cut down. William was victorious.
1066 (16th October)
Odo returned to the Norman camp at Hastings with William. They expected a deputation of English nobles to come and submit themselves and England.
1066 (20th October)
William realised that the English were not going to submit to him and that he would have to force their submission. He left Hastings bound for Dover.
1066 (early November)
William and his army reached Dover and took the Roman fort that was stationed there.
William reached Canterbury and took control of the town.
1066 (early December)
William marched on London
1066 (10th December)
Realising that they could not defeat William, Edgar Aetheling
and the remaining English nobles submitted to William.
1066 (25th December)
Odo was created Earl of Kent. This appointment gave him control of Dover Castle.
Odo of Bayeux and William FitzOsbern
were left as regents of England when William returned to Normandy.
Eustace of Boulogne
was asked by the English to take the castle at Dover while Odo was out of Kent. Eustace duly complied but returned to Boulogne when he realised that Dover castle was too heavily fortified for him to take.
1067 (7th December)
William returned to England.
1067 (after 7th December) or 1068 (during)
William lay siege to the city of Exeter because King Harold’s mother, Gytha
, had fled to there following the death of her son and had persuaded the people of Exeter to resist the conqueror. King William I dug tunnels under the city walls to weaken them and the city fell after 18 days. Gytha fled the city and avoided capture.
1068 (11th May)
Matilda was crowned Queen of England in Westminster. She was the first Queen of England to be formally crowned.
The northern Earls Edwin
rebelled against William but later surrendered to the Conqueror
Harold Godwinson’s sons, Godwin
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.
William began a programme of castle building designed to stamp the Norman’s authority on England. Work began on castles at Warwick, York, Nottingham, Huntingdon, Lincoln and Cambridge.
Edgar the Aetheling attempted to take York but was unsuccessful
Edgar the Aetheling had joined forces with King Sweyn of Denmark
and together they attacked and took York
1069 (Late Autumn)
William marched North to deal with Edgar Aetheling. 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 – an event that is known as The Harrying of the North.
William founded an abbey on the site of the Battle of Hastings.
William defeated a rebellion by Earl Morcar and Hereward the Wake. Morcar was captured and imprisoned but Hereward managed to escape.
By this point Odo of Bayeux had land in 23 English counties.
Roger of Montgomery allowed Ralph de Gael to marry his sister even though the alliance had been forbidden by William. The two men then plotted to overthrow William and invited the Earl of Northumbria, Waltheof and Sweyn Estridsson of Denmark to join them. However, Waltheof got cold feet and told William of the plot. Odo helped William to deal with the incident and Roger of Montgomery was imprisoned. Ralph and his wife escaped to Brittany.
Trial of Penenden Heath
Odo of Bayeux was put on trial following a dispute with Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury
. The Archbishop claimed that, using his power as Earl of Kent, Odo had defrauded the Church. The trial lasted three days and at the end Odo had to return some properties to the church.
Work began in Canterbury on a huge embroidery to commemorate the Norman Conquest. It is believed to have been commissioned by Odo for his cathedral in Bayeux. But may have been commissioned by Eustace of Boulogne to present to Odo as appeasement for trying to take Dover Castle in 1067.
1080 (14th May)
The Norman Bishop of Durham was murdered by a group of English rebels. William sent his half brother Odo of Bayeux to deal with the rebels.
Odo of Bayeux was arrested and imprisoned. Sources are not clear on the reason for this action but it is thought that he may have mis-appropriated church funds or made a play to become Pope. His lands and status as Earl of Kent were returned to the Crown. He retained his position as Bishop of Bayeux.
William ordered commissioners to visit every part of England and make a detailed inventory of the holdings of every person in the land. Included in the survey were details of land ownership both before and after the Conquest, ownership of animals, machines and other goods. The exact reason for the survey, which was called The Domesday Survey is not known but it is thought that William intended to use to base tax calculations. Odo of Bayeux is listed as owning £3,000 worth of property.
1087 (9th September)
William I died in Normandy from an injury he received in July 1087. His eldest son, Robert Curthose, inherited Normandy, while his second son, William Rufus
inherited the English throne. On his deathbed, William sanctioned the release of Odo from prison.
Odo of Bayeux supported William’s eldest son, Robert Curthose’s claim that he should rule England and Normandy. An invasion by Robert failed. Odo was forced to leave England and he served Robert Curthose as an adviser in Normandy.
Odo of Bayeux decided to join the First Crusade.
Odo of Bayeux died in Palermo.