The governance of William the Conqueror from 1066 to 1087 as the King of England is mainly responsible for making Britain a powerful European nation.
William was born to Robert I, who was the Duke of Normandy and the daughter of a tanner in 1028. Since the parents weren’t married, William was technically an illegitimate child. Despite his background, he was raised to become the future Duke of Normandy like the father.
When he was seven years old, William’s father went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Robert assembled his nobles before leaving and made them swear that they would make William his heir should he die. His father died on his way back from Jerusalem, and William became the Duke of Normandy.
The Young Duke of Normandy
William was made Duke of Normandy in 1035. Since he was only seven years old and an illegitimate kid, many people weren’t happy with his crowing. Over the next few years, countless attempts were made against William’s life. His uncle, Archbishop Robert, looked after him. When the uncle died, King Henry, I of France, helped William to keep his crown.
When William was about twenty years old, his cousin, Guy of Burgundy, challenged his title. Guy had enrolled a few nobles and formed an army to fight William. Luckily for him, William won the battle and maintained his crown.
William, the conqueror, married Matilda of Flanders in 1050. It was a political marriage that strengthened William’s bond with the influential duchy of Flanders. The couple had five daughters and four sons.
When Edward the Confessor, a king of England, died in 1066, he didn’t leave any heirs to the throne. William claimed that Edward promised him the throne and was related to Edward through Edward’s uncle, Richard II.
Bedsides William, the conqueror, other men claimed the title. One of them was Harold Godwinson, who was the most powerful noble in England. The citizens wanted Harold to be crowned king, and it came to pass on 6th January 1066, a day after Edward’s death.
King Hardrada of Norway also had an interest in the English throne. So, he invaded England, and King Harold II went to fight him in a battle. William, the conqueror, decided to take advantage of this chance. He put together an army, crossed the English Channel and made a camp near the city of Hastings.
The Battle of Hastings and Becoming King
Harold II defeated King Hardrada of Norway, only to turn south and realize that William was waiting to battle him. William was ready with archers and heavily armored knights. Harold only had foot soldiers, and there was no way they would match William’s forces.
An arrow killed Harold II, and Willliam won the battle. William went on to capture the city of London, and he was crowned King of England on 25th December 1066.
William’s Hallmarks as a King
During the first years of his reign, William had to deal with revolts. At some point, he was immensely angered by the revolutions that he ordered most of the countryside to be destroyed. His army burnt farms, killed livestock, and ruined food in the area. It was known as “The Harrying of the North” and caused over 100,000 deaths.
One of William’s lasting legacies was building castles all over England. One of the most famous castles was the White Tower of the Tower of London.
William died while fighting the French in 1087. His first son, Robert, became Duke of Normandy and his second son was king of England.