William the Conqueror (1028 – 1087)

William, Duke of Normandy, as illustrated in the Bayeux Tapestry.
  • William, Duke of Normandy, was born in 1028 in Northern France (Normandy).
  • For years William looked to expand his lands beyond Normandy and in  1066 he took a massive military gamble by deciding to invade England.
  • William believed that he had a strong blood relation to the childless King of England – Edward the Confessor*. Edward died in 1066. William persuaded the Pope (head of the Church) to support his invasion of England.
  • The gamble paid off at Hastings in 1066, when William defeated the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings, Harold Godwinson. William brought over hundreds of Norman Nobles to rule England. Thousands of other Normans also came to the British Isles to make their it their home.
  • William became both King William I of England and Duke of Normandy. England and a large part of France were now ruled by one man. This unity did not last, as King William divided England and Normandy on his death between his two oldest sons.

*(Edward’s mother, Emma of Normandy, was William’s great-aunt).