Story of 1066

The Story of 1066: Collectibles

Congratulations on finding a collectible. Now you can read more about England's most famous date and be ready to test your knowledge with our 1066 quiz.

William the Conqueror

Aged about 39 in 1066, William was the child of a teenage romance between Robert 'the Magnificent', Duke of Normandy and Herleva, the daughter of a tanner (leatherworker). His enemies mocked his mother's low birth, calling him 'William the Bastard' or 'William the Tanner'.

William had a troubled childhood. His father died when he was seven, making him Duke of Normandy, but he had to hide in disguise from enemies, and after he was officially declared an adult (aged fifteen) he often had to fight for his dukedom.

This hard training made him a brave and resourceful warrior: tall and exceptionally strong, he had a loud harsh voice and a frightening appearance. Though loyal to the Church and unusually faithful to his wife, Matilda of Flanders, he could also be cruel, greedy and ruthless. But his toughness and determination made 'William the Conqueror' one of England's most effective rulers ever.

Harold Godwinson

Harold Godwinson, who became the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, was about 44 in 1066. His father was the powerful Anglo-Saxon nobleman Earl Godwin; his mother, Gytha, was related to the Danish kings.

The Godwinsons, a large but turbulent family, dominated most of England during Edward the Confessor's reign. Harold's sister Edith married King Edward, making him the old king's brother-in-law.

At the beginning of 1066 Harold was head of the family, Earl of Wessex, and the real ruler of England. Also a clever and experienced warrior, he seemed the obvious choice of new king to defend the country against Norman and Viking threats. But there were problems. Harold had no English royal blood, and--perhaps either tricked or forced--he had seemingly sworn to support the claims of his rival, William of Normandy.

As a chronicler at the time wrote, Harold would 'meet little quiet as long as he ruled the realm'.

Harold Hardrada

Harald Hardrada ('Harald the Ruthless'), King of Norway, was the most feared warrior in northern Europe. He fought his first battle aged fifteen, and then fought for hire in Russia, the Mediterranean and even North Africa, gaining a fortune from plunder and marrying the Czar of Russia's daughter. Returning to become King of Norway, he enforced his stern rule by fire and slaughter; he also claimed the throne of England as the heir of King Cnut, who'd reigned before Edward the Confessor. Aged 50 in 1066, this last of the great Viking warleaders was said to be over seven feet tall. His raven battle-flag was called 'Landwaster'.

Want to know more?

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