Story of 1066

The Story of 1066: Life in Anglo-Saxon England

Congratulations on finding a collectible. Now you can read more about life in Anglo-Saxon England.

The Saxons

In 1066 Anglo-Saxon England had been a single kingdom for nearly 150 years. Its people were a mixture of Anglo-Saxons and descendants of Viking settlers, who mostly lived in the north.  The Anglo-Saxon King Alfred and his successors had halted the first Viking invasions.

But Vikings returned in the 990s, and the Danish king Cnut (Canute) and his family ruled England from 1016 until 1042, when Edward the Confessor restored the old Anglo-Saxon royal line.

During the 24 years of Edward's reign, Anglo-Saxons and Viking descendants lived fairly peacefully together. But who knew what would happen when Edward the Confessor died, without a clear successor?

Name changes

One of the most obvious changes to English culture after 1066 occurs in the names people called themselves. Most Saxon and early Celtic personal names disappeared quite quickly after the Norman Conquest. French names like William, Robert and Henry become popular among the general population – and for the first time, surnames start to appear.

Why do we have surnames?