Norman Conquest 1064 – 1077

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Battle of Hastings


This timeline details the main events of the Norman Conquest of England from 1066 – 1080



1064 (date unknown)
Harold Godwinson was shipwrecked off the coast of Ponthieu. William, Duke of Normandy ordered that Harold be brought to him. Harold was placed under virtual house arrest, accompanying 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.
1065 (3rd October)
The people of Northumbria rebelled against the harsh rule of Harold’s brother Tostig. Harold was sent to deal with the situation and sided with the people and sent his brother into exile. Tostig was furious with Harold and vowed revenge.
1065 (28th October)
Harold Godwinson reported to the King regarding the situation in Northumbria. It was agreed that Tostig would be sent into exile and Morcar would replace him as Earl of Northumbria. Tostig was furious with Harold and vowed revenge.
1065 (November)
Tostig and his family went to Flanders where they received the support of Count Baldwin V
1066 (4th or 5th January)
King Edward the Confessor died. He had no children and the succession was unclear.
1066 (6th January)
The Witan met and considered the four claimants to the English throne. Edgar Aetheling was considered too young and both William of Normandy and Harald Hardrada were dismissed leaving Harold Godwinson who was crowned King Harold II later that day.
1066 (March)
Halley’s comet appeared in the sky
1066 (Spring)
Anticipating a challenge to his Kingship by William of Normandy, Harold stationed militia along the South coast and on the Isle of Wight.
1066 (Spring)
William learned that Harold had been crowned King of England and began preparing an invasion. He also gained papal support for his invasion.
1066 (May)
Tostig Godwinson was provided with ships by Count Baldwin V of Flanders and made a series of raids along the South Coast.
1066 (early Summer)
Tostig attempted to invade and take Mercia but was beaten by Earls Edwin and Morcar. He retreated to Scotland.
1066 (Summer)
Tostig Godwinson made contact with Harald Hardrada in Norway and offered his support for Harald’s claim to the English throne.
1066 (August)
William’s fleet 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.
1066 (8th September)
With food provisions and morale running low Harold took the decision to send his troops home.
1066 (8th September)
Harald Hardrada the Norwegian King, supported by Harold’s brother Tostig, invaded England. They had crossed the North Sea from Norway and landed at the mouth of the River Tyne.
1066 (September)
Harald Hardrada began making raids on towns and villages in the north
1066 (20th September)
Battle of Fulford
Earl Morcar of Northumbria and Earl Edwin of Mercia called up their reserves and met the forces of Hardrada and Tostig at Fulford. The English earls were easily defeated by the Norwegians and fled.
1066 (24th September)
The city of York fell to Hardrada.
1066 (24th September)
Harold Godwinson reached Tadcaster, 15 miles south of York, at the head of an English army.
1066 (25th September)
Battle of Stamford Bridge
Harold Godwinson’s English army defeated the Norwegians. Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson were both killed.
1066 (28th September)
William duke of Normandy landed at Pevensey on the South coast of England.
1066 (30th September)
The Normans left Pevensey for Hastings.
1066 (1st October)
Harold learned of the Norman invasion. He immediately made plans to return South.
1066 (6th October)
Harold and his Saxon army reached London. Harold issued a call for men to join his cause.
1066 (10th October)
Although it had been suggested that Harold should remain in London and let his brother Gyrth lead the army into battle, Harold refused and told the men to get themselves ready to leave London.
1066 (11th October)
Harold and the Saxon army left London and began the march south.
1066 (13th October)
By the evening of 13th October Harold and his army had reached Caldbec Hill in the South of England.
1066 (14th October)
Battle of Hastings
Early in the morning William marched north to meet the Saxons. Harold knew he did not have enough men to defend Caldbec Hill so moved to Senlac Hill where his army formed a shield wall.

William arrived and set up his forces at the bottom of the hill. He had three groups – Normans, Flemings and Bretons, both cavalry and infantry. William opened the battle with a barrage of arrows which, because of the hill flew over the heads of the Saxons. Next William sent in his infantrymen but they were unable to break through the shield wall. 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 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.

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 (15th October)
The Witan proclaimed Edgar Aetheling, great grandson of Aethelred the Unready, King of England
1066 (15th October)
William returned to his camp at Hastings. He expected the English nobles to submit to him.
1066 (20th October)
William realised that the English nobles were not going to submit to him and left Hastings bound for Dover
1066 (early November)
William reached Dover and took control of the fort stationed on the hill. He ordered that a new castle be built.
1066 (November)
William took control of Canterbury
1066 (early December)
William marched on London
1066 (10th December)
Edgar Aetheling and the English nobility submitted to William
1066 (25th December)
William was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey
1067 (January)
The Earls Edwin and Morcar decided to submit to William.
1067 (January)
William began to distribute English land to those Norman nobles that had came with him from Normandy and fought at the Battle of Hastings
1067 (March)
William returned to Normandy. He took with him Edgar Aetheling, Edwin, Morcar and other prominent English nobles. Odo of Bayeux and William FitzOsbern were left as regents of England.
1067 (August)
A rebellion by Eadric the Wild was unsuccessful
1067 (Autumn)
Eustace of Boulogne was asked by the English to invade England 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
1068 (early)
A revolt by the people of Exeter was successfully put down
1068 (late Spring)
Edgar Aetheling, his mother and sister went to Scotland
1068 (Summer)
Earls Edwin and Morcar rebelled against William
1068 (Summer)
Harold Godwinson’s sons, Godwin, Edmund 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.
1068 (Summer)
William began a programme of castle building designed to stamp the Norman’s authority on England. Work was begun on castles at Warwick, York, Nottingham, Huntingdon, Lincoln and Cambridge.
1069 (Spring)
Edgar the Aetheling attempted to take York but was unsuccessful
1069 (Autumn)
Edgar the Aetheling had joined forces with 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.
1070 (Spring)
Hereward the Wake and King Sweyn of Denmark took the Isle of Ely
1070 (During)
Hereward the Wake had been joined by Earl Morcar and together they had managed to hold the Isle of Ely against the Normans. However, the Normans eventually managed to bribe a local person to show them a safe route across the Fens enabling them to break the rebellion. Morcar was captured but Hereward escaped.
1071 (During)
Earl Edwin launched another revolt against the Normans but was betrayed by his own men and killed.
1071 (During)
William constructed a causeway between mainland England and the Isle of Ely in order to defeat Hereward and Earl Morcar. Morcar was captured and imprisoned but Hereward managed to escape.
1072 (During)
William rode North to deal with King Malcolm Canmore of Scotland. He pushed the Scottish King back and Malcolm was forced to agree to the terms of the Treaty of Abernethy. William took Malcolm’s son, Duncan, hostage.
1073 (During)
With England relatively secure William returned to Normandy to deal with unrest in the Maine.
1077 (During)
Work began in Canterbury on a huge embroidery to commemorate the Norman Conquest. It is known as the Bayeux Tapestry


Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2015). Norman Conquest 1066 – 1077 Available: Last accessed May 19th, 2019


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