William born at Falaise, bastard son of Duke Robert the Magnificent of Normandy


William succeeds as duke (age 7 or 8). Result: anarchy, disorder, personal vendettas.  Violence: e.g. murder of Duke William’s steward Osbern in the duke’s bedchamber by a rival noble in early 1040s. Result: feud. William’s guardians Count Gilbert of Brionne, Osbern the Seneschal, and Alan count of Brittany were killed in a plot to depose the young duke. William’s court during his minority was dominated by his uncles Count William of Arques and Archbishop Malger of Rouen. Vicomtes and nobles dotted Normandy with private castles, taking advantage of the weakness of a child duke.


Edward the Confessor, the son of Æthelred the Unready and a Norman princess Emma, becomes king of England. Edward had spent most of his adult life in exile in Normandy.


Edward marries Edith, daughter of Godwin, the powerful earl of Wessex. Godwin’ second son Harold becomes earl of East Anglia


Battle of Val-ès-Dunes, southwest of Caen. William was supported by King Henry I of France (1031-60), his overlord. Together they put down the revolt of William’s cousin and guardian, Count Guy of Brionne. Most of the Norman nobility fought against William, while Henry I rather than William led the ducal and royal forces. King Henry I supported William probably to create a counterweight to growing power in region of Count Geoffrey Martel of Anjou (1040-60). William proclaims Truce of God in Normandy.


William consolidates power in Normandy and establishes a close-knit coterie of noble advisers, most prominently William fitz Osbern, Roger de Montgomery, Roger de Beaumont, Bishop Geoffrey of Countances, and William de Warenne. William also appointed his half-brother Odo bishop of Bayeux and named his other half-brother Roger count of Mortain. William’s foreign policy was to support King Henry I against their mutual enemy Geoffrey Martel, count of Anjou.


William Marries Mathilda, daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders


cliquez ici pour consulter l'album photographiqueDomfront



William captures castles of Alencon and Domfront from Geoffrey Martel of Anjou.






King Edward may have sent Robert, Archbishop of Canterbury, to Normandy to designate William as his heir. This story, however, appears only in post-Conquest Norman sources. William’s claim was tenuous;  Edward’s mother was William’s great aunt.


Earl Godwin and his sons are outlawed. Godwin and his sons Swein, Tosti, and Gyrth take refuge in Flanders. Harold and his brother Leofwine go to Ireland where he wins support from Diarmait of Leinster. Edward repudiates his marriage to Edith


Godwin and his sons return to England with naval forces. Edward restores the lands and honors to Godwin and his sons, and takes back Edith as his wife.


Godwin dies and Harold succeeds to his father’s earldom of Wessex. Serious but unsuccessful revolt against Duke William led by his uncle Count William of Arques and supported by the counts of Boulogne, Ponthieu, and Amiens.




Battle of Mortemer. Norman forces led by Robert of Eu surprise and defeat invading army of Henry I and Count Geoffrey Martel while they are plundering. The still childless Edward the Confessor sends an embassy to seek the return from Hungary of his nephew Edward ætheling, son of his older half brother Edmund Ironside, to be his heir.


William conquers Maine. Earl Siward of Northumbria dies, leaving a child as his heir. Harold’s brother Tostig succeeds Siward as earl. Earl Ælfgar of East Anglia, son of Earl Leofric, is outlawed and joins forces with Gruffydd ap Llwelyn, Prince of Wales, in an attack on Hereford. Harold is sent to Wales with an army and negotiates peace. Ælfgar is restored to his earldom.


Edward ætheling returns to England and dies soon after.


William’s two greatest enemies, King Henry I and County Geoffrey Martel of Anjou, both die. King Henry I is succeeded by a child, Philip I.  Anjou is weakened by a dispute over succession


Earl Ælfgar dies. His eldest son Edwin becomes earl of Mercia


Earl Harold visits Normandy. According to Norman sources, including the Bayeux Tapestry, Harold landed in Ponthieu and was taken prisoner by Count Guy. Duke Willliam secured his release and took him on campaign with him in Brittany. Subsequently, Harold is supposed to have accepted William as his lord (shown in the Tapestry by William conferring arms upon Harold) and sworn an oath to support William’s claim to the throne. Norman historians and modern historians have given various possible reasons for Harold’s journey to the Continent. The earliest Norman apologists (William of Poitiers and Guy of Amiens) claim that King Edward dispatched Harold to Normandy to confirm his promise of the throne to the duke.  Eadmer in the early twelfth century recast the story so that Harold, ignoring the warnings of King Edward, chose to go to Normandy to secure the release of his brother and nephew who were hostages in Duke William’s court. The visit is not mentioned in English sources, but the ubiquity of the story in the early Norman sources is evidence that it formed a key plank in William’s claim to legitimacy.


Rebellion in Northumbria against Earl Tostig. The rebels choose Morcar, Earl Edwin’s younger brother, to be their earl. Harold advises a reluctant King Edward to accept the coup. Tostig was outlawed and took refuge with his brother-in-law Count Baldwin V of Flanders.


5 Jan


6 Jan


24 April












Early Sept


8 Sept








20 Sept



16-24 Sept

25 Sept



27-28 Sept


8-9 Oct



13 Oct




14 Oct





mid Oct-mid Dec




25 Dec


Edward the Confessor dies. William claims throne of England








Harold II Godwinson crowned king of England; Edward buried














Halley’s Comet appears brightly in the sky










Tostig raids England with a fleet from Flanders. Driven from Lindsey by Earls Morcar and Edwin, Tostig sails to Scotland.


     Harold assembles “greater naval and land forces than any king in this country had ever assembled before” (ASC ‘C’ 1066). He stations his fleet of the Isle of Wight and distributes his land forces along the southern coast to guard against an invasion by Duke William


William assembles fleet in estuary of the river Dives; kept from sailing for a month by adverse winds

William’s fleet blown by westerlies to St Valery-sur-Somme




Harold forced to disband his land and sea forces after two months. Naval skirmish between English and Normans


Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, sails to England with 300 ships; joined by Tostig’s ships. Tostig pledges allegiance to Harald


Battle of Gate Fulford: Harald Hardrada defeats Earls Morcar and Edwin.


Harold force marches north from London

Battle of Stamford Bridge: Harold wins decisive victory


William crosses channel and lands at Pevensey. Moves forces to Hastings, where he builds motte-and-bailey castle and begins to ravage countryside for supplies and to draw Harold south













Harold arrives in London and assembles another army


Harold marches army 60 miles south into Sussex; makes camp by “hoary apple tree” on Caldbec Hill, half mile from battlefield


Battle of Hastings. William assembles army at dawn, marches 7 miles north to Senlac. Battle begins around 9AM and lasts through most of the day
























William forces submission of earls and magnates in London by creating a 350 miles circuit of destruction around London. William first strikes east into Kent, then turns back to the west to ravage the home counties, marching clockwise from Hampshire to Berkshire, to Bedford, to London. The earls and Londoners submit










William crowned king in Westminster abbey


William returns to Normandy. Appoints his half brother Bishop Odo of Bayeux and William fitz Osbern regents. Redistribution of English land begins as William rewards his Norman and French followers with offices and confiscated land.

c.1077*William's council

 Odo Bishop of Bayeux commissions (?) the Bayeux Tapestry


Domesday Book


An inventory from the church of Bayeux  describes "a very long and narrow hanging of linen, on which are embroidered figures and inscriptions comprising a representation of the Conquest of England" which was hung around the nave on some feast days. This is the first historical reference to the Bayeux Tapestry


A drawing of part of an unknown tapestry depicting Harold’s visit to Normandy is found in the papers of N.J. Foucault, former Intendant of Normandy by Antoine Lancelot.

1729 & 1730

Dom Bernard de Montfaucon, having identified Foucault’s anonymous tapestry with the one mentioned in the Bayeux inventory of 1476, publishes a drawing of the extent Bayeux Tapestry. An attempt is made to ‘restore’ the tapestry


Restoration of the Bayeux Tapestry is attempted on the basis of Charles Stothard’s study of its pin holes.






William the Conqueror, duke of Normandy (1035-1087) and King of England (1066-1087). William was the illegitimate son of Duke Robert (“the Devil”) of Normandy and his mistress Herleva of Falaise. According to tradition Herleva was the daughter of a tanner, although this, like much else about her, cannot be historically established. William was born in either 1027 or 1028, became duke of Normandy upon his father’s death while on pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1035, and ascended the throne of England in 1066. He faced a series of rebellions in both England and Normandy, including a major revolt by his eldest son Robert in 1077. In 1085, faced with a threatened invasion by King Cnut IV of Denmark, William ordered an inquest to determine who held what lands in England and how much these lands were worth. The result of the inquest was Domesday Book. William died in 1087 due to a fall from his horse in a midst of a campaign against King Philip I.


Mathilda of Flanders. Mathilda, the daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders, married Duke William of Normandy in 1049. She was crowned Queen of England on 11 May 1068. Dom Bernard de Montfaucon speculated in the early 18th century that the Bayeux Tapestry was the work of Queen Mathilda and in France the embroidery is still commonly referred to as "La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde" (Tapestry of Queen Mathilda). "La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde" (Tapestry of Queen Mathilda). Few historians  today, however, accept this ascription.


Edward the Confessor, king of England (1042-1066). Edward was the son of King Æthelred II the Unready and Emma, sister of Duke Richard II of Normandy. He was in exile in Normandy during the reigns of Cnut the Great and his son Harold Harefoot (1016-1041) and returned to England when his half-brother Hardecnut ascended the throne in 1041. Upon Hardecnut’s death in 1042 Edward became king. He married Edith, the daughter of Earl Godwin of Wessex, in 1045 but the marriage proved childless. Edward’s reign was dominated by Earl Godwin and his sons, who, after a brief exile in 1051, grew in power at the expense of the other English earls and the Crown. Political infighting was exacerbated by the king’s failure to produce an heir. In 1051 he may have named his cousin Duke William of Normandy as his heir, although the evidence for this comes only from post-Conquest Norman sources. An attempt to resolve the succession problem by bringing back his nephew Edward from Hungary ended in failure with the young prince’s untimely death soon after he arrived in England in 1057. Edward seems to have subsequently made Earl Tostig Godwinson, Harold’s younger brother, his favorite, but he proved powerless to prevent Tostig’s deposition as earl of Northumbria and exile in 1065. He died on Jan. 5, 1066. On his deathbed he appears to have recommended that his brother-in-law Harold succeed him as king.



Tostig (Earl of Northumbria)
Tostig was the son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex and brother of Harold II, King of England. Tostig became the Earl of Northumbria in 1055 and went to Flanders in 1065 after a rebellion against him lead by Morcar forced him out. Tostig sided with Harold Hardrada in the attempt to invade Britain and was (more...)

Odo (Bishop of Bayeux)
Born around 1035, Odo was the son of Herleva and Herluin de Conteville, brother of Robert, Count of Mortain. Odo's mother Herleva was the mother of William the Conqueror . Herleva married Herluin after the death of William's father Robert I (Duke of Normandy) . Odo wa (more...)

Fitz Osbern, William (Earl of Hereford)
William Fitz Osbern, a Norman, came into power after the conquest in 1066 and is closely associated with William the Conqueror. Fitzobern became Earl of Hereford in 1067 and to strengthen his position over the Anglo-Saxons built many castles, including Clifford, Chepstow, Ewyas Harold, Monmouth and (more...)

Matilda (of Flander)