September 27, 1066: William I begins the Norman conquest of England
William the Bastard’s conquest of England established a legacy of French kings who would rule England for centuries, changed architecture styles all over the country and created the now-famous Tower of London and Battle Abbey. But, his success was only achieved after a string of bad luck changed all his plans.
The trouble with sailing to England
When William and his men arrived at Saint-Valery on the Somme in late September, they were tired and beaten down. His fleet had been severely delayed and driven off course by dangerous, gale-force winds. Weeks into his invasion, William still had not reached English soil. But the bad luck proved serendipitous.
On September 8, King Harold had no choice but to release the peasant army he’d gathered to defend his kingdom. The loss greatly depleted his number, and the bad weather left the rest of the army in poor spirits.
William sets sail again
September 27 dawned bright and clear, the first day in several weeks with good weather and favorable wind. William and his army set sail on the Somme to cross into England. He landed the next morning and began marching toward destiny.
William set sail on the Somme with 700 ships and an army of thousands. The future King was accompanied by cavalry and foot soldiers, a terrifying sight when they arrived at the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066.
The battle that changed everything
William’s men had rested for several weeks before the battle, being forced to wait for the weather to clear. King Harold’s army, on the other hand, was tired and worn out from weeks on the road. Harold had to quickly move his army to meet a Norwegian threat bent on invasion. He did not rest his troops again before he marched south to meet William’s force.
The Battle of Hastings cemented William’s conquest. King Harold was fatefully killed when an arrow hit him in the eye, and his two brothers died on the battlefield alongside him. With no one left to fight for the throne, William was crowned King of England on Christmas Day, 1066.