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Jim Knell and Elliott Weinberg

The year 1066 saw the rise and fall of many extraordinary, awful, or clearly deranged people and nations. There were conquerors, explorers, kings, slaves, and all types of people that made the year one to remember, fondly or otherwise. The most influential people have shined and the villains that have been suppressed have had their share of the spotlight too. Certain people have, most definitely, made the year of 1066 a very significant point in time for all of those involved. An individual who made his mark on the world in this past year was a man by the name of William. This complex man became the victim of mistaken identity, having been William I King of England, William II Duke of Normandy, and referred to as “William the Conqueror”. Throughout his royal life, beginning around age seven when he took the throne of Normandy, William slashed his way through Europe and securing his place as one of the Greats of 1066. What made 1066 such an astounding year for William were a few very prestigious events. William’s claim to fame was the Norman Conquest and, more specifically, the Battle of Hastings, which is examined more indepth in the later pages of this magazine.

The year also saw the coronation of William as the new King of England following the events that transpired at Wallingford. He was crowed on Christmas Day. He claimed that all of the land then belonged to him but allowed powerful people who had not previously opposed him to take their land back as a grant from William. Following William’s rise to the throne came rebellions from both Normandy and England. William had to travel to and fro between the two countries to maintain some level of order. William’s half brother, Odo, was appointed to the position of Deputy of England and helped to keep the peace. William, son of Robert, showed the true potential of a man and exemplified how to establish a presence in society. 1066 was a great year for William the Conqueror.

Harold Godwinson was another prominent figure in 1066 and also the adversary of William the Conqueror. He also gained fame by participating in the Battle of Hastings, though he is a more notorious character than William because he was the loser of the battle. England lost its kingdom to William’s forces and Harold lost his life. Even though King Harold’s reign was brief he still impacted the year 1066. He kept the government stable which was very hard, taking into account the circumstances of wars raging and discrepancies flaring up. King Harold was a very capable and versatile field commander and his traits rubbed off onto his soldiers. The two factors that make King Harold such a memorable character is that he was the last English monarch to be defeated by a foreign invader and the last of all of the Anglo-Saxon kings. Harold’s memory lives on, and even though he was not one of the “greats” he was still a beneficial part of 1066.

Another man of great stature from 1066 was Magnus II of Norway, son of Harald III of Norway. 1066 was a promising year for Magnus. The two main events that happened in Magnus’s life in that year coincided with each other. Magnus’s father left for a fatal journey to conquer England. Sensing the precarious situation he was putting himself in Harald made the decision to have Magnus a temporary replacement while he was away. But since Harald did not return Magnus became King of Norway. Olaf, Magnus’s brother returned from the journey and claimed his portion of the kingdom Magnus now owned as his own private property. This established a precedence of the allocations of parts of land in Norway to heirs and sons.

The people of 1066 may not have influenced a great change in the world or done things that were spectacular and made something new happen. They did not destroy the world though, either, and the ways that some people just kept order was something to be remembered for. Each person has their own story and finding it is the allure of history.

The year 1066 was chockfull of important events. The first of these events was the Battle of Hastings, 1066. This specific event took place on October 14 of 1066. This battle is referred as "The battle that changed History". It was given this name because of the impact it had on the Saxon people. This battle changed the culture, their country, and the way they were looked upon from the rest of the world. The battle started out with William, the Duke of Normandy, invading the beach of Pevensey. He had about 7,000 troops with him at the time. This took King Harold by surprise and the Saxons were cut down in less than ten hours. The leader of the Normans, William, was crowned king of England, Christmas Day, in the year 1066. This war brought over the French language to northwestern Europe. The 300 year old dialect was overtaken when the Anglo-Saxons were defeated. Another thing that came out of this war was the introduction of the feudal system to England. Another event that happened was the eighteenth recorded sighting of Halley's Comet. This Comet only passes by every seventy five to seventy six years. The first sighting was in 240 BC.

Another special event that happened in 1066 was the battle at Fulford. The village of Fulford is near York in England. King Harold the third and the English forces fought and defeated the Northern Earls Edwin and Morcar. When Edward the confessor, who was the King of the Anglo-Saxons, died he left the throne to Earl Godwinson. Tostig, who is Harold’s brother made a pact with Harold Hadrada, who was the King of Norway. The English army struck the Norwegian army before they could even get fully deployed. The Norwegian army was surprised at this moved but just put their best troops to counter that move. The Anglo-Saxons lost because they lost too much ground which opened up ways where the Norwegians could get through. Even though the Anglo-Saxons were defeated Edwin and Mocar managed to escape unharmed.

The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place on the 25th of September, 1066. This battle was between King Harold Godwinson and the English fighting against Harold Hadrada and the Norwegian forces. This battle was thought of the end of the Viking age. Harold Godwinson’s brother Tostig fought and was killed in this battle. The English forces succeeded to fend off the Norwegian forces long enough to win the battle. Less than three weeks later the English were cut down by the Norwegian forces in the Battle of Hastings. The Battle of Stamford Bridge marked the end of the Anglo-Saxon era. Once a strong Empire was now cut down completely. During this battle the Vikings were so disorganized that they did not even have their armor on when the English started arriving. When the whole English army arrived the whole west side reinforcements for the Vikings were either dead or fleeing. There was a tale about a giant Norse axe man who blocked the bridge from the whole English army until he was killed by a spear that had been thrown from under the bridge by an Englishman floating on a barrel. The Norse army built a wall of soldiers to hold off the Englishmen. Tostig and Hadrada were both killed in this battle because their army did not hold up against the English steel. The Norse reinforcements were so tired trying to get to the battlefield that they got cut down when they got there. There were only 300 men alive and 24 ships still intact for the Norsemen. A monument was built for this epic battle and is in the village of Stamford Bridge.

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1066 In Review  

Western Civ Project on the year 1066 imprortant people and events.