William the Conqueror
Also known as William of Normandy and William the Bastard, King William I of England was the illegitimate son of Duke Robert of Normandy, France. Though his blood claim to the throne of England was slim, he set his sights on the land once governed by his cousin, Edward the Confessor, and claimed the old king had named him his heir. In October of 1066, William the Conqueror successfully invaded England and defeated Harold Godwinson to win the crown.
As King of England William initiated or oversaw numerous changes, including an extensive plan of castle-building and a more rigidly structured system of feudal government than England had previously known. The Anglo-Saxon population was ruled primarily by William's Norman comrades, resulting in a gulf between two classes that took centuries to shrink.
One of King William's most significant acts was to comission the Domesday Survey, which catalogued the population of England and to this day serves as useful data for the historian. William also ordered the building of the Tower of London and Battle Abbey.
Medieval & Renaissance Monarchs of England
Use this table to see the progression of Kings and Queens from Egbert of Wessex in the ninth century to Elizabeth I in the sixteenth. Hyperlinks lead to entries in Who's Who.
From Your Guide
This four-part examination of the events leading up to the Norman Conquest, the invasion itself, and its aftermath includes background on the various claimants to the throne.
William the Conqueror
We have no contemporary images of William, but we do have the vision of a 17th-century artist that may be based on period description. This public-domain graphic from the 1906 publication Makers of History is free for your use. Part of the Medieval and Renaissance History Portrait Gallery here at this site.
On the Web
An index of sites offering background on events leading to the invasion, the invasion itself, its aftermath, and the people involved.
Who's Who Directories
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