911: The Frankish Carolingian King, Charles the Simple, grants the city of Rouen and surrounding lands to the Viking leader Rollo and his followers. Over the next century Rollo’s successors, calling themselves Dukes, established their supremacy in Normandy. Although quite extensive Viking settlement had occurred it did not take long for French culture to consume the Normans as the Normans had reflected by their use of the French language, their politics and their social structures.
1027-35: Reign of Duke Robert of Normandy. Upon his death the illegitimate child of a relationship between the duke and a Falaise tanner becomes duke, aged only seven or eight years old (William). There then ensue years of violence as high profile Lords and nobles gained control of both ducal and local office, notably that of the Vicomte, the Duke’s chief local agent. The nobles also seized monastic land interfering in what up to then had been a ducal monopoly. The nobility founded monasteries of their own which increased their power and prestige.
- Edward the Confessor abolishes the highly unpopular army geld system.
- Edward allegedly promises the throne of England to William of Normandy.
1062: William invades Maine and wrests it from the count of Anjou.
- William leads a punitive expedition in Brittany where he gains some of the expertise he would put to good use in the invasion of England.
- Harold is shipwrecked in Normandy after a failed diplomatic mission. It is alleged that Harold swore over the bones of dead saints to accept William’s claim to succeed to the throne.
1065: Harold condones (perhaps encourages) rebellion against his brother Tostig in Northumbria in the North, hence removing a potential rival. He then conciliated the north and made alliance with the only family matching his wealth or importance, that of Edwin, Earl of Mercia, and his brother Morcar who succeeded Tostig in the North.
- January – Death of Edward the Confessor.
- September – Tostig had thrown in his lot with the King of Norway (Harold Hardrada) and the Norwegian King set sail to York and did battle with Edwin and Morcar, who were easily defeated at the Battle of Fulford Gate.
- 25 September - Battle of Stamford Bridge. King Harold rushes north and surprises and kills both Tostig and Harold Hardrada in the battle.
- 27 September – The Norman army embarked at St-Valery-sur-Somme in Ponthieu and next morning landed at Pevensey in England.
- 14 October – William managed to draw Harold south to Hastings without his allies Morcar and Edwin and with only half his army, according to John of Worcester. The battle occurred six miles north west of Hastings and Harold had assembled his force on foot in a solid shield wall about a quarter mile broad and half a mile deep overlooking a little valley. William had to drive his cavalry and infantry up a steep little hill simply to reach Harold’s ranks. Soon a contingent of Breton foot gave way in William’s army and rumours spread amongst the Norman’s that William was dead. This was the climax of the battle and William was its equal. According to the Bayeux Tapestry William removes his helmet to reveal his face and gallops down his lines to inspire his men. Throughout the battle he had far more command and control than Harold who wedged in his shield wall was invisible within a few feet of his standard. The English had no cavalry and this would prove to be a fatal error. Once the Bretons had given way and panic had spread through the Norman ranks, the moment had come for a cavalry charge to sweep down the hill and sweep all before it. As it was the English charged on foot and were cut off by Norman cavalry. The Normans feared this foot charge so little that twice they feigned retreat in order to catch the English in this cut off tactic. As the day wore on the English numbers dwindled and the Norman cavalry established themselves on the plateau and broke into the shield wall. They killed Harold’s brother Gyrth and Leofwine, then Harold’s immediate bodyguard and then at last they cornered Harold himself, already wounded by an arrow in the head, and struck him down.
- Early December – Archbishops Stigand and Ealdred, earls Edwin and Morcar and the townsmen of London rejected William’s demand for submission and nominated Edgar Aetheling, who was with them, as King. Early in December William began encircling the city, pillaging as he went. When William reached Wallingford Archbishop Stigand came to him and swore allegiance; he was followed at Berkhampstead by Archbishop Ealdred, Bishop Wulfstan of Worcester and Edgar himself, as well as by Edwin and Morcar, with citizens of London and many others.
- Christmas Day – William is crowned King in Westminster Abbey.
May 1068: Coronation of William’s wife, Matilda.
- Trouble in the North. Earls Morcar, Waltheof and Gospatric rebel against William. Edgar Aetheling, with support from King Malcolm of Scotland renews his claims to the throne of England.
- Early 1069 – Aetheling attacks York and is chosen king by its inhabitants.
- Autumn 1069 – A great fleet is sent by Sven Esthrison, King of Denmark (1047-76), a Nephew of King Knut, enters the Humbar and joins up with the Aetheling.
- 21 September 1069 – The Danish fleet and Aetheling’s forces defeat and capture Williams Sheriff of York and seized the city. Meanwhile Exeter and Shrewsbury were also attacked.
- Christmas Day 1069 – Ignoring a rebellion in Maine, William rides North to England wearing his crown, a symbolic gesture. The Danes were bought off and Aetheling retired to Scotland.
- Winter 1070 - William did not finish at this and led his troops on an extraordinary Winter march across the Pennines, fell upon the Shrewsbury rebels, built castles at Chester and Stafford, ravaged the surrounding areas and was back at Wincester in time for Easter.
- Edwin and Morcar escaped from court. Edwin was trapped and killed but Morcar fled to the isle of Ely where he joined up with a Lincolnshire Thegn, Hereward.
- October - King William invests the island and Morcar gives up, ending his life as a prisoner. Hereward escaped.
1074: Aetheling recognises Norman conquest of England.
1100: The Normans build roughly 500 castles in England by this time.