|The Anglo-Norman Territories|
|1066 and the Conquest of England|
On becoming King of England in January 1066 Harold II prepared his country's defences for war, undaunted by the ill-omened appearance in the sky of Halley's Comet. At the core of the army Harold and his earls had highly-trained warriors from their own households. In addition, Harold had a large fleet of ships which in May 1066 repelled a raid on the south coast by his embittered brother Tostig. England had no castles, but there were fortified towns and other strong points including a number of Roman forts. The first serious challenge to Harold's rule came from King Harald Hardrada of Norway who, in September 1066, allied with Tostig, sailed 300 ships up the River Humber. The Norsemen defeated an English army at Fulford outside York, but a few days later King Harold arrived to defeat Harald Hardrada at Stamford Bridge leaving both him and Tostig dead. No sooner was Harold victorious, however, than he heard of Duke William of Normandy's landing some 400km away on the south coast and hastened to meet him.
William had raised a substantial army in Normandy which embarked on 27th September and landed near Hastings. At the battle of Hastings on 14th October William was victorious and Harold was killed. After his victory William made for London and was crowned king on Christmas Day. William ruthlessly replaced the English aristocracy by his own men and his forces controlled England by building castles at strategically important places. The most serious opposition to William came in 1069 when a rebellion centred on York was supported by a Danish army. Unrest in the north provided an opportunity for the King of Scotland to raid England, but he was forced to submit to William in 1072.