The Normans were descendants of Vikings who settled in Normandy, France during the 10th century. Charles III of France gave control of the region to Viking leader Rollo and his men. In return, they were to protect France from any further Viking raids.
In time, the Normans were able to gain significant influence in England through Edward The Confessor who became English king in 1042. When Edward died, William of Normandy claimed the English throne. He was able to defeat the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson in 1066 and become the king of England the same year.
Vikings began raiding different regions in northern and western Europe from the 8th century onwards. Their repeated raiding on the French shores in Normandy resulted in many permanent Viking settlements in the region. During the 10th century, French King Charles III gave Viking leader Rollo permanent control of the region.
In return, Rollo and his men were to protect the region from any further Viking raids. Over the years, the Vikings intermarried with the Frankish population and this led to the creation of the unique Norman culture. Normans accepted the Catholic faith and blended their former pagan beliefs with Christian practices.
The Anglo-Saxon king Edward The Confessor had been brought up in Normandy while England was under the control of Danish rulers. When Edward finally returned to England in 1041 and was crowned King, he depended significantly on his influence back in Normandy. The influence of the Norman culture also resulted in Edward appointing Norman bishops and soldiers in England.
Consequently, when Edward died childless in 1066, a succession dispute ensued. Norman leader William of Normandy claimed that Edward had promised him the throne. He then led a large Norman fleet to England to contest the new Anglo-Saxon king, Harold Godwinson.
William engaged Harold’s army at Hastings in 1066. A few days before this engagement, Harold had fought and defeated Harald of Norway’s army to the north of England. William’s army was able to defeat Harold’s army at Hastings and kill Harold himself.
This was a major blow to Anglo-Saxon rule in England. Although William continued to face opposition from the English nobility, he successfully put down several rebellions. By the end of the year, William had been crowned king of England.
Even after William was crowned king, he had to face frequent uprisings in different parts of England. The earliest of these rebellions took place in Kent and Mercia. William, who had returned to Normandy in early 1067, returned to England at the end of the same year. He was able to put down the rebellions.
This was followed by 1069 uprisings in the North of England, resulting in the loss of several Norman nobles and landholdings. William consequently marched an army to the north and ended the uprisings. In 1070, he defeated a Danish threat to England. By 1072, the new French-Norman nobility effectively ruled all over England while the Anglo-Saxon nobility had been permanently deposed.