History Timelines

British Monarchy - William the Conqueror Timeline

British Monarchy - William the Conqueror Timeline



Detailed Information

Oct 1066

William took treasury

Following the defeat of Harold at the Battle of Hastings, William made it his first priority to gain control of the English treasury. He then marched to London to crush English resistance which was gathering around Edgar Atheling, grandson of Edmund II and Saxon heir to the English throne.

Late Oct/early Nov 1066

William took London

William mounted a campaign of devastation in and around London which forced Edgar Atheling to surrender.

25 Dec 1066

Coronation of William

William, Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.


Distribution of land

William distributed land to his trusted Norman barons. He was careful to ensure that no one man was given too great an area in any given region. The estates were also scattered all over the country to easily put down any sign of rebellion against Norman rule.

1066 onwards

The feudal system

All land belonged to the crown. One quarter was treated by William as personal property and the rest was leased out under strict conditions. The country was split into manors which were given to Barons by the King. In return the Baron and his Knights had to serve on the royal Grand Council, pay various dues and provide the King with military service when required. The Baron kept as much land as he wished for his own use, then distributed the rest among his Knights who were thereby bound to meet the Baron's military needs, when either he or the King called for them. The knights in turn allocated sections of their lands to villeins (serfs) who had to provide free labour and food and service whenever, with or without warning, it was demanded.


William returns to Normandy

William returned to Normandy, leaving England in the hands of two trusted regents. The first, Odo of Bayeaux, William's half-brother who was made Earl of Kent and the greatest landowner in England. It is thought to have been Odo who commissioned the Bayeaux Tapestry. The second was William Fitz Osborn, a good friend of William's who was also granted extensive lands and the title Earl of Hereford. He was a notable castle builder.

Sept 1068

Birth of Henry I

A fourth son, Henry, was born to William and Matilda of Flanders at Selby, Yorkshire.

11 May 1068

Coronation of Queen

William's wife, Matilda, was crowned Queen consort at Westminster Abbey or in Winchester cathedral.



Tithes were introduced. Under this system, the population had to pay one-tenth of their annual increases in profit for the upkeep of the church.


William refused to allow the church power

Although William was very religious, he refused to allow church authority to be greater than his own. Some existing English Bishops were deposed and William insisted that all future church appointments should be Normans. William would allow no bishop to visit Rome or correspond with the Pope without his express permission.


Ecclesiastical/ Lay courts

William separated ecclesiastical courts from lay courts and brought many of the church's everyday functions under the authority of common law.


Devastation of the North

William's new barons grew quarrelsome. They taxed and bullied the defeated Saxons until revolt broke out all over the country. The Saxons had the backing of Malcolm Canmore, King of Scotland and Swein Estrithson, one of William's rivals for the throne. William returned from Normandy and, despite recognising the guilt of many of his Norman barons, he burned and slaughtered his way to total submission of the Saxons. Large areas of Yorkshire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire were left derelict following the brutal harrying of William's forces.


Hereward the Wake defeated.

A revolt against William by Hereward the Wake was put down. This eliminated the last major resistance to William's place on the throne.


Forest Law

William, who loved hunting, made large areas of woodland subject to Forest Law. This meant that not only the animals that lived in that specific woodland, but also the leaves on the trees belonged to the King. This law made life very difficult for those living nearby since it was now against the law for them to kill animals in the forest for food and to gather sticks for a fire.

1073- 1076

William to Normandy

Because England was now relatively secure, William spent much of this time in Normandy defending it from increasingly hostile neighbours. The main threats to Normandy were King Philip of France and Count Fulk le Rectin of Anjou.


Curthose Defects

William's son, Robert Curthose, who had never been allowed to enjoy either money or power, started working against his father.

1085- 1086

Threat of invasion

William returned to England to ward off a threatened invasion from Scandinavia.


Domesday Book

The Domesday Book was a survey of England compiled under the orders of William. It is thought to have been carried out because of a need for more money. The survey was carried out by commissioners, grouped in about eight teams that travelled from county to county. The teams were led by bishops who asked questions, under oath, of the people. Records that still exist today show that over 13,000 towns and villages were surveyed. The findings showed that over a quarter of the land belonged to William and his family, two-fifths were shared between the Barons and the church owned the remainder.

July 1087

William injured

The garrison of the French fortress of Mantes made a raid into Normandy. William retaliated and sacked Mantes, receiving the injury from which he was to die.

9 Sept 1087

William Died

William died in France from wounds received at the siege of Mantes. He left Normandy to his eldest son, Robert Curthose. He left both his sword and the English crown to his second son William. William I was buried in St Stephen's Abbey, Caen, Normandy.