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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, ColoradoRise of Nation State England

Rise of Nation State England
-
Bayeaux / Buyou Tapestry -
William the Conqueror, Edward the Confessor, Harold II



The Bayeaux Tapestry

The Tale of William the Conqueror
The Bayeaux Tapestry is a long strip of tapestry, made over 900 years ago. There are 72 pictures that show how Duke William of Normandy conquered England in 1066. Show are men feasting, hunting, fighting and dying, castles and ships being built, and action-packed battle scenes. The Bayeaux Tapestry was ordered to be built by Bishop Odo of Bayeaux.

The hero of the story, William "the Conqueror," was descended from Rollo the Viking. His army was the very last to invade and conquer England. The year, 1066, is the English date to remember.


Rivals for the Crown

Edward the Confessor (1042 - 1066)
King Edward of England lay dying in his London palace. Edward was a shy, peace-loving man. (Kind of like our contemporary Jimmy Carter.) Edward lacked the necessary firmness to keep control of his powerful nobles. During the later years of his reign, he became more religious, spending many hours praying and confessing his sins. To his subjects, Edward later became known as "the confessor."

Edward the Confessor on his deathbed, Bayeux Tapestry
Edward the Confessor on his deathbed, a double-panel from the Bayeux Tapestry.
Click the scene to view the entire Bayeux tapestry with English captions.

The King's council gathered in London for the Christmas court on 1065. But, the festivities were overshadowed by Edward's illness and the big question: Who was to be the next king? Edward had been married for 20 years, but had no children.

Today we have laws to decide who will be king or queen. When a ruler dies, the crown passes automatically to the next in succession. But, 900 years ago there were no hard and fast rules.


Harold II, King of the English (1066)
Harold Hardrada was a powerful king of Norway. Before Edward the Confessor's reign, England had been ruled by the Viking kings, Cnut and his sons. Hardrada claimed that he was the rightful heir to the throne.

Harold Godwinson, King Harold II
Harold Godwinson, later King Harold II is shown swearing an oath to
William, duke of Normandy, later William the Conqueror.
Click the scene to view the entire Bayeux tapestry with English captions.

It seemed certain that England would soon be invaded by the King of Norway. Edward, on his deathbed, had named Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, as his successor. Harold was now the commander of Edward's army. No one doubted Harold's courage and ability as a soldier.

King Harold II, Bayeux Tapestry
King Harold II is shown holding a palm (or scepter) and an orb. An attendant offers
him a sword. Stigad, the archbishop of Canterbury, stands to one side.
Click the scene to view the entire Bayeux tapestry with English captions.

Finally, Harold was confirmed as King. When the news of this reached Duke William in Normandy, he flew into a rage. He claimed that Edward had promised the crown to him some years before. This was probably true. Edward had grown up in Normandy, under the care of William's father.


Why did the Confessor fail to keep his word?
He must have realized that the English nobles would not accept a foreign duke as their king. The Bayeaux tapestry shows Harold being sent on some kind of mission by King Edward. He landed on the Normandy coast where, to his surprise, he was arrested by the local count, before being handed over to William. The tapestry shows Harold taking a sacred oath to support the Duke.

In April 1066, a comet appeared in the sky and shone bright every night for a week. The Anglo-Saxon Chronical states: all over England there was seen in the heavens such a sign as men had never seen before. We call it Halley's comet; it shows up every 75 years. Englishmen thought it was a sign from God warning of trouble ahead.

(Students read handout "the Battle at Hastings." Students: What is the significance of the arrow in Harold's eye shown in the Bayeaux tapestry?)


William the Conqueror (1066 - 1087)
On Christmas day 1066, William was crowned king at Westminster Abbey.

King William INorman warriors at sea
Left: King William I is shown receiving a copy of the Deeds of the Norman Dukes.
Right: An illuminated manuscript shows Norman warriors ready for battle at sea.

King William IPenny of William I
Left: William I bearing the royal arms is shown riding with his soldiers.
Right: Silver penny of King William I.

Four Norman Kings of England
The four Norman kings of England: William I, William II, Henry I, and Stephen
from Matthew Paris's 13th-century Greater Chronicle.
(It is unlikely that these are realistic portraits)

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Mr. Sedivy's Lecture Notes & Historical Info

The Celts
| Gallic He-Men | Celtic Culture, Trade, Religion, Women |
| Threat of the Celts - Celtic Battles and Conquests |

- Rise of Nation State England -
| Roman Conquest of Britain | Christianity in Britain |
| Customs: Thanes, Churls, Thralls, Wergeld, Folk-Moot |
| Dark Ages: Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder, Athelstan |
| The Return of the Vikings |
| Kings of Britain: Aethelred, Cnut, Edward the Confessor |
| Bayeaux Tapestry, William the Conqueror,
Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson, Harold II
|
| The Crusades: Richard Lion Heart, Pope Urban |
| King John, Innocent III, Archbishop Stephen Langton |
| Magna Carta / First Parliament |

Wales and Scotland
| Wales: Edward I, Llewellyn, Snowdonia |
| Scotland: Alexander III, John Balliol,
William Wallace, Robert Bruce, King Edward II
|

The 100 Years War
| Edward III, Longbows at Crecy, Edward IV, Black Prince |
| Henry V, King Charles VI, Battle at Calais, Treaty of Troyes |

More Information
| Other Kings of the Dark and Middle Ages:
William II, Henry I, Henry II
|
| The British Monarchy's Peerage: Dukes, Viscounts,
Marquess, Earls, Baronets, and Barons
|

Class Activities
Roman Conquest Comparison
Battle of Agincourt

Related Information
Mr. Sedivy's World History - The Middle Ages
The Complete Bayeux Tapestry
Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages / Crusades
The Hundred Years War
King Henry VIII
The Interesting Life of Elizabeth I
The Stuarts - James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II
Oliver Cromwell

 

   
 

Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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