Norse horsemen fight Anglo-Saxon soldiers at the Battle of Hastings, England, in 1066.
Painting by Birney Lettick, National Geographic

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    On October 14, 1066, Duke William of Normandy ended the Anglo-Saxon period in British history with his victory at the Battle of Hastings, England. This battle is so pivotal in the history of Western Civilization that the year “1066” is often used to refer to the event, and the victor’s nickname has gone down in history as “William the Conqueror.”
    William was the leader of Normandy, a region in northwest France with cultural ties to the island kingdoms of Great Britain just across the English Channel. In fact, William had previously met and corresponded with Harold Godwinson, the English king his forces confronted and killed at the Battle of Hastings.
    The Norman conquest of England had long-lasting consequences. After crowning himself king in December, William (now William I of England) immediately began to replace almost all English landowners and religious leaders with his own supporters from France. Thousands of displaced English families relocated to Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia, and even what is today Turkey. William then organized the first census of his kingdom, known as the Domesday Book. The Domesday Book recorded the property and resources owned by almost every person in England and parts of Wales. This census allowed William to assess the financial, military, and cultural value of the kingdom, as well as estimate the taxes he could charge his new subjects.
    Perhaps the most long-lasting consequence of the Norman conquest is the emergence of the modern English language. Prior to the invasion, English kings spoke an Anglo-Saxon dialect now known as Old English. William introduced Anglo-Norman, now known as Old French, as the language spoken at court, a tradition that would last hundreds of years. The blending of Anglo-Saxon and French would lead to the development of Middle English and modern English.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Anglo-Saxon Adjective

    having to do with England or Great Britain before the Norman invasion in 1066.

    assess Verb

    to evaluate or determine the amount of.

    calculate Verb

    to reach a conclusion by mathematical or logical methods.

    census Noun

    program of a nation, state, or other region that counts the population and usually gives its characteristics, such as age and gender.

    Encyclopedic Entry: census
    confront Verb

    to address a problem or person directly.

    conquest Noun


    correspond Verb

    to match or be similar to.

    court Noun

    monarch or other noble person and the group of people who serve, advise, and consult with them, or the place where this group meets.

    defeat Verb

    to overcome an enemy or obstacle.

    dialect Noun

    distinct variation of a language, usually marked by accents and grammar.

    displace Verb

    to remove or force to evacuate.

    Domesday Book Noun

    (1086) census and survey of England, noting ownership of land and assets.

    duke Noun

    among British nobility, a man with the highest rank outside the royal family.

    emerge Verb

    to develop or come into view.

    estimate Verb

    to guess based on knowledge of the situation or object.

    financial Adjective

    having to do with money.

    immediately Adverb

    at once or quickly.

    introduce Verb

    to create, begin, or make an idea known for the first time.

    invasion Noun

    an attack or move to take possession.

    kingdom Noun

    type of government with a king or queen as its leader, or the land ruled by that king or queen.

    Encyclopedic Entry: kingdom
    language Noun

    set of sounds, gestures, or symbols that allows people to communicate.

    migrate Verb

    to move from one place or activity to another.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    organize Verb

    to coordinate and give structure to.

    perhaps Adverb


    pivotal Adjective

    very important or crucial point.

    previous Adjective

    earlier, or the one before.

    prior Adjective

    before or ahead of.

    property Noun

    goods or materials (including land) owned by someone.

    region Noun

    any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    relocate Verb

    to move a residence or business from one place to another.

    resource Noun

    available supply of materials, goods, or services. Resources can be natural or human.

    Scandinavia Noun

    region and name for some countries in Northern Europe: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark.

    subject Noun

    person under the authority of a monarch or other powerful ruler.

    tax Noun

    money or goods citizens provide to government in return for public services such as military protection.

    tradition Noun

    beliefs, customs, and cultural characteristics handed down from one generation to the next.

    victory Noun

    success or triumph.

    Western Civilization Noun

    civilizations of European origin.