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Why was the Battle of Hastings fought?

William the ConquerorWilliam the ConquerorThe Battle of Hastings was fought in October 1066 between the armies led by Harold II, King of England and William, Duke of Normandy. William invaded England to claim the crown which he believed was rightfully his. The Norman forces overwhelmed the English troops at the battle. Harold was killed. England now fell under Norman rule, ruled by William, now William I, also known as William the Conqueror.

 


Harold gives his promise to WilliamHarold gives his promise to William

The promised crown

In 1051 the Saxon king of England, Edward the Confessor, who had no children, promised the crown of England to William—according to William. Harold Godwinson, Edward's brother-in-law and the most powerful noble in the country, had sworn to William to honour this.

But Harold later claimed that Edward, on his deathbed, had changed his mind and made him heir over William. Harold was crowned king at Westminster Abbey. He became King Harold II.

William's boats arrive in southern EnglandWilliam's boats arrive in southern England
Enraged by this turn of events, William decided to launch an invasion of England to gain the crown by force. He took seven months to prepare his invasion army. He used about 600 ships to carry around 7000 men, including up to 3000 cavalry, across the English Channel.

The Battle of Hastings was fought around Senlac Hill, about 10 kilometres (6 miles) north of Hastings. An abbey was built on the spot to commemorate the battle. The town of Battle grew up around it.

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