The History of the British Monarchy
By: Maya Ross
The British monarchy has been around for centuries dating back to Wiliam the Conqueror in the early 10th century. But before that, he was the duke of Normandy which was a northern province in France. This piece of land was given to Vikings, or “Normans”, by the King of the Franks. While the Normans conformed to the culture of the King of Franks, they nevertheless respected the martial spirit.
In 1066, William challenged the powers of the new English king, Harold Godwinson. This sparked an epic conflict in which William and his knights arrived in England and clashed with Harold’s army near Hastings. The English army consisted mainly of troops and a few archers. The Norman Calvary was first unable to break through a shield-made barricade on top of a hill. The battle’s culmination is shown in a 70-meter-long Bayeux Tapestry, where an arrow striking Harold in the eye secures the Norman triumph. His death caused the English army to flee. Thus, William was victorious and crowned himself King of England.
The Tapestry depicting the Battle of Hasting
He was referred to as “William the Conqueror” through a huge book known as the Doomsday Book. It recorded the population and ownership of every piece of land in England. This record is still preserved in the National Archives in London. He also oversaw the construction of several fortresses, keeps, and mottes around England, notably the Tower of London, to ensure that rebellions by the English or his followers failed. Norman’s conquest also led to English being used as the ruling class’s vernacular for roughly 300 years. Though most of the royal family are descendants of William, there are centuries of history that relate them to other major figures.