Why Was the Battle of Hastings Important?

The Battle of Hastings, fought on October 14, 1066, was important because William the Conqueror’s defeat of Anglo-Saxon King Harold II brought about the era of Norman rule in England. On December 25, 1066, shortly after his victory at Hastings, William was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey in London.

King Edward the Confessor of England had evidently first offered his cousin William the kingdom. However, at the time of his death in January 1066, he reneged on his promise and gave the throne to Harold, Earl of Wessex. William reacted by invading England with an army of 4,000 to 10,000 soldiers in September 1066. Harold marched south to meet him with about 7,000 men. They met and fought on a site near the town of Hastings. The battle lasted all day, from 9:00 a.m. until dusk. After Harold was killed, his army scattered, and the Normans prevailed. William moved on to London, where his coronation took place.

Although William expected a speedy end of hostilities, Anglo-Saxon nobility continued to rebel for several years. Eventually, though, the Normans brought the country under control. French became the official court language, and a blend of Anglo-Saxon and French evolved into the modern language of English. Historians agree that the Norman conquest brought about a profound transformation of English society.