1066 - French horsepower broke England

Peter Nicolai Arbo
5th January 1066,The English king Edward the confessor had died the 5th January 1066, and then earl Harold Godwinson was proclaimed king at  Westminster Abbey the day after the 6th.

It was a problem that the old king had promised both Harold and William "Bastard" of Normandy the seat of the throne before he died. Both men were distant relatives to the childless Edward the confessor. When William heard of it he quickly raised an army.

The infamous last viking king Harald Hardrada also claimed the English throne and he was faster than William the bastard,

8th September,1066 240-300  Viking ships landed on the beaches of Scarborough and began an attempt to gain the English throne.

20th September,1066 Battle of Fulford: Harald Hardrada defeated the northern English earls Edwin and Walther. 2 days later Harald Hardrada attacked and conquered York.
24th September,1066 Harold Godwinson arrived after marching more than 300 km from London.
25th September,1066 Battle of Stamford bridge
Battle of Stamford bridge
Harald  Hardrada went berserk at the battle of Stamford Bridge but it did not help.
Harold Godwindson won the battle against his brother Tostig and Harald Hadrada, who was both killed at Stamford Bridge.
Olav Kyrre became the new king after his father Harald Hardrada died. The English army had no time to rest it had to move quickly to South England where the Normans was expected to arrive.

Duke William of Normandy
28th September,1066  William the conqueror arrived with 700 ships at Pevensey

A sign from the sky
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle wrote that, around Easter time, “a portent such as men had never seen was seen in the heavens”. Visible for a week, it was described by some as the “long-haired star”. According to the Bayeux tapestry, this long-haired star was bad news for poor Harold Godwinson. As his compatriots look up at the comet with wonder, the English king is portrayed being warned  by a figure, presumably an astrologer, that the comet is an omen of doom. William , on the other hand, regarded it as a positive portent – though that, of course, was in retrospect.

Battle of Hastings did not take place in Hastings,the battle was fought at Senlac Hill 10km north-west of Hastings.

14th October,1066 Duke William of Normandy was nervous in the morning that he had put on his coat with the wrong side up. His men looked at him with disapproval as it was a bad day for their leader to show insecurity. 18 days before he had landed with his army on the South English coast with an impressive force of 7500 men.

The Normans scout had reported that the English army, that was commanded by Harold Godwinson had placed themselves on top of a hill only a few km away.

From the hilltop Edward Godwinson could see that the Normans moved forward in 3 columns. Harold ordered his cavalry to dismount their horses and form a living shield wall against the attackers. William replied with an archer attack on the shield wall and then he let his footmen attack. The attackers were handicapped, because they had to attack up a hill, the Norman foot soldiers were then repulsed. Also the Norman cavalry attack was repulsed. The battle fought for many hours, but the Normans had found a weakness in the English tactics. Several times units from the shield wall had stormed after the Normans, when they had to retreat down the hill.

William then ordered a group of cavalry to attack and then quickly retreat. A big group of English followed them, but suddenly the riders turned around and cut off the possibility to retreat to the shield wall. The English rashness was punished merciless all the surrounded men was killed by the knights. The Normans continued their successful tactics all over the front, and when they had killed many Englishmen, they broke the English columns and then Norman knights had a easy match against the English infantry. The English panicked and according to the Norman bishop Guy of Amiens "They stood so close that the dead could not fall" then Harold Godwinson was shot with an arrow through his eye, a Norman knight put his sword through Harold`s body, the English army totally dissolved. William now got the nickname the Conqueror. On Christmas day he was crowned king of England
A pagan Slavic rebellion broke out, the leader of the Obrotrites, Gotskalk, who was married to Sweyn Estridsons daughter Sigrid was killed. Cruelty and looting followed and church people was sacrificed on pagan altars. A last attack on Hedeby from a combined East Slavic army made the citizens finally abandon the town. The survivors moved across the Schlei inlet, which separates the two peninsulas of Angeln and Schwansen, and founded the town of Schleswig. The Saxon lords could not resist the attacks and Hamburg was also burned down.

Sweyn Estridsson made a last attempt to conquer England 3 years later with 240 ships, he managed to capture York but William the conqueror bribed the Danish leader Asbjoern and used the scorched earth tactic, and the vikings had to retreat from England.

1065 Battle of Dinan

Conan 2 vs William the bastard in the Breton-Norman war
Before the invasion of England, William the bastard of Normandy sent word to Brittany, warning them against attacking his lands, because he was backed by the Roman pope.
Conan 2 of Brittany said to William the bastard that he would take the opportunity to invade, so William's Norman army set out for battle. Outside the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, two Norman soldiers became mired in quicksand, but Harold Godwinson, at that time allied with Normans saved their lives.William the conqueror`s army chased Conan  from Dol-de-Bretagne to Rennes and the Britons finally surrendered at Château de Dinan.
William ordered the construction of ships
An unexpected ally came to Harald Godwinson. King Harold’s brother Tostig had been deprived of his earldom in Northumbria by Edward in October 1065

1064 - Peace

The Danish-Norwegian war was finally over, at Goeta river the 2 kings promised to keep the peace as long as they lived. Twelve good men secured the border between Denmark and Sweden, with 5 stones, the 6 Danish men were:
Tolli,Totti and Toki from Jutland, Gymkil from Sjaelland and Dan from Skaane and Grimtun from Halland.
Harold Godwinson shipwrecked at Ponthieu, Normandy and was taken captive by Guy I, Count of Ponthieu, who took him to his home castle of Beaurain.
Harold Godwinson swore an oath to William the conqueror
King Harold was warned by Halleys comet
Duke of Normandy, William demanded the release of the Harold Godwinson, and Count Guy delivered Harold Godwinson after being paid a ransom for him.

Harold was not released from Normandy until he too had sworn on the Holy Relics to be Duke William's vassal, and to aid him to the throne of England, this was displayed on the Bayeux Tapestry.
William had secured the border with Anjou, William was involved in a rebellion in the Duchy of Brittany. He supported Riwallon rebellion against Dol Conan II in the Breton-Norman war.
Breton-Norman war, Bayeux tapestry
Roger de Hauteville attacked Palermo.

1063 Battle of Cerami

By Prosper Lafaye - Reproduction in "Les Normands en Sicile", Antonino Buttitta
The traders from Pisa made a successful naval assault upon the Saracen controlled Palermo it was under command of Giovanni Orlandi to help of Roger of Hauteville in his conquest.
In June at the Battle of Cerami, around five miles to the west of the Norman stronghold at Triona Sicily: Roger and Serio 2 of Hauteville lead a group of 136 knights and 150 infantry Normans to defeat a much larger army of Zirid Muslims, according to a legend he won by a vision of Saint George.

The Zirids abandoned the siege of Cerami, Roger led an early cavalry charge which failed to break the Zirids, whom then counterattacked  however the Norman infantry stood their ground. St. George was said to have appeared clad in shining white armor and bearing the flag of St. George upon his lance. His speech allotted the Normans to attack again and again. Normans won a decisive victory.

1062 - Naval battle of Nisaa

Sweyn 2 Estridson and Harald Hardrada clashed in a naval battle near Nisaa, outside the coast of Halland.
After a tough battle where the famous Earl Skjalm hvide was captured by a group of men who held him with their shields, one of Skjalm Hvides Ensigns named Aslak cleared a whole ship with an oak stick
Aslak cleared a whole ship with an oak stick- Saxo made a poem

The Danes retreated and Sweyn II only survived because of a noble Norwegian chieftains help. Skjalm Hvide managed to swim away later.
Sweyn II fleeing battle of Nisaa

Skjalm Hvide swims away
Leaving in the dark

1061 - Normans captured Sicily

In January Robert de Grantmesnil, his nephew Berengar, half-sister Judith (the upcoming bride of Roger I of Sicily), and l1 monks of Saint-Evroul-sur-Ouche was banished from Normandy and traveled  to the Mezzogiorno.

The Normans assembled and army and in May 1061 they captured Messina from the Saracens. Later they captured Triona, which they used as a future headquarter. Messina was ruled by Robert Guiscard and Roger I of Sicily.

1060 - Harald Hardrada started to plunder Denmark again.

The large ship Ormen (The Serpent) was built for Harald Hardråde as a busseskip (a big, broad ship) with a gilded dragon’s head at the bow stem and a hook-shaped stern stem.
Harald Hardrada  began to plunder Denmark  again.
Denmark was split into 8 clerical units: Vendsyssel with Thy, Odense ,Viborg, Roskilde, Ribe, Aarhus, Lund and Dalby. Dalby was soon canceled and put under Lund.

Sweyn II Estridsson received  a papal letter in which he was obliged to pay peters money to the Vatican church and Anno Domini became the official time stamping which were used in official documents. The catholic church gained influence, their influence changed vigilante affirmative action and collective punishment, it became possible to pay a fine if you had done a murder. If a man became judged lawless only the king could lift the ban, this increased the monopoly of violence to the state(King).
William the Conqueror could relax he became stronger, both his enemies King Henry of France and count Geoffrey died.
In May The Normans under leadership of Robert Guiscard conquered Taranto. A Sicilian Emir of Syracuse, Ibn al-Timnah, arrived at Reggio to secure the help from Normans against his rival emir, Ibn al-Hawas. He promised that, in return al-Timnah would acknowledge their claim over Sicily.
Christian rune church inscription at Fyn Ørsted Church "Samson kills Lion"
Stenkil Rangvaldson became king of Sweden he ruled until 1066. The last of the Uppsala dynasty  Emund died, Stenkil came from Western Gotaland, and he created a bishopric among the Swedes in Sigtuna. Later the bishop was driven out, a strong pagan culture was still strong in Uppland.

1059 Normans gained papal rights to Sicily

Early Norman Castle
The Concordat of Melfi was signed on 23 August 1059 between Pope Nicholas II and the Normans  Robert Guiscard & Richard I of Capua. The Pope recognized the Norman conquest of Southern Italy and he recognized Robert Guiscard as Duke of Apulia and Calabria, and as the Count of Sicily.

1058 Aelfgar caused trouble

Banner with the Wessex dragon
Earl Aelfgar of Mercia was again banned from Mercia, and again he hired Scandinavian forces and asked King Gruffudd to successfully assisted him in regaining his lost earldom.
June Richard Norman adventurer captured conquered Capua, a small Lombard principality.He Became Count of Aversa and prince of Capua.

1057 Battle of Varaille

Norman horseman against two foot soldiers
Henry the king of France ordered the dukedom of Normandy to be invaded. He and Geoffrey Martel of Anjou joined forces in Angers. Their army marched towards Caen . To reach Caen, they had to cross the Dives marshlands, which are flooded at this time of year. So, while they made their way to the only possible route between Varaville and Périers, William was already waiting in ambush in the Bavent woods, with his men and loyal peasants from the surrounding area.

Normans blocked a passageway and made the French only available passage was via the wooden bridge over the River Dives, which collapsed under the weight of them horses and carts all plummeted into the waters. They began to cross the river but when the tide came in, the process had only been half completed, leaving the army split in two parts. William the conqueror seized the opportunity and attacked the half of the invading army that had not yet crossed and won the battle.
It happened on the 22th of March.

1056 Gruffydd attacked again with Viking mercenaries

Normans attacking Castle
King Gruffydd aided by viking mercenaries attacked into Herefordshire  and during a battle on the 16th of june the bishop Leofgar and many Anglo-Saxons was killed by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn at Glasbury-on-Wye. Earl Harold Godwinsson once again responded to the threat, repulsing the vikings, and again the Welsh king Gruffydd swore allegiance to the Anglo-Saxon king.
The first bishopric was established at Skálholt in Southern Iceland. Isleif was a native Icelander, when he died in 1082 he was followed by his son Gislur.
William the Conqueror had a third son, William Rufus who later became king of England

1055 Ralph the timid lost

Earl Aelfgar of Mercia, after being exiled from England, came to King Gruffydd ap Llywellyn of Gwynedd with 18 longships full of Viking mercenaries. Gruffydd married the earl Aelfgar`s daughter, and assembled a Welsh army to supplement Aelfgar's army. Together the armies invaded Herefordshire and on 24th October defeated Earl Ralph the timid (aka Ralf of Mantes), It was later claimed that Ralph and his Frenchmen were the first one to chicken out, which resulted in his nickname, The Timid, the attackers razed Hereford and despoiled the relics of King Ethelbert which had been housed there at the local church.

King Edward of England responded by appointing Earl Harold Godwinson to solve the threat. The Welsh chickened into South Wales, and Harold Godwinson eventually negotiated a peace with them at Bilingsley near Boulston in Archenfield, which resulted in Aelfgar's restoration of his earldom and Gruffydd ap Llywellyn of Gwynedd had to become king Edward the confessor's loyal vassal.

1054 Normans defeated the French at Battle of Mortemer

Normandy One French army commanded by Odo, brother to the king Henry I of France, came from France along with troops led by Rainald, Count of Cleremont and Guy, Count of Ponthieu. The army entered Evreux and began looting.

While Duke William the bastard was busy with king Henry I of France to the west of the Seine River, a force of Norman barons led by Robert, Count of Eu, Hugh of Gournay, Walter Giffard, Roger of Mortemer, and William de Warenne came out of their own lands to stop the French looters.

The French force was widely scattered and was an easy target for the Norman forces of Robert, Count of Eu. The battle of Mortemer lasted for hours, but the French were defeatedt with heavy losses. Guy, Count of Ponthieu was taken as a prisoner during the the battle.When news of the defeat got to the French King he decided to withdraw.

Map of Duchy of Normandy
After the defeats of 1052-1054 the rebellious Norman lords were exiled, the lands of the Counts of Pointhieu were confiscated, and Guy, Count of Ponthieu became a vassal to William the Bastard after two years in a dungeon.
Normans at sea

William de Warenne was later rewarded with lands confiscated from his uncle, Roger of Mortemer,(whom broke a treaty with William the bastard) including the Castle of Mortimer and surrounding lands.William the bastard had a second son named Richard after his uncle.

February 20 – Yaroslav the Wise, prince of  the Kievan Rus and a descendant of Rus vikings died.

1053 - Sweyn Estridson was forced to divorce

Painting made by Lorentz Frølich
The ambitious archbishop of Hamburg/Bremen Adalbert was announced as papal delegate and the right to elect a bishop in Scandinavia.This was a defeat for Sweyn Estridsons church policy which wanted to start a Danish Archbishopric. Also in his private life Sweyn crashed with Adalbert, who demanded that Svein should divorce his wife Gunhild, because they were to closely related to receive the blessings of the church. Sweyn answered with a furious rage that he would plunder and burn down Hamburg, but he had to accept it because pope Leo 9 supported Adalbert.
Viking woman
Cross of Gunhild made of Walrus tooth an inscription tells who it belonged to

Gunhild was widow of Anund Jakob and the half cousin of Svend. Gunhild might had pushed for the divorce herself, as Svein was known to have many affairs. Sweyn Estridson celebrated Easter in Merseburg as a guest of the German emperor Heinrich 3.
On the 15 April Godwin, the earl of Wessex died suddenly, after collapsing during a royal banquet at Winchester.
Edward the confessor ordered the assassination of Welsh prince Rhys ap Rhydderch in reprisal for an attack on England, and Rhys's head was delivered the King.

June 18 :At the Battle of Civitella del Fortore 3,000 Norman knights under command of Humphrey of Hauteville won a battle against a coalition of the Pope Leo 9 and the Holy Roman Emperor.

1052 Battle of Llanllieni

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a raid by Gruffudd ap Llywelyn on Leominster in 1052 resulted in the Battle of Llanllieni, between the Welsh and a combined force of Norman mercenaries and English Saxon. The Welsh won.

Source: Gwynfor Evans (1974). Land of My Fathers: 2000 Years of Welsh History. Y Lolfa. page 156. ISBN 9780862432652

1051 William of Normandy became stronger

William the conqueror
Godwin,the Earl of Wessex, was thrown out of England by King Edward the Confessor for refusing to take action against the townspeople of Dover, who violently clash with the visiting Norman Eustace II, Count of Boulogne,
William the bastard, later called the conqueror captured the Bellême family strongholds at Alençon and Domfor.

1050 - Hedeby burned down to the ground

Viking Woman statue
Harald Hardrada plundered Scania and coastal areas of Denmark and he reached the eastern coast of Jutland, attacked Aarhus and he burned Hedeby by sending fireships into the harbor. An archaeological underwater excavation later discovered 2 of these hulks at the bottom of the Schlei.
In the following years, Sweyn Estridsson began building an earthwork parallel to the Connecting Work at Danewall.
560 Coins were found at Haagerup, Fyn in 1943 by Kaj Arne Frederiksen they were probably dug down and hidden so Harald Hardrada and his Norwegian looters could not get the treasure.

Swedish vikings attacked Finland.
A bishop was accepted in Orkney.
Anund Jacob, ruler since 1022 died and his brother Edmund the Old became the new king of Sweden, he ruled until 1060. Sweyn Estridsson married Anund Jacobs wife, Gunhild, he got a huge dowry, and was now a wealthy man.

1049 Viking raiders attacked Wales

Baldúin of Flanders-signet found at Laeborg the army road
Emperor Henry 3 attacked Balduin of Flanders with help from Sweyn Estridsson. Sweyn wowed faithfulness to the German emperor Henry 3 and got his share of the looting of Flanders
Vikings from Ireland became allied with Gruffydd ap Rhydderch the king of Gwent in raiding along the River Usk. Ealdred, the Bishop of Worcester, was unsuccessful in his attempt to stop the vikings.
Count Balduin 4 of Flanders

1048 - Harald Hardrada plundered Denmark

Harald Hardrada
With a Norwegian fleet Harald Hardrada plundered the coasts of Jutland, he did not try to conquer land, but the population of Jutland suffered very hard under his cruel behavior.
A failed Viking raid on England made the unsuccessful raiders flee to Flanders.

1047 Sweyn Estridsson was proclaimed king of Denmark

Sweyn II Estridsson 1019-1074
King Magnus the good died 25 October in a riding accident, and at Viborg thing, Sweyn II Estridsson was proclaimed king of Denmark.
Harald Hardrada inherited the kingdom of Norway and took the dead body of his uncle Magnus back to Nidaros, Trondhiem.An old story told that Magnus testamented the throne to Sweyn Estridsson.
August 10: Battle of Val-ès-Dunes: William the conqueror, Duke of Normandy, with help from King Henry I of France, reestablished control of his Duchy by defeating a group of rebel Norman barons at Caen.
Vikings fought vs Crescono,Bishop of Santiago de Compostela until 1066.

1046 - Sweyn Estridson continued his struggle

Viking axehead
Sweyn Estridson and Harald Hardrada tried to establish an army to overthrow Magnus. But soon after Harald Hardrada made peace with Magnus, he had the viking mentality of always supporting the strongest side and Svein Estridson was the weakest and known for bad war luck. Magnus gave Harald Hardrada part in his kingdom in return for half of the share in Harald Hardradas Byzantine treasure. Svein did not like Harald Hardradas tradition for plundering and murder, because it was a way to gain unpopularity. Sweyn Estridson continued his struggle weakened.
Viking Jewel
An inheritance rebellion against William the Conqueror started with  an ambush near Valognes on the Cotentin Peninsula, but the rebels failed. The noble rebels were Gui of Burgundy, Nigel of the Cotentin, Rannulf of the Bessin, Ralph Tesson of Thury, Grimoald of Plessis, and Haimo of Creully, they raised an army of 25000 men.

The rebels tried to capture William the Conqueror but he escaped the ambush, he rode directly to King Henry's royal court in Poissy, and begged the king for help and claimed that a revolt against a loyal duke vassal was a revolt against the king himself. The king of France, Henry raised an army of 10,000 men.

Orkney Islands
Ragnvald sneak-attacked Thorfinn the mighty’s longhouse by night and set fire to it. Only a few survived, but among them was Thorfinn the mighty, who cut his way through the wall and ran out into the night, with his wife in his arms. Ragnvald settled down as ruler of the Orkney Islands.
During Yuletide Thorfinn the mighty came back and attacked the longhouse and killed Ragnvald.