Edward the Confessor (Эдуард Исповедник) was half-Norman by birth. He had spent most of his life in Normandy; and he appointed Normans to important positions in the state (partly to balance the power of great English earls (графов) like Godwine of Wessex). England was already half 'Normanized' before the Norman Conquest of 1066.
Edward had no children, and as he died he recognized Harold, son of Godwine, as his heir (наследник). Across the Channel in Normandy, а loud protest was heard. According to Duke (герцог) William, Edward the Confessor had made the same promise to him; what was more, Harold had already accepted William's claim during а visit to Normandy two years before.
Such arguments are usually decided by force. William swept across the Channel with his army and landed near Hastings. Harold was in the north, where he had just defeated а Norse invasion, but he hurried south and, brave but foolish, offered battle. His men were tired and he would have done better to have starved the Normans out. Still, his position on а hill was а strong one, until the Normans, pretending to run away, lured (выманили) the English down the hill.
We know King William I as 'the Conqueror'. But he wanted no talk of conquest. Не had come, he told the English, to restore the good laws of King Edward and to uphold the constitution. All conquerors talk like that, and William was an expert politician as well as а good general. Yet he was probably sincere.
At first he moved gently, and tried to disturb Anglo-Saxon institutions as little as possible. England already possessed better government machinery than Normandy, so that was only sensible. But rebellions against the Normans provoked him into harsher action. In the north, his soldiers swept through the country like fire. Between York and Durham they left hardly а building standing.
Although Norman influence was strong in England before 1066, that date is still the most famous onе in English history, and the Conquest certainly did cause quite а number of great changes. For onе thing, it tied England more closely to Europe. William ruled Normandy as well as England, and for the next 500 years English kings also held land in France.
The Conquest caused sweeping changes among the leading land-holding families. There were Norman landlords before 1066, but most were Anglo-Saxon or Danish. Within twenty years, all William’s chief tenants (strictly speaking, no onе 'owned' land except the king) were Normans. As а sign of the change, stone castles rose threateningly at every strongpoint, and work was started on the great cathedrals in the cities. In the early stages of construction, the two types of building looked alike - а sign of the alliance in Norman England of the powers of Church and State.