Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Conquest

The great battle of Senlac, or Hastings, was won. Harold, "Last of the Saxons," was dead; and William, now called the Conqueror, was ruler of England. Although he had no real claim to the crown, William took it by force, and England became his by conquest.

This battle of Hastings, fought in io66, is one of the great battles of the world, because it decided the fate of England, which was now to be ruled, not by a Saxon king chosen by the wise men of the kingdom, but by a monarch who spoke Norman French, brought new laws and customs, and meant to be absolute king.

William's wife, Queen Matilda, was so proud of his victory at Hastings that she and her women worked a wonderful piece of tapestry, sixty-eight yards long, on which the landing of William and the principal features of the battle are all represented. This wonderful piece of needlework still exists, and is known as the Bayeux tapestry.

William the Conqueror


The battle at Hastings was the only great battle which William had to fight, for the Saxons, who had been masters of England for about six hundred years, dared no longer resist him. As William advanced, the towns opened their gates to him, and he marched right on to London, where he was crowned in Westminster Abbey, on Christmas day. There were great rejoicings at his coronation, but the occasion was marred by a terrible fire, which broke out during the service and did much damage to the city.

William, having become King of England, gradually took possession of the land, which he distributed among the Normans who had come with him into England. Thus Saxon land passed into the hands of the Normans, and many of the noblest families in England now proudly claim that they "came over with the Conqueror." At court, in church, and in all the noblemen's houses, Norman French was the language spoken; but Anglo-Saxon remained the speech of the humbler people, who, for the greater part, became the servants of the Normans.

The new masters of England not only brought over a new language and new customs, but they also began to build houses in a new style. They did not think that the low, rambling, wooden houses which the Saxons and Danes had occupied were fit for noblemen; so they sent over to Normandy for workmen to teach their new servants how to build Norman castles.

As you may never have seen such a castle, I will try to make you understand how it looked. In the centre there was a huge round or square tower, built of stone, with enormously thick walls, and with only slits for windows. This tower was called the dungeon, or keep, and was generally occupied by the lord and his family. They spent most of their time in the principal apartment, called the hall.

Around the keep there was an open space, paved with stone. This was inclosed by one or more very thick walls, in which were built rooms for the servants, stables, granaries, armouries, etc. The outer wall of the castle was particularly strong, and was surmounted by a parapet and towers, where men at arms were always on guard.

Warwick Castle.


Directly under this wall there was often a deep and wide ditch, filled with water; this was called the moat. When a person wished to get into the castle, a drawbridge was lowered over the moat, and the portcullis, or iron gateway which closed the entrance to the castle, was Caesar's Tower, Warwick Castle drawn up to let him pass into the inner court.