The Coronation of William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror, also known as William the Brutal or William of Normandy was crowned King of England on Christmas Day in 1066. How William, an illegitimate Prince from France became king of England by the age of 38 was rather remarkable. But also showed his brutality and determination to succeed. After winning the final battle at Hastings in October 1066, with the death of William’s quarry Harold Godwinson, William was proclaimed King and felt that victory was his, however not all English men were in support, and he experienced further pushback from Nobles.

Edgar Ætheling, the heir to the Wessex line of the throne was pronounced king of England by the Anglo-Saxon Council which pushed William to head for London. He was able to suppress further uprising on route and announced his coronation at Westminster Abbey.

The ceremony took place on Christmas Day and incorporated both Norman and Saxon rites. The Archbishop of York, Ealdred, who was Saxon, anointed and crowned William. Geoffrey, the French Bishop of Coutances was also present and incorporated the rites performed for the Kings of France. Outside the Abbey were armed Knights ready and prepared for the possibility of unrest. When they heard loud voices from inside the Abbey, they misinterpreted the noise as uprising and so set about burning the outside of the Abbey. The ceremony inside was in turmoil by the sudden smoke, and the final part of the coronation was done in the smouldering wreckage.

William’s position remained challenged throughout his reign, particularly from the North of England. However he was an experienced ruler and was able to supress dangerous threats to his claim. Three years after his coronation on Christmas Day 1069, William wore his crown in York Minister as a sign against the northern rebellions he defeated.

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