New
New
Year 7

1066 and claims to the throne

You can describe the succession crisis of 1066 and explain how William of Poitiers' writing has been used by historians to investigate claims to the throne.

New
New
Year 7

1066 and claims to the throne

You can describe the succession crisis of 1066 and explain how William of Poitiers' writing has been used by historians to investigate claims to the throne.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. King Edward the Confessor died without an heir in 1066.
  2. William of Normandy and Harold Godwinson claimed the throne.
  3. William of Poitiers tried to justify William's claim in his 'Gesta Guillelmi'.
  4. The 'Gesta Guillelmi' claims that William was promised the throne by Edward and that Godwinson betrayed William.
  5. Historians have to remember Poitiers' motives for writing when using his work to investigate claims to the throne.

Common misconception

That 'eyewitness' accounts produce a more reliable picture of historical events.

Although 'eyewitness' accounts are valuable, they were produced for a particular purpose which may distort their contents.

Keywords

  • Heir - An heir is a person who expects to inherit the property or position of another person when that person dies.

  • Succession crisis - A succession crisis occurs when there is no clear heir to a position.

  • Papal - Something relating to the Pope is papal.

  • Perjurer - A perjurer is somebody who lies, often under oath.

The early part of the Additional Material, which describes the Confessor's piety, could be used to build on pupils' prior knowledge of the medieval 'Church'.
Teacher tip

Content guidance

  • Contains subject matter which individuals may find upsetting.

Supervision

Adult supervision suggested.

Licence

This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).

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6 Questions

Q1.
Put these periods of British history in order, starting with the earliest.
1 - Prehistoric Britain
2 - Roman Britain
3 - Anglo-Saxon England
4 - Viking invasions and settlement
5 - Norman Conquest
Q2.
Which of these regions was not an earldom of Anglo-Saxon England?
Wessex
Mercia
Correct answer: Normandy
Northumbria
Q3.
Which two of these things were true about Anglo-Saxon England by the 1060s?
By this time, Anglo-Saxons worshipped many different gods.
Correct answer: By this time, Anglo-Saxon England was a Christian country.
11th century Anglo-Saxons had many kings, each ruling their own kingdom.
Correct answer: 11th century Anglo-Saxons were ruled by one king.
Q4.
Match the words with the correct definitions.
Correct Answer:king,ruler of a kingdom

ruler of a kingdom

Correct Answer:throne,seat of a king, also means the power of a king

seat of a king, also means the power of a king

Correct Answer:duke,a noble who is just below a king

a noble who is just below a king

Correct Answer:earl,a noble who is below a duke, governing an earldom

a noble who is below a duke, governing an earldom

Correct Answer:kingdom,the territory ruled by a king

the territory ruled by a king

Q5.
Which three of these events happened in 1066?
Correct answer: William of Normandy invaded England.
Correct answer: William of Normandy defeated King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings.
Correct answer: King Harold II defeated Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
King Alfred I defeated the Viking army at Edington.
Q6.
Match the words with the correct definitions.
Correct Answer:source,something that tells us about history, e.g. a letter

something that tells us about history, e.g. a letter

Correct Answer:investigate,to examine something to discover more about it

to examine something to discover more about it

Correct Answer:claim,to make a demand, to set out your rights to something

to make a demand, to set out your rights to something

Correct Answer:justify,to explain or prove why something is right

to explain or prove why something is right

Correct Answer:promote,to support or encourage something

to support or encourage something

6 Questions

Q1.
Which one of these is the best definition for the term ‘succession crisis’?
When someone expects to inherit something when another person dies.
Correct answer: When there are conflicting claims about who gets to inherit a position.
When someone breaks their word about something important.
Q2.
Match the people to their role in the succession crisis.
Correct Answer:Edward the Confessor,caused succession crisis by not clearly naming his heir

caused succession crisis by not clearly naming his heir

Correct Answer:Harold Godwinson,got himself crowned king as soon as he could

got himself crowned king as soon as he could

Correct Answer:William of Normandy,felt betrayed over broken promises

felt betrayed over broken promises

Correct Answer:William of Poitiers ,recorded the Norman view of the crisis

recorded the Norman view of the crisis

Correct Answer:Emma of Normandy,mother of Edward and William of Normandy’s aunt

mother of Edward and William of Normandy’s aunt

Q3.
Starting with the earliest, sort the following events into the order in which they happened, according to William of Poitiers.
1 - Edward the Confessor told the young William of Normandy he would be his heir.
2 - When visiting Normandy, Harold Godwinson promised to support William's claim.
3 - As soon as Edward the Confessor died, Harold took the throne for himself.
4 - When William heard about Harold's betrayal, he was furious.
5 - William planned to invade England and asked for the Pope's support for this.
Q4.
Which three of these did William of Poitiers say about Harold Godwinson in the Gesta Guillelmi?
Correct answer: He knew that Edward the Confessor chose William of Normandy as his heir.
He had a close bloodline connection to Edward the Confessor.
Correct answer: He audaciously seized the throne of England.
Correct answer: He was a perjurer.
Q5.
Which one of these is not a way in which the Gesta Guillelmi seeks to justify or strengthen William’s claim to the throne?
It states that Edward promised William the throne.
It states that Harold promised to support William’s claim.
It states that Harold was a treacherous liar who broke his promises.
Correct answer: It states that William often had to fight wars against other Norman lords.
Q6.
Which one of the following best explains why historians think carefully about the claims reported in the Gesta Guillelmi?
It was written by someone who knew William of Normandy very well.
William of Poitiers was a priest, not a trained historian.
Correct answer: It was written to set out reasons why William’s claim was the strongest.
It was written soon after the events of the succession crisis.

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