Calendar of events for the conquest year of 1066.

Harold Godwinson and duke William had met before (depicted here by Tom Lovell's painting for the August 1966 issue of the National Geographic). In the spring of 1064, Harold and his companions had crashed in their ship upon the shores of Ponthieu: count Guy delivered up Harold to duke William at Eu. Before William would let him go, Harold had to swear fealty (and, according to Norman sources, he swore also to aid William in his claim upon the English crown).

Where the dates are without question, I post them unaltered; where there is a discrepency or difference of opinion, I insert a "c." before the date; where the date is conjectural I insert it between brackets [].

5 Death of king Edward

6 Burial of Edward; coronation of Harold Godwinson at Westminster
[10] Duke William (near Rouen) learns of Edward's death and Harold's coronation.
[16] Harold receives William's messengers and disregards his warning.

[1]Tosti Godwinson leaves Bruges and travels to see his cousin king Swein of Denmark. Swein offers no support for Tosti's proposed invasion of England.
[2] Duke William summons his chief magnates to a council (at Rouen ?); their reception to his war plans is chilly, but William obtains their grudging support, upon conditions of reward and a reasonable chance for success.
[3] William sends his embassy to Rome, to object to Harold's usurpation, to propose that William as king of England will reestablish Rome's control of the English church, and to allow that his kingdom will be a fief of the holy see (this was a ploy, never realized, to "sweeten the pot" to gain Alexander II's approbation for the invasion of England). The letters from William and Lanfranc are carried by the archdeacon of Lisieux.

[After spring begins, William summons another war council to meet at Lillebonne.]

[Archdeacon of Lisieux presents William's case before pope Alexander II, and it is debated throughout the spring.]
[1] Harold summons the fyrd of southern England to watch the coasts.
[1] Tosti journeys to Normandy to discuss plans with William.
[Sometime in the spring, William's fleet building is begun.]
[3] William holds further meetings at Bonneville-sur-Touques throughout April.
c. 18 The "long-haired star" (Halley's comet) appears and is visible over Western Europe for the next seven days.
[26] Tosti returns to Flanders (perhaps with some Norman support).

[1] Tosti with "sixty ships" sails to the Isle of Wight and commandeers men and supplies.
Throughout May, Tosti raids up the east coast; finally meeting resistence in north Lincolnshire from earls Edwin and Morcar, his forces are scattered, and he journeys with only "twelve vessels" to take refuge with king Malcolm of Scotland.
[Pope Alexander II sides with William's cause and sends him a ring and a papal banner to carry into battle.]

[1] Harold with the fleet goes to the Isle of Wight and stays there till the 8th of September.
[2] Tosti journeys to Norway to plan with king Harald Hardrada.
17 Charter of Holy Trinity in Caen ratified by William et al. [His son Robert proclaimed as duke of Normandy in his place, should William fail to return from England.]
18 Dedication of Holy Trinity in Caen; Matilda's endowments witnessed.
[30] Tosti embarks; he sails to the Orkney Islands, where he receives seventeen ships; then sails on to Scotland to await Hardrada.

Throughout the month, William is overseeing war preparations at the camp on the Dives river, and holding meetings at or near Caen, where the fleet, in the main, is being built.

The fleet is completed and begins to move down to the mouth of the Dives.
c. 12 William's fleet is gathered to the Dives, and he awaits favorable winds. (Alternatively, others believe that he was waiting for word of Harold's disbandment of the Fyrd.)
[12] Hardrada embarks from the Isle of Solund with 300 warships and c. 12,000 men.
[16] Hardrada reaches the Shetland Islands and takes care of overlord business.
[20-31] Hardrada reaches the Orkney Islands and spends the rest of the month feasting, taking/renewing fealty, and obtaining reinforcements. His daughters are betrothed to the earls Paul and Erlend: who join the king with their men when he sets sail for Scotland at the end of August-first part of September.

8 Harold disbands the Fyrd (their provisions are all gone). The fleet sails to London, but suffers losses on the way. Harold rides home to Bosham.
[9-17] Tosti meets Hardrada at the mouth of the Tyne river. They proceed down the coast, ravaging Cleveland, and sacking the towns of Scarborough and Holderness.
12 William's fleet sails to the Somme river and puts in at the estuary. There are noticeable casualties from the lee wind along the way.
[12-13] First news of the Norse invaders reaches Harold at Bosham. He sets out at once for London.
[14-15] Harold arrives in London and summons the Fyrd again.
c. 18 Hardrada and Tosti beach their ships up the Ouse river at Riccall.
[19] Harold learns of the sack of Scarborough.
c. 20 Harold rides toward York.
20 Battle of Gate Fulford: earls Edwin and Morcar are defeated by the Norse. Both sides suffer heavy casualties.
24 Harold's army reaches Tadcaster late in the evening. He secures the gates of York during the night to prevent news of his coming from reaching the Norse.
25 Battle of Stamford bridge: Hardrada, Tosti and two-thirds of the Viking army are waiting on both sides of the river for the men of Yorkshire to bring hostages. Harold and his brothers, Gyrth and Leofwin, surprise them and win a complete victory. The fighting takes most of the day (with break periods). Hardrada and Harold's brother Tosti are killed, and the Norse army sails away in only twenty ("twenty-four") ships; the rest fall as plunder to the English. English casualties are comparatively light (except amongst the housecarles, who bore the brunt of the fighting).

(painting Birney Lettick for August 1966 issue of National Geographic)
27 The wind shifts to the south, and William embarks his fleet to the middle of the Channel, where they drop anchor and wait for daylight.
28 The Norman fleet arrives at Pevensey and many troops disembark. The old Roman fort ruins are occupied and a motte and bailey castle is built over the next few days. William and his companions ride around the bay toward Hastings. The fleet sails north for Hastings.
29 The fleet arrives at Hastings and is beached. William commands a motte and bailey castle to be built. He occupies the town. (Stray ships land at Romney and the Normans are killed.)

c. 1 Harold, recouping at York, learns of the invasion at Hastings and Pevensey.
c. 2 Harold leads his army south toward London.
c. 6 Harold arrives at London and summons reinforcements.
c. 11 Harold marches into the South Downs.
13-14 Harold's army reaches the "hoary apple tree" on Caldbec hill and unites with the locals already mustered there.

(Birney Lettick, December 1962 National Geographic)
14 Battle of Hastings: Harold takes the high ground first, c. a mile south of Caldbec hill. The Franco-Norman army attacks repeatedly all day. Late in the afternoon, Harold is killed; his brothers are already dead by then; the English army is broken and withdraws into the Andresweald forest a mile to the north. William camps on the field of victory.
c. 15 Harold is buried at Hastings.
15-20 William rests his army and waits for submissions, which never come. He marches out on the 20th up the coast.
c. 20 Romney is sacked for killing William's men.
21 Submission of Dover.
21-c. 28 William holds at Dover; sends out parties to ravage and obtain supplies.
29 Submission of Canterbury.

Throughout most of November, William and c. one-third of his army are down with dysentery. William remains near Canterbury at a place called the "broken tower". His army forms three columns and marches west and south, passing through and seizing Guildford, Chichester, and Winchester (which queen Edith holds; she submits willingly). At Alresford the army divides into two columns and marches north toward the Thames; then splits into three divisions again, before uniting at Wallingford, where William meets them - having recovered from his illness.
[1] William sends 500 horse to London to reconnoiter; London militia cross the bridge and attack, but are driven back across the river. The Normans set fire to Southwark, then move west.
c. 11 Franco-Norman reinforcements arrive at Portsmouth and link up with the army division there. They march north to Alresford.
c. 18 The whole army arrives at Wallingford and crosses over to the north side.
c. 19 Archbishop Stigand submits to William at Wallingford.
[20-30] William marches along the Icknield way; detachments are sent further north to watch the roads near Cambridge, St Neots and Stony Stratford.

[12] William arrives at Hertford.
c. 13-20 William treats in secret with Esegar the sheriff to obtain the surrender of London: Esegar recommends surrender to the witan. Meanwhile, William threatens with siege engines; there are possibly skirmishes outside the walls. Then Edgar atheling, archbishop Aldred, earls Morcar and Edwin, and Esegar the sheriff come and surrender.
[20] Advance guard enters London through Ludgate (in the middle of the western wall), and encounters a strong force of defenders ("rebels"): there is a battle and the Londoners are scattered. William enters London.
[20 to ?] A motte and bailey castle is built inside the city (which tradition says is the same site that the later Tower of London occupies).
25 William is crowned in the Confessor's abbey of Westminster, by archbishop Aldred of York. The acclamation of the English alarms his soldiers on guard outside, who, fearing that a riot is starting up, set fire to the nearby houses.
26 William removes himself and his troops to Barking.
[27] Magnates of England summoned to Barking, to swear allegiance to the new king.