With Godwinson and his army away, William, the Duke of Normandy, crossed the Channel with his army. The Normans met with little resistance, so they constructed a fortified castle in the British seaside village of Hastings. From that base, the Normans pillaged the English countryside.
Harold Godwinson’s tattered army returned from their battle with Norway to face the Normans, but he was forced to keep some of his forces in the north to deal with the Norwegians. Godwinson quickly assembled a new army of local citizens, but the recruits were poorly armed and trained — no match for the well-prepared invaders. William’s Norman army killed Godwinson and subdued the English forces in the famous Battle of Hastings.
The Duke of Normandy was now King William of England, also known to history as William the Conqueror. For the next three hundred years, England would be ruled by kings who did not speak English. The Normans imported French-speaking artisans, cooks, and scholars. We can see in the English spoken today the high status of the French Normans and the low status of the English field hands. For instance, we frequently refer to animals in the field by their English names – cow, ox, sheep – while food from those animals – beef, veal, and mutton – has French names.