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1066: The Year That Changed Everything

In "1066," experience the drama of a dynamic year in medieval history, centering on the Norman Conquest of England that would dramatically reshape both English and Western history.
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Overview

Experience the drama of a dynamic year in medieval history, centering on the Norman Conquest of England that would dramatically reshape both English and Western history. Taking you from the shores of France to the battlefields of the English countryside, "1066" plunges you into a world of fierce Viking warriors, powerful noble families, politically charged marriages, and epic military invasions.

About

Jennifer Paxton

It was a special joy to me to work with The Great Courses because I was already a longtime customer and fan! I know I had become a better teacher because of my years of listening to the excellent instructors in The Great Courses series.

INSTITUTION

The Catholic University of America

Jennifer Paxton is a Clinical Associate Professor of History at The Catholic University of America. She is also the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and director of the University Honors Program. She was previously a Professorial Lecturer in History at Georgetown University, where she taught for more than a decade. Jennifer received her PhD in History from Harvard University, where she also taught and earned a Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. She is a widely published, award-winning writer and a highly regarded scholar, earning both a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and a Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship.

Jennifer lectures regularly at the Smithsonian Institution and serves as an expert on Scotland and Ireland for Smithsonian Journeys. Her research focuses on England from the reign of King Alfred to the late 12th century. She is particularly interested in the intersection between the authority of church and state and the representation of the past in historical texts, especially those produced by religious communities. She is completing a book that examines how monastic historians shaped their narratives to project present polemical concerns onto the past. She is also working on a project that examines changing views of abbatial leadership across the Anglo-Norman world in the 11th and 12th centuries.

By This Professor

The Celtic World
854
The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest
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England: From the Fall of Rome to the Norman Conquest
854
1066: The Year That Changed Everything
854
The Norman Conquest through History

01: The Norman Conquest through History

What makes 1066 such a pivotal year in the history of Western civilization? How has the meaning of the Norman Conquest been debated and interpreted over time? And how did two weddings (between the English king Aethelred and the duke of Normandy's sister, Emma, and then, after the death of Aethelred, Emma's marriage to the Danish king Cnut) lay the groundwork for this tumultuous moment? Find out in this lecture that provides crucial information for grasping the Norman Conquest.

29 min
England and Normandy before the Conquest

02: England and Normandy before the Conquest

Take a closer look at the half-century between the Danish conquest of England in 1016 and the fateful year of 1066: a chaotic time when power was up for grabs. Two figures were crucial during this time. The first: Edward the Confessor, who succeeded to the English throne in 1042 but was dominated by the powerful Godwinsons. The second: William the Bastard, the ruler of Normandy, who brought the Norman nobles under control and then set his sights on conquering England.

30 min
The Succession Crisis in England

03: The Succession Crisis in England

Investigate how the relationship between Edward the Confessor and William the Bastard put England and Normandy on a collision course when the childless King Edward had to plan the succession to the English throne. You'll focus on Edward's plans for succession, meet the contenders to the throne, and learn how Harold Godwinson achieved victory at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, only to face another invasion of England from the south.

30 min
The Battle of Hastings

04: The Battle of Hastings

Revisit one of the most important moments in English history: the Battle of Hastings, after which the island nation (and the entire Western world) would never be the same. Dr. Paxton reveals how the Normans mustered up enough men and ships for their invasion; investigates some intriguing mysteries and controversies about the invasion; explains the tactics of medieval warfare; and provides a blow-by-blow account of the battle.

29 min
Completing the Conquest

05: Completing the Conquest

It took several years for William the Conqueror to consolidate the gains he made at the Battle of Hastings. Learn how he used a combination of diplomacy and clever military tactics to take control of London without a fierce battle; how he won over the church so that he could get himself crowned king; how he spent the early years of his reign responding to various rebellions in the northern part of the country; and more.

31 min
The Aftermath of the Conquest

06: The Aftermath of the Conquest

Why does the Norman Conquest matter? Take a closer look at the relationship between the Normans and the English in the generations immediately following the conquest, with a focus on the myriad ways that Norman and English culture intermingled. You'll realize the ultimate legacy of this vital year: the transition of England into the European mainstream.

31 min