House of Normandy

The Norman monarchs sat on England's throne from 1066 until 1154. In 1066, when King Edward the Confessor (r. 1042-1066) passed away, he was succeeded by his stepson, Harold Godwinson (r. 1066). William, Duke of Normandy, however, claimed that Edward had named him as his heir years earlier. Additionally, Harold had been stranded in Normandy several years earlier and was treated kindly by William. As payment, Harold had apparently dismissed all claims to the English throne in favor of William. Therefore, a power struggle erupted between Harold and William, which culminated at the historic Battle of Hastings. When the battle was over, Harold was dead and William was the most likely candidate for king. However, there was one last male member of the house of Wessex in the form of the young boy Edgar the Etheling. Edgar's claim would never come to anything and William I (r. 1066-1087) was crowned on Christmas day. Upon his death, William I was succeeded by his eldest son Robert "Curthose" (c. 1052-1134) in Normandy (the more valuable territory at the time) and his second son, William II (r. 1087-1100) in England. William II, also known as "Rufus," was killed under suspicious circumstances while hunting in the New Forest and was succeeded by his brother Henry I (r. 1100-1135), who was able to defeat and imprison his brother Robert in order to also gain control of Normandy. When Henry I died, his only remaining child was his daughter Matilda (1102-1167), whom he had named as his heir (his sons were killed in a boating accident). However, upon the old king's death, the throne was taken by Stephen of Blois (r. 1135-1154), a grandson of William I through his daughter Adela (c. 1062-1137). Because of his usurpation, Stephen was forced to deal with civil wars throughout his reign from Matlida's followers. Ultimately, Stephen was defeated in battle and was forced to make a compromise: Stephen would reign during his lifetime, but would be succeeded by Matilda's son, Henry of Anjou (r. 1154-1189). Only a year after this agreement was made, Stephen died and the house of Anjou/Plantagenet was seated on England's throne.

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