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Ask the Experts

MR

HOW DID WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR MARK CHRISTMAS?

Believing he had been appointed by God, William the Conqueror celebrated the Nativity through feasting and prayer – though it’s fair to say that his behaviour did not fit with the modern ideals of ‘peace on Earth and goodwill to all’. As William was being crowned at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066, his soldiers (through misunderstanding or just plain ignorance) thought that the cheering crowd was threatening the new King, so they attacked. They went on to loot and set fire to a number of properties.

During Christmas three years later, William was in York overseeing his army as they engaged in the systematic destruction of crops, farms and villages, as well as the slaughter of thousands of men, women and children. The campaign became known as the ‘Harrying of the North’. On balance, William was one Christmas guest you could well do without.

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

The Christmas 2015 issue of History Revealed

Other Articles in this Issue


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