Gesta Regum Anglorum


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Landing of the Normans in England


At that time the prudence of William, seconded by the providence of God, already anticipated the invasion of England; and that no rashness might stain his just cause, he sent to the pope, formerly Anselm, bishop of Lucca, who had assumed the name of Alexander, alleging the justice of the war which he meditated with all the eloquence of which he was master. Harold omitted to do this, either because he was proud by nature or else distrusted his cause; or because he feared that his messengers would be obstructed by William and his partisans, who beset every port. Pope Alexander, duly examining the pretensions of both parties, delivered a standard to William, as an auspicious presage of the kingdom. After receiving the standard, William summoned an assembly of his nobles for the purpose of ascertaining their sentiments on the proposed invasion. And when he had confirmed, by splendid promises, all who approved his design, he appointed them to prepare shipping, in proportion to the extent of their possessions. Thus they departed at that time; and in the month of August reassembled in a body at St. Vallery, for so that port is called by its new name.

Collecting, therefore, ships from every quarter, they awaited the propitious gale which was to carry them to their destination. When this delayed blowing for several days, the common soldiers, as is generally the case, began to mutter in their tents. They declared that a man who wished to subjugate a foreign country must be mad; that God, who opposed him, withheld the wind; that his father purposed a similar attempt and was in like manner frustrated; and that it was the fate of William’s family to aspire to things beyond their reach and find God their adversary. In consequence of these things being publicly noised abroad, William held a council with his chiefs and ordered the body of St. Vallery to be brought forth and to be exposed to the open air, for the purpose of imploring a wind. No delay now interposed, but the wished-for-gale filled their sails. A joyful clamor then summoned every one to the ships.

William himself, after first launching from the shore into the deep, awaited the rest, at anchor, nearly in mid-channel. All then assembled round the crimson sail of the admiral’s ship; and, after a favorable passage, arrived at Hastings.1 As he disembarked he slipped down, but turned the accident to his advantage, for a soldier who stood near called out to him, "You hold England, my lord, its future king." He then restrained his whole army from plundering; warning them that they should now abstain from what must hereafter be their own; and for fifteen successive days he remained so perfectly quiet that he seemed to think of nothing less than of war.

1 William of Malmesbury, , bk. iii.

1 William landed at Pevensey, near Hastings, on September 28, 1066.


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Chicago: "Landing of the Normans in England," Gesta Regum Anglorum in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 341–342. Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023,

MLA: . "Landing of the Normans in England." Gesta Regum Anglorum, Vol. iii, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 341–342. Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: , 'Landing of the Normans in England' in Gesta Regum Anglorum. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.341–342. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from