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Middle Ages
The Norman Conquest



The Norman Conquest
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.45

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    barrage, battle-axes, fearsome, hemmed, Tostig, ruthless, victorious, advisors, invasion, infantry, military, cavalry, frequently, invaders, armed, assault
     content words:    Middle Ages, King Edward, King Harold, By August, On October, On Christmas Day


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The Norman Conquest
By Sharon Fabian
  

1     The year was 1066 AD. The Middle Ages had already been going on for 600 years. During that 600 years, many battles had been fought, land had frequently changed hands, and rulers had often been replaced by new rulers all over Europe. Parts of Europe had begun to settle into large kingdoms, much like the countries of Europe today. Other parts were still disorganized with no central government.
 
2     England was one of those places. Each section was ruled by its own duke, and a central government was just beginning to develop. That meant that if England was attacked, it had no organized way to fight back.
 
3     And that is exactly what happened in 1066.
 
4     It is a complicated story full of action, promises, and lies.
 
5     It started back in 1035, in the Viking settlement of Normandy in France. There, William, a seven-year-old boy, was crowned king. For the first few years, William's great uncle ruled in his place, but William, like other boys of his time, grew up fast. At the age of 15, he was knighted. By the age of 20, he was not only ruling on his own, but also waging wars against his enemies.
 
6     He often had to defend himself against uprisings within his kingdom. He fought off invaders from other lands. Soon, William was an experienced and ruthless military leader.
 
7     Then, in 1064, he was paid a visit by an English duke, Harold of Wessex. Some reports say that Harold was sent there as a messenger by the king of England. Other reports say that the visit was an accident, when his ship was blown off course. The question of what really happened during this visit will become important soon.
 
8     The next big event occurred in 1065, when Edward, the King of England, died. Harold returned to England and claimed the throne for himself. William also claimed the throne, saying that it had been promised to him in a message sent to him by King Edward in 1064. A third claim to the throne was also made by a Norwegian ruler named Hardrada.

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