1066 and all that


Back at school I did several oral English exams and for one I learnt a poem (below) about William the Conqueror's invasion of England and life thereafter for the Saxons he had conquered.    It is a deliciously amusing poem but perhaps just a touch inaccurate.  It makes no mention of the bloodshed and insane cruelty of the times but it certainly helped instil into me a love of history.  Perhaps you might think that the Bayeux Tapestry may give a more accurate representation of the events of the times but having seen this amazing piece of work 3 times now I can say it is very different from this poem (as I would expect) and also very different to what I was taught at school in England.  I was rather hoping that at school the boys would be taught about Guillaume le Bâtard, as the French call him (and I will leave you to work out the translation) but sadly the teachers glossed over that part of history.   The Battle of Hastings took place on 14th October 1066, 950 years ago this month so I think now would be a good time to do some investigation into this period in history to try and find out the true story.  I shall report back when I know more!

Statue of William the Conqueror in Falaise, Normandy

In the meantime please do enjoy the poem.  You can also find more information about the various places associated with William in this blog post - 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

William I - 1066 - by Eleanor Farjeon

William the first was the first of our kings
Not counting the Ethelreds, Egberts and things.
He had himself crowned and anointed and blessed
In ten-sixty - I needn't tell you the rest.

Now being a Norman, King William the first
By the Saxons he conquered was hated and cursed
And they planned and they plotted far into the night
Which William could tell by the candles alight.

So William decided these rebels to quell
By ringing a curfew - a sort of a bell
And if any Saxon was found out of bed
After eight o'clock sharp it was "Off with his head!"

So at bong number one they all started to run
Like a warren of rabbits upset by a gun.

At bong number two they were all in a stew
flinging cap after tunic and hose after shoe.

At bong number three they were bare to the knee
Undoing the doings as quick as could be.

At bong number four they were stripped to the core
And pulling on nightshirts the wrong side before.

At bong number five they were looking alive
And bizzing and buzzing like bees in a hive.

At bong number six they gave themselves kicks
Tripping over the rushes to snuff out the wicks.

At bong number seven, from Durham to Devon
They slipped up a prayer to our Father in heaven.

At bong number eight it was fatal to wait
So with hearts beating all at a furious rate
In the heat of the state
I need hardly relate
They jumped bong into bed
Like a bull at a gate.

Bayeux Tapestry