October 14 - 1066 - The Battle of Hastings
By defeating King Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings, Duke William of Normandy could take the English throne and kick off the Norman Conquest of England. In a way, the Battle of Hastings made a brand new England, with a new language and new customs. Yet the Norman Conquest was much more complicated than that, and the Battle of Hastings was much more complicated than is often portrayed. William was one of three claimants to the throne, and he faced the English King only after Harold had defeated the other claimant at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in September of 1066. WIlliam had superior force and the only cavalry and archers on the battlefield. But it looked like the English would be victorious on the morning of October 14, and only a last ditch effort by the Normans won the battle and England.