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1) In 1066 Edward the Confessor died. After his death the council of nobles and bishops chose Harold, one of the great Saxon earls, to be their king.

2) Long before he became king, Harold had been shipwrecked on the shores of Normandy. He fell into power of Duke William who made him swear that when Edward the Confessor died, he would help the Duke to become King of England. But as the oath had been forced on him, Harold did not think it binding.

3) When Edward the Confessor died, Duke William sent for Harold to remind him of his words. But Harold answered that the people had chosen him to be their king and that he would fight against Duke William if he came to claim the English throne.

4) So Duke William gathered an army of sixty thousand men armed with spears and swords and strong bows, and many thousand horses and plentiful provisions. With a fleet of seven hundred ships he set sail for England.

5) He landed with his army on the coast of Sussex. Harold met him near Hastings, but he had with him only twenty thousand men, that is, only one man to every three of the Normans.

6) On the 13th October, 1066, there was fought a battle that changed the whole course of English history. It lasted from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon and both sides fought with the greatest courage.

7) Duke William had three horses killed under him, but at last Harold struck in the eye by a Norman arrow and he fell down mortally wounded. Norman knights broke the Saxon line and a darkness fell. The battle was over. The Normans remained the victors on the field.

8 ) The Duke was crowned King of England and became known as \Villiam the Conqueror.

9) Few things affected English history as much as the Norman Conquest. Through it England felt the influence of a much higher civilization. The learning that had developed in France and Italy came to England’s shores: magnificent castles and churches were built, cultivation of the land was improved and a system of laws and courts was organized.

10) All this is shown in an interesting way in the English language. For a long time the two languages existed side by side in England. French was spoken by the Norman masters, and English by the conquered mass of people. French was the language of the court and the law courts, and the schools. But it was the English language that survived, a very much changed and enriched English.

#1.(…) What did Harold have to promise to Duke William?

#2, (…) Who gained the upper hand in the battle near Hastings?

#3. (…) The Norman Conquest was a very common event in the history of Britain, wasn’t it?

#4. (…) Harold was chosen by the local peasants to be the English king, wasn’t he?

#5. (…) Was English or French spoken by the nobility?

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