*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 14th of October 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
I am speaking English and you are listening to me speak in English and so the events of 1066 are of some concern. And today, the 14th of October is the anniversary of the Norman Conquest and the Battle of Hastings 955 years ago.
I don’t want to assume anything- so here is a thumbnail sketch of what was going on.
In the 900s, Aethelstan the king of Wessex united the smaller kingdoms into one single Anglo Saxon kingdom. This ushered in a series of kings which ended with Edward the Confessor’s death in early 1066. Before dying childless, he crowned Harold Godwinson as king but there were at least three other claimants to the throne. And here come the Normans.
The Normans (short for Norsemen, or Northmen) were Vikings that assimilated into the Carolingian/Frankish world on the French Coast and used that as a base to expand. They were fierce and adaptable they were led by William of Normandy (later William the Conqueror). William saw himself as the rightful king of the Anglo-Saxons but the new King Harold was in his way. So what did he do? He went to the Pope. The Pope was Pope Alexander II and he had an issue with the English. The Archbishop of Canterbury, a man named Stigand, was also the Bishop of Winchester. Not only was that not allowed but he had also been legitimized by Pope Benedict X- who as an antipope was deposed. So the Pope had a reason to oust the current administration, and the Normans could be useful.
Also, remember this is the age of Crusades. Missionary Knights or something along those lines- people who prayed and fought were combined into a new class that the church found especially useful. Thinking the Normans would be able to overthrow the Anglo-Saxons, Pope Alexander II saw them as possible obedient vassals of the church. Thus, Alexander II blessed William and gave him three things: the papal Banner, a relic from St. Peter, and the ability to excommunicate those who refused him.
William conquered in 1066 but Stigand stayed along with many bishops, the church came to clean house in 1070. Pope Alexander had William crowned again, Stigand got the boot, and Rome had just the men they wanted. Or did they? Once he had consolidated, William gave lip service to Rome but the English church would develop its own identity through their own bishops. Normans were independent, but they would soon cross lines with the Angevins and Plantagenet’s and the English/French church would give headaches to Rome for centuries.
And it was a Papal blessing of a Norman king who would defeat the English that gave the English church its particular flavor- and we can go back to this day, the 14th of October in 1066 to see it unfold.
The last word for today comes from Hebrews 12:
22 But you have drawn near to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, to countless angels in a festival gathering, 23 to the assembly of God’s firstborn children who are registered in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous who have been made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks better than Abel’s blood.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 14th of October 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite Normans include Christian Rock legend Larry Norman, Norman Rockwell, and Norm from Cheers He is Christoper Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man whose least favorite Normans include Vincent Peale, Bates, and Osborn (from Spider-Man) I am Dan van Voorhis
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.