How did William the Conqueror mark Christmas?

Believing he had been appointed by God, William celebrated the Nativity through feasting and prayer.

How did William the Conqueror mark Christmas? (public domain)

Though, it’s fair to say that the Conqueror’s behavior did not fit with the modern ideals of ‘peace of Earth and goodwill to all’.


As William was being crowned at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066, his soldiers (through misunderstanding or just plain ignorance) thought that the cheering crowd was threatening the new King, so attacked.

The soldiers went on to loot and set fire to a number of properties around the Abbey.

If that wasn’t enough, during Christmas three years later, William was in York overseeing his army as they engaged in the systematic destruction of crops, farms and villages – as well as the slaughter of thousands of men, women and children. The brutal campaign became known as the ‘Harrying of the North’.


On balance, William was one Christmas guest you could well do without.

This article was first published in the Christmas 2015 issue of History Revealed.

Answered by one of our Q&A experts, Miles Russell. For more fascinating Q&A’s, pick up a copy of History Revealed – available in print and for digital devices.