Walkthrough: Norman invasion of England

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Walkthrough: Norman invasion of England
North-Western Europe
de Normandie
Duchy of Normandy
Start Date
15 September 1066

The Walkthrough: Norman invasion of England has been created with the aim of helping players achieve success as the Duke of Normandy when playing the Stamford Bridge scenario which starts on 15 September 1066. It comprises the conquest of the Kingdom of England, the defeat and/or containment of vassal rebellions that may happen after the initial campaign, advice on how to administrate and develop the realm as well as suggestions for further territorial expansion.

Historical background

The Norman conquest of England was the 11th century invasion and occupation of England by an army of Norman, Breton, and French soldiers led by Duke William II of Normandy, later styled as William the Conqueror.

William's claim to the English throne derived from his familial relationship with the childless Anglo-Saxon King Edward the Confessor, who may have encouraged William's hopes for the throne. Edward died in January 1066 and was succeeded by his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson. The Norwegian king Harald Hardrada invaded northern England in September 1066 and was victorious at the Battle of Fulford, but Harold defeated and killed him at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066. Within days, William landed in southern England and Harold marched south to confront him, leaving a significant portion of his army in the north. Harold's army confronted William's invaders on 14 October at the Battle of Hastings; William's force defeated Harold, who was killed in the engagement.

Although William's main rivals were gone, he still faced rebellions over the following years and was not secure on his throne until after 1072. The lands of the resisting English elite were confiscated; some of them fled into exile. To control his new kingdom, William gave lands to his followers and built castles commanding military strategic points throughout the land. Other effects of the conquest included the court and government, the introduction of Norman French as the language of the aristocracy, and changes in the composition of the upper classes, as William enfeoffed lands to be held directly from the king. More gradual changes affected the agricultural classes and village life: the main change appears to have been the formal elimination of slavery, which may or may not have been linked to the invasion. There was little alteration in the structure of government, as the new Norman administrators took over many of the forms of Anglo-Saxon government.

Game scenario


When playing as the Duchy of Normandy in the Stamford Bridge scenario, the player will incarnate William II of Normandy. He has excellent traits, especially martial with a value of 21 making him a formidable battlefield commander. Although risky, selecting William to lead the center of his land forces might be the difference between losing and winning a battle against either the English or the Norwegians.

His realm is split in five counties but only Rouen is in his demesne, with his older son Robert of Normandy as Count of Maine. The rest of the territory is controlled by counts that share no family ties with William but at the game start have a good opinion of their liege. The County of Maine is de jure part of the Duchy of Anjou while the County of Vexin is de jure part of the Duchy of Normandy, a situation that can create conflicts with other vassals of the King of France. William is married with Matilda, the daughter of Duke Baldwin V of Flanders, which grants the player the possibility of establishing an alliance with him if his opinion of William is improved.

The Norman army comprises all levies raised within the Duchy as well as four Norman Companies. These are special event sub-units that when disbanded cannot be recreated. All of these units make a force of about 12.000 personnel but it is highly recommended that you reinforce it with a mercenary company, preferably one with emphasis on heavy infantry or heavy cavalry. The Norman fleet is also a special event unit, a significant force of 180 ships capable of transporting up to 18.000 personnel.

The English Saxon army has a size of 8.800 personnel, good commanders leading it and emphasizes on heavy infantry. When engaged it is most dangerous during the melee phase due to these types of troops and if the Norman force loses a single flank there is a high risk of defeat, granting King Harold a significant amount of warscore. The Norwegian army is even more dangerous because it is the largest land force of the three realms engaged in the war for the Kingdom of England. It is also excellently lead and has an emphasizes both on light and heavy infantry. The player should therefore adapt a conservative strategy, if possible allowing the English and Norwegian forces fight each other and suffer significant losses before challenging either enemy to open battle.


Crossing the English Channel can be done in a single instance due to the large number of ships available to Duke William. Remember that when a realm invades another one using the invasion casus belli, each county that is conquered will become part of the demesne of the character that achieves victory in the conflict. For example if you conquer a holding in the Earldom of Kent and then enforce your demands upon the character you are at war with, all the holdings in that county will become part of your character's demesne, including temples and cities (which will require you to create a vassal for each one of these to avoid penalties).

King Harold II of England will usually cross the channel and attack Normandy. Remember that when an army is unloaded from a fleet, it will lose 50% of its morale, making it vulnerable to attack. Use this to your advantage when defending William's duchy, by predicting where the enemy force will disembark and then attack it right away. Once you are victorious, the enemy army will start a shattered retreat inland so you might have to keep pursuing it throughout the rest of France in order to make sure it is properly defeated.

Haralde's army starts the scenario already laying siege to the castle of York so the Saxons may in alternative, move north to defend their kingdom.

One way to get your ally to join on your side is to, counter-intuitively, declare a de jure war over the county of Vexin. Wait (a few months, probably) until the HRE attacks France for one of the Flemish provinces, if you want to maximize the chances that Flanders will have his full troop complement. Immediately send your event troops through the count's counties to maximize the warscore of defeating his troops—once he calls in his allies, you will get less for mopping them up. Don't let your event troops siege anything in this fairly inconsequential minor war—you can have your levies or your vassals' levies do that job. Call in Flanders, and he will help with England.

England always seems to abandon England in favor of sending their troops to siege Norman lands. Since my strategy was to let Norway win, first, I am not 100% certain that the optimal play isn't to just ignore them. However, they were few in number, so in this walkthrough I just attached the Flemish armies with mine and crushed the English army.

You next have a choice. If you wait without any strategy, you risk dying of old age (or as a commander in one of France's wars), or having France be called into the war and forcing a termination to hostilities.

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Therefore, it is important to take some action. I married and betrothed the Capet line into my lineage as completely as I could, to prevent them from having any allies other than myself. Flanders sieged down Middlesex—embark your army onto a navy to get their units to detach and act independently.

Then, I took my chances and waited in Normandy for Norway to win his war. I hoped to maximize his casualties in sieges and have as many castles at partial/recently sieged strength as possible. Once he was near victory (~90% warscore), I hired two of the cheaper-to-maintain mercenary units, sent my troops to the English mainland, and either carpet sieged in the South or waited in the now fully sieged Middlesex to avoid taking siege attrition.

My hope was that his event troops would stay in the English mainland after victory, while his allies' troops would disband. This seemed to work

The time I carpet sieged: once he won the crown, he split his troops into two stacks of around 6,000 and attacked with the first across a river into a force that numbered in the mid- to low 5,000s (consisting primarily of Flanders' attached units—make sure you send one of your units through Middlesex to get them attached and then send them into one of the outer counties that you are sieging). The initial force held its ground while the rest of my troops streamed in as reinforcements. The force counts stayed roughly equivalent as the second Norwegian stack reinforced, but I had more reinforcements available and still streaming in, so the result was his army being completely annihilated for 75 war score.

In the alternate choice, when I stayed in Middlesex: I split my army in half to avoid attrition, and marched the two armies side-by-side towards the North. He attacked the slightly weaker force, I reinforced, and his army was crushed for 75 warscore.

At this point, you are faced with another conundrum. I recommend initially sieging provinces held by people of Norwegian culture, because they are probably still depleted somewhat by recent sieges. Additionally, with his event troops crushed, Anglo-Saxon England is liable to ignite in revolts. Sieging these provinces will not help your warscore.

You also face the choice of sieging as much of the country as possible to have it pacified immediately (for the amazing mechanics involved in the sanctioned invasion casus belli, see the relevant page), or else going for the "quick" victory. For the purpose of this walkthrough, I first went for the quick victory and didn't follow my own advice to siege the Norwegian provinces. As a result, the King of Norway retained a number of provinces.

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This was disappointing—I had assumed that I would gain all of his titles within the de jure Kingdom at least, so don't make the same mistake! At a minimum, siege the counties that are outside the de jure kingdom (Cornwall), and the counties held by the King (here, Lancaster).

On the other hand, if luck is with you—the Anglo-Saxon dukes don't revolt—you can take your time, and take a lot.

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