On September 27, 1066, William the Conqueror and his army set sail from the bay of the River Somme in Northern France to begin the Norman Conquest of England. As Duke of Normandy, William became a contender for the English throne held by his childless relative Edward the Confessor, succeeded by King Harold. William decisively defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings (October 14), southeast of London, and was crowned King on Christmas Day. He then began transforming England by seizing lands of the elite, introducing the use of French (forever altering Old English), abolishing slaveholding, and consolidating his power through taxation via the Domesday Book (1085). Pictured: detail of the Bayeux Tapestry (1070-79), showing Harold the King is killed (“Harold Rex Interfectus Est”).