10 Incredible What-Ifs That Could Have Changed The Course Of History
9. ...William The Conqueror Had Invaded England Two Months Earlier?
On 14th October, 1066, William the Conqueror led a Norman army into England and defeated King Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings - the last time the British shores were successfully breached and the monarch overthrown. Yet things could quite so easily have been so, so different.
The soon-to-be King William I had been planning his invasion of England for nine months, and originally intended to set sail across the Channel by about 12th August, 1066 - only for strong winds and wet weather to delay him. Now it is the timings that are particularly important here, because if William the Conqueror had invaded during August then King Harold would have had a far stronger and fresher army at his disposal than he did two months later.
In fact, when the Normans did eventually meet Anglo-Saxon forces at Hastings on 14th October, the latter army had only just fought off a Viking invasion from Harold's exiled brother Tostig and King Harald Hardrada of Norway in the weeks previously. Harold had lost a great number of men at both the Battle of Fulford and the Battle of Stamford Bridge, meaning he had depleted forces with which to defend against William the Conqueror's invasion. Instead of being able to call upon the 25,000 men as he could have done earlier - with many having died or been sent home due to their service the month before - Harold had only 10,000 soldiers to face a Norman invasion totalling 13,000.
If the winds had blown differently, then King Harold may have remained on the English throne for a little while longer - and William the Conqueror's Norman revolution may never have occurred.
NUFC editor for WhatCulture.com/NUFC. History graduate (University of Edinburgh) and NCTJ-trained journalist. I love sports, hopelessly following Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons. My pastimes include watching and attending sports matches religiously, reading spy books and sampling ales.