England became a major power as the result of the Norman Conquest of 1066. In that year William, duke of Normandy (c. 1027-1087), defeated the Anglo-Saxon forces at Hastings on the south coast of England. The Anglo-Saxon monarchy had, since the death of Canute in 1035, fallen prey to factions.
Upon the death of Edward the Confessor (r. 1042-1066), a pious but ineffectual monarch, his brother-in-law Harold had succeeded to the throne. But William of Normandy had an excellent competing claim to the English Crown.