However stirring the events may have been which the old river witnessed during the reign of Edward and the short reign of Harold, there was another still more momentous at the Norman occupation.
Shortly after the decisive battle of Hastings, when Harold was slain, William of Normandy continued his march towards London and encamped within a short distance at Blackheath.
The remains of Harolds army, with the two Saxon Earls, Edwin and Morcar, had shut themselves up within the walls of London together with Edgar Atheling, grandson of Edmund Ironside, whom they proclaimed King but William and his victorious troops were soon at Southwark at the foot of the bridge.
The citizens first made a show of resistance, and sallied across to repel the invaders, but they were defeated, and the cluster of houses in Southwark which had sprung up round the bridge foot and along the causeway were soon in flames. This reverse, and the submission of Edgar Atheling to William, so intimidated the citizens that wiser counsels prevailed.
The portreeve and principal citizens opened their gate and drawbridge and presented the keys to the Norman Duke, who, with his mailed warriors, took peaceful possession of London, the capital of the kingdom, and was soon after crowned King in Westminster Abbey, December 26th, 1066.
It was in London that he principally resided, except when away to undertake punitive expeditions against the Saxon Earls in England or his own rebellious subjects in Normandy.Next page: The White Tower