When King Charles is crowned on May 6, the service will be broadcast live around the world. Cameras are set up to capture every single angle. Every detail is instantly streamed live on the devices. Today we take such an axis for granted but when the first coronation took place in Westminster Abbey the public’s ignorance of what was going on inside led to dramatic proportions.
William the Conqueror, or William I of England, was crowned in the abbey after invading England from Normandy in 1066 and defeating King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. He was believed to have been promised the throne by Edward the Confessor. Westminster Abbey noted, “William probably chose the abbey for his coronation to strengthen his claim as Edward’s rightful heir.
William’s coronation took place on Christmas Day 1066. Archbishop of Canterbury It was conducted by the Archbishop of York instead. Westminster Abbey claims that Bishop Geoffrey of Coutances spoke in French for the French-speaking Normans. But, the abbey’s website explains. As the French-speaking Normans and English-speaking Saxons shouted their approval, the Norman soldiers outside mistook the noise inside for an assassination attempt and set fire to the houses surrounding the abbey.
The church was filled with smoke and the congregation fled and riots broke out. Although the coronation was not planned, William is credited with establishing the tradition of crowning kings and queens of England and later the United Kingdom at Westminster Abbey. Surprisingly, he may not actually deserve this credit, as the Abbey notes that his predecessor, Harold II, may have been crowned here after the death of Edward the Confessor “but there is no surviving contemporary evidence to confirm this ceremony.
Another account of the event by the respected historian Orderic Vitalis, who was born shortly after the event, notes the BBC, ” It paints a vivid picture of the terrified congregation fleeing the smoke-filled church as the remaining bishops quickly completed the ceremony. The new king was shaking from head to foot. 38 coronations have taken place at the Abbey and 39 monarchs have been crowned since the joint coronation of William and Mary in 1689.