The Normans - Spinning the globe in 1066
Edward the Confessor dies; King Harold claims the crown; William of Normandy (a small kingdom in northern France) invades; a battle near Hastings is won by William; and the rest, quite literally, is history.
Throughout July, the BBC will be revisiting this turning point in the history of Britain in a season about the Normans. But, with the final week of the latest instalment still ringing in my ears, I thought I'd try to give the Normans the 'History of the World' treatment.
I asked Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coins at the British Museum, to help put the Normans in a wider context:
The Vikings had been granted the county of Rouen in France in AD 911 which later became the Duchy of Normandy, so the Normans were a Scandinavian elite given control of a French county.
Normandy's rulers shared these Scandinavian roots with their contemporaries across the channel. The defeated Harold was Anglo-Danish aristocracy; Edward the Confessor was the son of an Anglo-Saxon king and Norman queen, and before him, two Danish kings - Canute and his son - simultaneously held the thrones of England, Denmark and Norway.
This was the interconnected world of the North Sea. Blood and culture together connecting much of what is now Norway, Denmark, Britain, Germany, France and - in the case of the Normans, southern Italy.
So when William set sail for England he wasn't just land-grabbing, he was coming to take a throne to which he had a claim: through blood and culture, if not exactly in law.
And when he arrived, in many ways, William worked with and built on what was already here, literally in some cases - as Gareth explains:
What we see really quickly is an impact on the landscape with castles appearing across the country and the building of churches in the stone, Romanesque Norman style.
The system of land-ownership also changes so that land essentially belonged to the king and queen in the so-called feudal system. But there is very considerable continuity with what came before, for example, in the coinage.
And you can see what some of those coins looked like on the History of the World website. Try this one or this one.
But - all that said - what's the bigger picture here? If we spin the globe in the eleventh century AD, what do we find? Well, just as the ruling families of the colder parts of Europe were bound together in a kind of North Sea world, we find cultural ties creating connections around the globe.
Muslim kingdoms stretched from Spain to Afghanistan, and Baghdad was the largest city in the world. There were pyramids appearing in what is now the USA, as well as across Central America. The world's first bank notes are circulating in China; while in West Africa, the empire of Ghana rules a large part of what is today Mali and Mauretania
As we've heard many times in the Radio 4 series, there are fascinating connections to be found throughout world history. Indeed however local a famous episode like the Norman conquest might seem, it is so often part of a much bigger story.