In 1066, the English King Edward the Confessor died without an heir. As if dying without a direct descendant to claim the throne wasn't one of the most chaotic things a king could do, Edward took it a step further: He allegedly promised the throne to both his brother-in-law, Harold Godwinson, and to a distant relative, William of Normandy.
Harold and William weren't the only ones with a claim, either. While the pope endorsed William's claim, the resulting war of succession would force Harold to fight Harald Hardrada, the king of Norway, who also claimed the thrones of Denmark and England and invaded the latter alongside Harold's brother, Tostig. Anglo-Saxon King Harold would have to defeat Harald before meeting William and his Norman invasion at the Battle of Hastings, all in the same year.
If that sounds to you like a lot of drama that could easily be its own television series, you aren't alone. CBS Studios and the BBC are teaming to produce "King and Conqueror," a show about this most pivotal event in English history. James Norton ("Happy Valley") and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ("Game of Thrones") are attached to be the titular King Harold and William the Conqueror, respectively.
According to the show's official description, it's "the story of a clash that defined the future of a country -- and a continent -- for a thousand years, the roots of which stretch back decades and extend out through a pair of interconnected family dynasties, struggling for power across two countries and a raging sea. Harold of Wessex and William of Normandy were two men destined to meet at the Battle of Hastings in 1066; two allies with no design on the British throne, who found themselves forced by circumstance and personal obsession into a war for possession of its crown."
The description is right about the Battle of Hastings. The Norman Conquest changed everything for the English, especially the development of the English language. The idea that Harold and William were destined to fight at Hastings might be a stretch, as William claimed Harold pledged an oath of fealty to him while in Normandy two years before Edward's death.
Historians might disagree on whose side of the story is more accurate, but screenwriters and producers agree that no matter what happened, the 1,000-year-old story will make for great television. Michael Robert Johnson ("Sherlock Holmes") will pen the series while Baltasar Kormákur ("2 Guns") will direct.
"King and Conqueror" begins production in 2024.
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