The 'Companions of the Conqueror' is the collective name given to those individuals who joined with William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy in the great adventure of the invasion of England in 1066, fought at the Duke's side at the battle of Hastings, and later shared in the spoils of victory.

It later became the case that almost every family of note in England were to claim that one of their ancestors was there at Hastings with the Conqueror and a matter of pride that they could trace their origins back to the founding year of 1066. As time went by the list of alleged companions grew larger and larger with many authenticating their claim by citing as evidence various lists of the 'companions' that had appeared.

The first of these was the Battle Abbey Roll originating from Battle Abbey built by William I on the site of his victory at Hastings. This was as scroll tablet bearing the names of sundry counts, viscounts, barons and knights which was later interpretated as a list of William the Conqueror's companions. The original of this document is no longer extant and it is only known through various sixteenth century copies which often differ in content. (The longest version has 629 names although several of these are believed to be duplicates.)

There was also the similar Falaise Roll originating from Falaise in Normandy which existed in about eight versions and which also listed the names of those hardy souls who set sail with Duke William in 1066. In 1931 the French Government produced an 'authorised' version of the Falaise Roll listing some 315 names which were engraved on the bronze tablet and erected in the Chapel of Falaise Castle in Normandy.

Unfortunately as a guide to identifying the true Companions of the Conqueror neither of these two sources are now regarded as of any value. The Battle Abbey Roll is now believed to be a much later list of families of a generally 'French' origin, and the Falaise Roll is similarly regarded as medieval concoction.

The actual list of names of those undoubted companions who where present with William at the Battle of Hastings is actually quite short and consists of only fifteen names as follows;

To this list can be added the names of five more of individuals who where in the Norman invasion force and were therefore very probably at Hastings;

All these names are derived from contemporary or near contemporary records as follows; Numbers 1-12, and 16 were named by William of Poitiers, numbers 13, and 17-19 were portrayed in the Bayeux Tapestry, numbers 14, 15 and 20 were named by Orderic Vitalis.


SOURCES

The list of twenty names originates from "The Complete Peerage" by George Cockrayne et al, specifically in Volume XII, in the postscript to Appendix L (regarding the 1066 Battle of Hastings), "Companions of the Conqueror," pp. 47-48

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