After 15 episodes we finally come to the most famous year in English history. Harold Godwinson has taken the throne to become Harold II, but he is facing invasion from two powerful rivals. In Normandy, Duke William is massing an invasion force to take the crown promised to him by Edward the Confessor. Meanwhile, the fearsome Viking Harald Hardrada, backed by Tostig Godwinson, is planning to press his own tenuous claim. Three men, three battles - one year, one victor. It's 1066!
After the Viking dynasty peters out, the Saxons are back on the throne when Edward the Confessor becomes king in 1042. He's something of a late starter at 38, but he is clearly a man with staying power, as Godwin and his mother Emma are set to find out. However, as the fateful year of 1066 approaches, will Edward be able to ensure a peaceful succession and secure his kingdom for the next generation?
After faffing about in Denmark, Cnut's legitimate son by Emma finally takes his place as king of the English in 1040. Unfortunately when he does arrive he turns out to be a bit of a moody chap and treats his new realm with minimal affection. Heavy taxes, brutal law enforcement and a naked woman riding through the streets of Coventry ensue - will the Viking rule of England survive?
When Cnut dies in 1035 England has enjoyed a period of stability, but the legacy of his bigamy is that his two widows are battling it out for dominance at court. Emma, the queen, had the legitimate son in Harthacnut, but he is out of the country meaning that Aelgifu's son, Harold Harefoot, gets the chance to rule. Will Aelgifu be able to cling on to power? Will Emma find a way to defeat her rival? Will King Harold I even get a look-in?
In 1016 the country passes into new ownership with the Vikings now in control of England in the person of Cnut. Unlike William the Conqueror 50 years later, Cnut is perfectly happy to 'go native' and embrace Saxon culture, ably supported by the ever-present Emma. In fact, things go so well he is even able to cast his eye towards dominion over his Scandinavian homeland. For a thousand years Cnut has mainly been remembered for thinking he could control the tide, but now his sights are set on our coveted Rex Factor!