Listener David points out, ‘you called William’s conquest of England the last successful invasion of England by a foreign army. Is that really the case? Didn’t Frenchman Henry Plantagenet invade with local support and force King Stephen to name him as his successor? Didn’t Welsh aristocrat Henry Tudor take the throne as Henry VIII with the help of Lancastrian allies? And wasn’t the “Glorious Revolution” actually a successful Dutch invasion of England? Isn’t it a double standard to categorize any successful invasion that has local support, as a civil war or a revolution instead of an invasion?’
David makes an excellent point here. All of these examples are invasions and can quite rightly be called as such. In each case non-English men seized power in England supplanting the previous dynasty. So calling William the last successful invader is not technically correct. I think there is a valid defense to be made, however, for distinguishing between these examples and what happened at Hastings in 1066. It’s a double standard, but the term ‘invasion’ is usually reserved for a massive social upheaval where an ethnically or culturally different force displaces the native regime. More than just a small change at the top (one related aristocrat for another) it’s a traumatic event that results in widespread effects at all social levels. In that respect, William was the last of a series of invaders: Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, and finally Norman. No social upheaval quite so far-reaching has come at the hands of a foreign invader since.