As part of his efforts to secure England, william ordered many castles, keeps, and mottes built – among them the central keep of the Tower of London, the White Tower. These fortifications allowed Normans to retreat into safety when threatened with rebellion and allowed garrisons to be protected while they occupied the countryside. The early castles were simple earth and timber constructions, later replaced with stone structures.
The battle began at about 9 am on 14 October and lasted all day, but while a broad outline is known, the exact events are obscured by contradictory accounts in the sources. Although the numbers on each side were about equal, william had both cavalry and infantry, including many archers, while Harold had only foot Soldiers and few, if any, archers. The English Soldiers formed up as a shield wall along the ridge and were at first so effective that William's army was thrown back with heavy casualties. Some of William's Breton troops panicked and fled, and some of the English troops appear to have pursued the fleeing Bretons until they themselves were attacked and destroyed by Norman cavalry. During the Bretons' FLIGHT, rumours swept through the Norman forces that the duke had been killed, but william succeeded in rallying his troops. Two further Norman retreats were feigned, to once again draw the English into pursuit and expose them to repeated attacks by the Norman cavalry. The available sources are more confused about events in the afternoon, but it appears that the decisive event was Harold's death, about which differing stories are told. william of Jumièges claimed that Harold was killed by the duke. The Bayeux Tapestry has been claimed to show Harold's death by an arrow to the eye, but that may be a later reworking of the tapestry to conform to 12th-century stories in which Harold was slain by an arrow wound to the head.
William's reign has caused historical controversy since before his death. william of Poitiers wrote glowingly of William's reign and its benefits, but the obituary notice for william in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle condemns william in harsh terms. In the years since the Conquest, politicians and other Leaders have used william and the events of his reign to illustrate political events throughout English history. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, Archbishop Matthew Parker saw the Conquest as having corrupted a purer English Church, which Parker attempted to restore. During the 17th and 18th centuries some historians and lawyers saw William's reign as imposing a "Norman yoke" on the native Anglo-Saxons, an argument that continued during the 19th century with further elaborations along nationalistic lines. These various controversies have led to william being seen by some historians either as one of the creators of England's greatness or as inflicting one of the greatest defeats in English history. Others have viewed william as an enemy of the English constitution, or alternatively as its creator.