Norman conquest of England
On 5 January 1066 Edward the Confessor, King of England, died. Edward's lack of children meant there was no clear legitimate successor, leading eventually to a succession dispute. Some medieval writers state that shortly before Edward's death he named his brother-in-law, Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, as his heir. Others claim that Edward had promised the throne to his cousin, William, Duke of Normandy, a powerful autonomous ruler in northern France. Harold, the most powerful English noble, took the initiative and was crowned king on 6 January. William, lacking Harold's proximity to the centres of English royal government, gathered troops and prepared an invasion fleet. He invaded England in October, and subsequently defeated and killed Harold at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. William was crowned on Christmas Day at Westminster, becoming William I.
Between his coronation and 1071, William consolidated his hold over England, defeating a number of rebellions that arose particularly in the north and west of the country. Immediately after Hastings, only those English noblemen who fought in the battle lost their lands, which were distributed to Normans and others from the continent who had supported William's invasion. The rebellions of the years 1068 to 1071 led to fresh confiscations of English land, again distributed to William's continental followers. By 1086, when William ordered the compilation of Domesday Book to record landholders in England, most of the native English nobility had been replaced by Norman and other continental nobles.
The main sources for Urse's life are English documents such as charters and writs which mention his activities. Often these are contained in collections of such documents, known as cartularies, which were assembled by monasteries and cathedral chapters to document their landholdings. Cartularies frequently contain documents from landholders surrounding a monastery, which is the case with many of the documents mentioning Urse. Other sources of information on Urse are Domesday Book, which mentions his landholdings in 1086, and a number of chronicles, including William of Malmesbury's Gesta pontificum Anglorum, Florence of Worcester's Chronicon ex chronicis, and Hemming's Cartulary, a mixed chronicle and cartulary from Worcester Cathedral. There are also mentions of Urse in Norman sources, such as charters for Saint-Georges de Boscherville Abbey.