"None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada."

The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings, from the Bayeaux Tapestry
Creative Commons AttributionThe Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings, from the Bayeaux Tapestry - Credit: Dan Koehl

Here Lewis refers to two pivotal events in England's history. The Norman Conquest occurred in 1066; it "brought great social and political changes to England, linking the country more closely with western Europe and replacing the old English aristocracy with a Norman aristocracy" (britannica.com).

The "defeat of the Armada" refers to England's defeat of the invading Spanish Armada in 1588. It "brought about English nationalism, securing Protestantism as England's state religion. In contrast, for Spain it was a humiliating defeat, nearly destroying the national treasury."