The Battle of Hastings 1066
Events leading up to battle:
The battle of Hastings began in January 1066 when Edward the Confessor had died. Before his death on his death bed, he had offered the English crown to Harold Godwinson. Harold was crowned at Westminster Abbey. Meanwhile, in Norway, William of Normandy was setting out on claiming the English crown for himself. This was because, despite his pre-eminent position, he required the active co-operation of his nobles for the great venture he was planning this venture was to invade England and become the English king. However, William couldn’t simply demand from his nobles, he had to try and convince them of his case. Therefore, he needed ...view middle of the document...
In four days he marched 180 miles - to surprise Hardrada and Tostig, east of York, at Stamford Bridge, on 25 September. Before the battle had begun, Harold had came forward towards Tostig and offered him his earldom back if he would change sides, but Tostig threw the offer back in the kings face. The Norwegians held a strong position, defending the bridge on the north-eastern shore of the River Derwent. In conclusion, the battle was a success to Harold as the bridge had fell and both Hardrada and Tostig had fell in a last desperate stand. However, the battle was extremely costly towards Harold as now his army was tired and he had lost allot of men. He had also lost the forces to both the Earl of Northumbria and the Earl of Mercia.
Two days after the battle of Stamford Bridge, after William had apparently waited for “the winds to blow in the right direction”, he began to set sail with his fleet, which consisted of 700 classic Norman longships. Williams’s strong forces had made land at Pevensey. After his arrival his force set straight to work by building an embankment built across the harbours mouth, which was created to protect the ships from harsh weathers. Also they managed to build a motte and bailey style castle in Pevensey (Pevensey Castle), which was constructed at the top of the hill. Then the Normans began to destroy and burn the surrounding area of Pevensey, in order to force Harold to head south and defend his people.
After acknowledging Williams arrival in England, Harold did not hesitate. From York, he immediately rushed his army down south, stopping on the way at Waltham Abbey to pray for English victory. By 12 October, he was back in London and gathering what forces he could to face William. By the 14th, he was on the way to Hastings.
William received news of Harold’s movement, from a prominent vassal of Odo of Bayeux (who was a half-brother of William) and began to march out to face the English king and his army.
The Battle of Hastings took place at a site now known simply as Battle on 14 October 1066. Harold’s army estimated to be around 7000, which consisted of the elite housecarls, the thegns (the king’s well-armed bodyguards, Saxon landlords, mercenaries and the mass of less well-armed peasant farmers. The Bayeux Tapestry shows that they all fought on foot, as this was the traditional Anglo-Saxon style warfare. The housecarls wore a chain-mail coat, a conical helmet and their weapon was a two-handed axe that could easily cut a man in half with just one blow. However, on the other side of the scale, the peasant’s weapons were anything they could find: Scythes, hooks, daggers, spears and stones. The well-armed housecarls and thegns were spread all along the outside, with their shields they formed the famous shield wall, or “wall hedge”, which was locked so tightly together that the dead couldn’t fall.
William had brought horses with him. This was the essential difference between the two armies, and represented...