Battles involving England - Battles of Harold

Account of the Battle of Hastings from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September, 1066 (location)

Harold Godwinson became king on 5 January 1066, when Edward the Confessor died. The King of Norway, Harald Hardrada, was another claimant to the throne, and invaded England, together with Tostig Godwinson, brother of Harold. At first, the invaders were successful. They sailed up the Humber and burned Scarborough before advancing on York. Outside the city they defeated a northern English army led by Edwin, Earl of Mercia and his brother Morcar, Earl of Northumbria at the Battle of Fulford on 20 September. Following this victory they received the surrender of York. Harold Godwinson was in the south of England, expecting an invasion by William of Normandy. Harold marched north, travelling night and day, and managed to defeat Harald Hardrada's army at Stamford Bridge, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Battle of Hastings on 14 October, 1066 (location)

William of Normandy also wanted the throne of England. He had his invasion force ready, and on 28 September 1066 he landed unopposed at Pevensey, on the south coast of England. Harold hastened south again, and the battle took place north of Hastings, close to the present-day town of Battle, East Sussex. The English army has already fought one battle a few weeks earlier (see above) and had marched the length of England, twice. The English fought on foot, and the Normans on horseback (see right). The English held the top of the hill, and at first the English shield wall held, but the English were lured downhill by a retreat of the Normans, which broke the shield wall. The Normans also fired arrows over the shield wall. Eventually Harold was killed, and William took England, becoming known as William the Conqueror.

The Battle of Hastings, from the Bayeux Tapestry, 1070s
The Battle of Hastings, from the Bayeux Tapestry, 1070s



Account of the Battle of Hastings from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

This terse entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Worcester MS) for the year 1066 is the only contemporary English account of the Battle of Hastings:

Then King William came from Normandy into Pevensey, on the eve of the Feast of St. Michael, and as soon as they were fit, made a castle at Hastings market-town. Then this became known to King Harold and he gathered a great raiding-army, and came against him at the grey apple-tree. And William came upon him by surprise before his people were marshalled. Nevertheless the king fought very hard against him with those men who wanted to support him, and there was a great slaughter on either side. There were killed King Harold, and Earl Leofwine his brother, and Earl Gyrth his brother, and many good men. And the French had possession of the place of slaughter, just as God granted them because of the people's sins.

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