Battle of Hastings


October 20, 2021

The Battle of Hastings took place on October 14, 1066 and ended in a decisive victory for the Norman army and was the basis of Norman rule in England. It was a clash between an army led by William, the Duke of Normandy, and an Anglo-Saxon army led by King Harold Godwinson of England. The battle took place on Senlack Hill, about 10 km northwest of Hastings (now the village of Battle). The battle ended in victory for the Normans, Harold Godwinson was traditionally killed by an arrow that struck him in the eye. Although English resistance later emerged, this battle was a turning point in William's rule over England. The events leading up to this battle and the course of the clash itself were later captured on the famous tapestry from Bayeux. Batlle Abbey was built on the site of the battle shortly thereafter.

Background conflict

Harold Godwinson was the most powerful man in England after the king. After Edward's death in January 1066, he claimed the English throne. He secured the support of the Witenagemot for this claim. Some sources state that Eduard originally recommended Vilém as his successor, but on his deathbed he changed his decision and supported Harold. William also claimed the English throne. He considered Harold's coronation a declaration of war. William built his position in England for 15 years and was not willing to give up easily. However, the Norman army was not strong enough, so nobles from the south of Europe were invited to the negotiations in Caen. There, William promised land and titles to those who would support his expedition and promised to secure the pope's support. William had 700 ships built for the invasion and set out for England. On September 28, 1066, William, after being held in a storm, landed on the English coast near the town of Hastings. This place is located about 3 km from the place where the actual battle took place. After learning of the Norman army's landing, Harold, who had just repulsed an invasion of a Viking army led by Harald Hardrada and his brother Tostig Godwinson, in the north of the country near York, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, hurried south to repel another invasion. His brother Gyrth advised him to wait until more troops had gathered, but Harold wanted to show that he could protect his new kingdom from anyone. He arrived in London on the morning of October 12, gathered the men he was able to find in such a short time, and arrived at Senlack Hill on the night of October 13. Harold deployed his forces around the road from Hastings to London about 10 km northwest of Hastings. Behind him was a deep forest, and in front of him the soil gradually sloped into the valley.

Anglo-Saxon army

It is estimated that the Anglo-Saxon army numbered about 7,500 men and they were only spearmen and cavalry. It is probable that they all traveled to the place on horseback, but participated in the battle as infantry. The core of the Anglo-Saxon army were professional mercenaries called Housecarls. They were in the king's service for a long time and were able to fight to the last man. Their armor included a conical helmet, ringed armor, and a circular shield. Their main weapon was a Viking ax, which they wielded with both hands, and each man had a sword. The largest part of the army was made up of soldiers from small farmers and in the Anglo-Saxon environment they were referred to as fyrd. Their commanders (thegn) were members of the large estate nobility and they were obliged to serve the king for a certain time of the year and be equipped with their own armor and weapons. The most formidable Anglo-Saxon defense was the gable wall, in which all the men first joined their shields. In the early stages of the battle, this rampart was a very effective defense against the arrows fired by the Normans. The rest of the army stood behind the front row so that any fallen were replaced in the š

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