Battle of Hastings
October 20, 2021
The Battle of Hastings (pronounced / ˈheɪstɪŋz /; in Anglo-Saxon: Gefeoht æt Hæstingum and in Norman: Batâle dé Hastings) took place on 14 October 1066 about 13 km from Hastings, among the troops of Harold II, king of Anglo-Saxon England, and Guglielmo (later called The Conqueror), Duke of Normandy like William II, for the control of England. The event that led to the battle was the childless death of King Edward the Confessor in January 1066, which started a succession struggle between several claimants to the throne of England. Harold was crowned king shortly after Edward's death, but faced invasions by William, his brother Tostig, and the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada of Norway. Hardrada and Tostig defeated a hastily gathered Anglo-Saxon army at the Battle of Fulford on September 20, 1066, and were in turn defeated by Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge five days later. The deaths of Tostig and Hardrada at Stamford Bridge left William as Aroldo's only important opponent. While Aroldo and his forces were recovering, William landed his invading forces in southern England at Pevensey on September 28, 1066 and established a bridgehead for the conquest of the kingdom. Aroldo was forced to march rapidly south, gathering strength as he proceeded. The exact numbers of forces present at the battle are unknown as modern estimates also vary greatly. The composition of the forces is clearer; the Anglo-Saxon army was made up almost entirely of infantry and had few archers, while only about half of the invading force was infantry, the rest divided equally between cavalry and archers. Aroldo appears to have tried to attack William by surprise, but the Norman explorers intercepted his army and reported his arrival to the Duke, who marched from Hastings to the battlefield to face the opponent. The battle lasted from about 9 in the morning until sunset. The invaders' early efforts to break Anglo-Saxon lines had little effect; therefore, the Normans adopted the tactic of feigned retreat to then surprise their pursuers. The death of Aroldo, which probably occurred towards the end of the battle, led to the defeat and the retreat of most of his army. After further marches and some skirmishes, William was crowned king on Christmas day 1066. There continued to be rebellion and resistance against William's rule, but Hastings actually marked the pinnacle of the conqueror's conquest of England. Casualty figures are hard to come by, but some historians estimate that 2,000 invaders died along with about double that number of Anglo-Saxons. William founded a monastery on the site of the battle, where the main altar of the church was presumably located on the spot where Aroldo died.