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Battle of Hastings 1066

The Norman Conquest
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The Norman Conquest is the conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy, subsequently King William I. The conquest was effectively completed by William's victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and this is regarded as an important landmark, the start of English history as we know it.

It may be noted that the conquest of Wales by the Normans was completed piecemeal and not finalised until 1282, during the reign of King Edward I. The same king, though he subdued Scotland, cannot be said to have truly conquered it, as it remained an independent kingdom until 1603.

The Norman conquerors at first spoke a different language and remained ethnically distinct from the native population of England. However, over the centuries, the two racial groups merged and are no longer distinguishable.

The Battle of Hastings was the first major Norman victory in the Norman conquest of England in 1066 A.D. 

On September 28, 1066, William of Normandy, bent on asserting by arms his right to the English crown, landed unopposed at Pevensey. King Harold, who had just destroyed the invaders of northern England at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, on hearing the news hurried southward, gathering what forces he could on the way. He took up his position, athwart the road from Hastings to London, on Senlac Hill some six miles inland from Hastings, with his back to the great forest of Anderida (the Weald) and in front of him a long glacis-like slope, at the bottom of which began the opposing slope of Telham Hill:

The town called Battle in the modern county of East Sussex was named to commemorate this event. 

The English army was composed almost entirely of infantry, and had just been through two forced marches and a battle. The shire levies, for the most part destitute of body armour and with miscellaneous and even improvised weapons, were arranged on either flank of Harold’s guards (huscarles), picked men armed principally with the Danish axe and shield. 

Before this position Duke William appeared on the morning of October 14. His host, composed not only of his Norman vassals but of barons, knights and adventurers from all quarters, was arranged in a centre and two wings, each corps having its archers and arbiasters in the front line, the rest of the infantry in the second and the heavy armoured cavalry in the third. Neither the arrows nor the charge of the second line of footmen, who, unlike the English, wore defensive mail, made any impression on the English standing in a serried mass behind their interlocked shields. 

Then the heavy cavalry came on, led by the duke and his brother Odo, and encouraged by the example of the minstrel Taillefer, who rode forward, tossing and catching his sword, into the midst of the English line before he was pulled down and killed. All along the front the cavalry came to close quarters with the defenders, but the long powerful Danish axes were as formidable as the halbert and the bill proved to be in battles of later centuries, and they lopped off the arms of the assailants and cut down their horses. 

The fire of the attack died out and the left wing (Bretons) fled in rout. But as the levies broke out of the line and pursued the Bretons down the hill in a wild, formless mob, William's cavalry swung round and destroyed them, and this suggested to the duke to repeat deliberately what the Bretons had done from fear. Another advance, followed by a feigned retreat, drew down a second large body of the English from the crest, and these in turn, once in the open, were ridden over and slaughtered by the men-at-arms. 

Lastly, these two disasters having weakened the defenders both materially and morally, William subjected the huscarles, who had stood fast when the fyrd broke its ranks, to a constant rain of arrows, varied from time to time by cavalry charges. These magnificent soldiers endured the trial for many hours, from noon till close on nightfall; but at last, when the Norman archers raised their bows so as to pitch the arrows at a steep angle of descent in the midst of the huscarles, the strain became too great. While some rushed forward alone or in twos and threes to die in the midst of the enemy, the remainder stood fast, too closely crowded almost for the wounded to drop. 

At last Harold received a mortal wound, the English began to waver, and the knights forced their way in. Only a remnant of the defenders made its way back to the forest; and William, after resting for a night on the hardly-won ground, began the work of the Norman Conquest. 

Battle Abbey was built at the site of the battle, and a plaque marks the place where Harold fell. 

The Battle of Stamford Bridge in England took place on Monday, September 25th, 1066. This was shortly after an invading Norwegian Viking army under King Harald HardrÃ¥de had just defeated York. 

King Harold Godwinson of England met this army with his own, taking it by surprise after a forced five (?) day march from the south of the kingdom. And so he was able to defeat the Norwegians and kill Harald HardrÃ¥de, even though he was out numbered. 

Before the battle could start in earnest, the Stamford Bridge had to be crossed, and it was supposedly held by a particularly fearsome Viking. The English finally had to skewer him from underneath the bridge, to make the crossing. 

The battle marked the end of full scale invasions of England from Scandinavia, and was the turning point of Viking activity in that area.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, which means that you can copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license. See for details. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Battle_of_Hastings

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