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The Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings took place at the site now known as Battle on 14 October 1066, and is one of the best known events in England’s history.

Harold drew up his army in three sections on Senlac Ridge, overlooking the battlefield.

With him he had up to 5,000 weary men, ranged against a Norman force of many more thousands of infantry, archers and cavalry.

Facing the odds, Harold had no choice but to fight a defensive battle.

Relying on the much-vaunted English shield-wall the soldiers withstood repeated and bloody assaults up the hillside by the Norman’s cavalry and archers.  

The Battle of Hastings was long by medieval standards, lasting all day, a sign of how evenly matched the rival armies were.

Then, on the Norman left, the Bretons began to give way, as a rumour of the Duke had been killed, spread through the battle line and they started to flee.

The Duke, seeing a great part of the opposing army springing forwards to pursue his men, met them, and revealed that he was still alive.

Courage restored and surrounding several thousand of their pursuers, his men mowed them down.

The whole incident is portrayed on the Bayeux tapestry and it was a turning point of the Battle as the English wall had broken and the Normans were able to push open the cracks.

Exhausted, along with the huge weight of Norman soldiers, the two remaining brothers of Harold, Gyrth and Leofwine were cut down and Harold was soon to follow.

On the Bayeux tapestry it is shown Harold taking an arrow in the eye and then being ridden down by a Norman cavalryman.

Harold was killed.

Leaderless, the English fled. 

The victory of William Duke of Normandy, and the death of Harold, King of England, was crucial to the success of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest.

William took the throne of England, was crowned on Christmas Day 1066 and ruled until his death in 1087.

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