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1066 Battle of Hastings - reenactment

1066 Battle

In the Summer of 1066 King Edward the Confessor of England died. As Edward was childless, there was no obvious successor but it's believed that Edward had promised the crown of England to his distant blood relative, Duke William of Normandy. However, this promise was revoked on Edward's deathbed and the throne went to his brother-in-law, the Saxon Harold Godwineson who became Harold II of England.

The aggrieved William vowed to sail to England, defeat the usurper Harold and claim what he thought was rightfully his. William was still further incensed by the fact that Harold himself had earlier pledged to support him in his claim to the English throne.

William amassed an army of men and sailed to England in a fleet of 700 flat-bottomed boats. He landed at Pevensey and quickly made his way to Hastings where he set up camp.

On Saturday October 14 1066, the Battle of Hastings took place at a point seven miles from Hastings (now the town of Battle). The conflict is known as the Battle of Hastings because that was the nearest significant population.

Two mighty armies of 7000 men fought doggedly all day for the throne of England. The battle swung first one way then the other until the Norman cavalry finally overpowered the Saxon ranks.

Harold was killed and William was crowned King William of England on Christmas Day 1066 in Westminster Abbey.

Four years after the Battle of Hastings, the papal authorities in Rome decreed that some recompense should be made for the loss of life in the battle and William directed that an abbey be erected on the site, with the high altar of the church marking the spot where Harold fell. The ruins of this great abbey and the battlefield have survived and serve as a poignant reminder of this most famous of British battles.

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