This is the story of the struggle between Harold the Second of England and Duke William of Normandy. The prize to the victor - The throne of England. This is the story of the Battle of Hastings that was fought on the 14th October 1066.
An event so significant, it completely changed the course of English history. What makes this event so important to the English is the immutable fact that it was the last time any foreign power was to conquer her. Without doubt, a lesson that became indelibly etched into this island race - forever. This must surely be the one conflict that every British student and adult alike can recount - hopefully, along with the naming of the two main protagonists.
1. The beginning of the trouble :
At the beginning of 1066, Edward the Confessor ruled England. He was 61 years old, and was dying. King Edward had no children, so succession was difficult. There was no direct heir to the English throne. King Edward died on January 5th - in the first week of the new year. As King Edward had no children, it was uncertain who would rule next. Edward died without making it clear who should become the next king. This caused the trouble because many people claimed the throne.
2. The lead up to Battle :
Harold Godwinson claimed the throne. He said Edward had named him as his succession. He was a brave and respected leader of men, but he was not a direct heir to the throne. Harold could not become King just from King Edward's dying words; he had to be declared King by the Witan . He managed to get the support of most of the Witan quickly, and was soon crowned King. Harold was now in charge, but the kingdom was not secure. He had to get ready to defend himself.
4. The Battle of Stamford Bridge :
King Harold arrived early in the morning on Monday 25th September 1066. He had rushed to the scene. The Vikings had not expected him so soon. King Harold managed to surprise them. However, while King Harold concentrated on the Viking invasion, Duke William had already begun his own invasion on the South Coast. Using his surprise attack King Harold's forces cut the Vikings to pieces. Harold Hardrada took an arrow full in his chest. It was a tremendous victory for King Harold.
The Viking invasion force had arrived in 300 ships. They were so badly defeated that the survivors limped home in just 24! King Harold was ecstatic. He had defended his kingdom.
5. Trouble in The South :
While King Harold and his men were still celebrating their fantastic victory,news arrived about Duke William's forces landing in the south.While King Harold had been concentrating on the Vikings, Duke William had set sail and crossed 50 miles from Normandy to the English southcoast.
He landed at Pevensey Bay on September 28th. Duke William built a fort and camped at Hastings. King Harold had already smashed the Vikings, and now he decided to do the same to the Normans. However, they were at the other end of the country! King Harold and his troops marched 250 miles in 9 days. An incredible effort!
Suddenly a rumour went round that Duke William was dead - the Normans were worried! William shouted to his soldiers and showed his face to prove he was not dead. The small Saxon force who ran down the hill was quickly surrounded by horses. They were slaughtered.
8. The battle nears the end :
The fighting continued through the afternoon. The Normans had to find a way to get through the shield wall. Duke William had seen how some of the Saxons had run after the retreating Normans. He thought this might be the solution.Duke William ordered some of his forces to pretend to retreat. The Norman cavalry charged at the shield wall, just as they had done all day. Suddenly the Normans turned and fled down the hill. The Saxons thought the Normans were finished. The chased them down the hill. The ambush had worked!