Monday, October 14, 2013

Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings took place on October 14, 1066 near Hastings and East Sussex, England. The English army led by King Harold II fought the invading Norman-French army of Duke William of Normandy.

The events that led up to the battle started in 1051 when William visited his cousin Edward the Confessor. Edward was the King of England and didn't have any children and William claimed that Edward had declared that William would be his heir. However, on his deathbed in January 1066 Edward said Harold Godwinson would succeed him. William disputed the claim and planned to take the throne by force.

William and approximately 7000 infantry, archers and calvary landed on the southeast coast of England at Pevensey on September 28, 1066. They seized Pevensey then marched about 13 miles to Hastings where he prepared his troops. King Harold arrived with a force of about 8000 on October 13, 1066.

The battle started early on the morning of the 14th. The Norman forces were taking heavy losses and retreated a couple times before launching an all or nothing final assault. There are some claims that King Harold was killed by an arrow through the eye but many other accounts state that he fought through that pain and was felled by a sword blow to the thigh that cut to the bone. As word spread that King Harold was dead along with his brothers Leofwin and Gyrth the English began to flee. The battle was over and among the dead were about 2000 Normans, 4000 English and over 600 horses.

Learning that Harold was dead a group of wise men known as the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot assembled in London and elected Edgar the Aetheling to be the next king on October 15. He was only 15 and the last surviving male of the House of Wessex. But he was never crowned. As William marched toward London he was met by members of the Witenagemot who brought Edgar with them as they surrendered to William  and his forces at Berkhamsted in December 1066.

William was crowned King of England on Christmas Day in 1066. He was known as William I, William the Bastard and most impressively William the Conqueror. His reign lasted until his death in 1087.

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