Battle of Hastings

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William the Conqueror, Battle of Hastings medieval art prints of medieval history by Cranston Fine Arts

The Battle of Hastings: While King Harold II  was defeating the Norse invasion at the battle of Stamford Bridge in the north, the Norman invasion led by the Norman Duke William landed in the south. A Norman force of 7,000 warriors sailed across the English Channel in 450 flat boats and landed at Pevensey in Sussex on September 28th. The following two weeks saw the Norman army organising and raiding the local area for supplies. On hearing of the invasion, King Harold marched south from York to London, a distance of 200 miles, in seven days. And on October 13th with his army of 7,000 men took up position on Senlac Hill, 8 miles north of Hastings. Harold took this position as this was the direct route for London. The following day, the Normans attacked the village (which is now the town of Battle). The Battle of Hastings was a battle between King Harold's infantry and the Norman cavalry and archers. The Saxon line threw back the first charge of Norman knights and as the knights began retiring, the Saxons began to pursue the cavalry but a counter attack by Williams disciplined knights cut down the Saxon infantry. King Harold reformed his line before the second Norman cavalry attack was launched. For many hours King Harold's Saxon infantry held their ground against the repeated cavalry charges, both sides suffered heavy losses. As the evening progressed the battle turned the Norman's way, William feigned a withdrawal of his cavalry, the Saxon infantry again could not resist to break ranks and pursue the cavalry. Halfway down the hill William's knights turned and charged the Saxon infantry. King Harold at this time was mortally wounded from an arrow in the eye and the victory was won by the Normans. Each side lost a quarter of their men and during the fighting William the Conqueror had three horses killed under him. Later he ordered the building of Battle Abbey on the battlefield. The way was clear to London and William the Conqueror was crowned King of England on Christmas day at Westminster Abbey.