On this day, Saturday, October 14,1066 the Battle of Hastings took place and changed history in one fell swoop. It did not take a whole campaign, but one gruesome battle for the Normans to conquer England and begin a new dynasty.
It began at around 9 am that morning with the English positioned on the higher ground. They were battle ready, but the quick march from the north and their previous victory at Stamford Bridge had taken its toll. The English stood shoulder to shoulder and created the traditional shield wall, as this was how fighting had taken place in England up to this point. The Normans brought something new to the table by creating three lines of soldiers; archers followed by the infantry and then followed by the mounted knights. The English did not have separate forces like this.
William carried a banner granted to him by the Pope, Continue reading “On this Day in History: Battle of Hastings”
Since the military action of 1066 was so dominant and due to the time period we are discussing, sometimes the women involved went unnoticed throughout history. Even though they were not directly involved in the physical fighting, they were present and contributed to the historic record in their own ways. With this post I want to dedicate it to three women who lived through this era and how the events influenced their lives. Continue reading “The Ladies of 1066”
Who was Harold Godwinson?
History is told by the victors so often the story of the last Anglo-Saxon King goes unrecognized. Harold Godwinson was born in the 1020s, the son of Godwine Earl of Wessex. When he was twenty-three he became the Earl of the East Angles and began commanding naval troops along the south coast of England (believe it or not England had a great navy even during the Anglo-Saxon days). His father and King Edward the Confessor fell into disagreement and the whole family of the Godwins were exiled in 1051. In 1052, Harold led an invasion to force the King to restore their family’s power and in 1053, after Godwin’s death, Harold became Earl of Wessex (the most powerful office in England after the King). Throughout the next eleven years Harold consolidated his power and became the most powerful and wealthiest man in England. Continue reading “Death of Edward the Confessor”
What was William of Normandy’s reasoning to invade England? And did he really need one?
Technically, William’s claim was the strongest being a cousin of Edward the Confessor (at least stronger than both Hardrada and Harold). In William’s youth, he apparently met Edward the Confessor while Edward was in exile (due to the Viking takeover of England), they became friends, and Edward allegedly told William that he would name him his successor when the time came. It seems young William took that to heart, which is understandable. Once he became such a successful Duke and proved to everyone he was not just a bastard; he would want to expand his territory. Continue reading “The Mysterious Oath of 1064”
One of the most important sources of the events of 1066 is actually a piece of artwork. A beautiful embroidered tapestry, 70 meters long and 50 cm tall, depicts over fifty scenes of history. It is most commonly known as the Bayeux Tapestry and begins with the alleged oath of Harold to William and ends with the death of Harold in battle. Continue reading “The Significance of the Bayeux Tapestry”
Since the Battle of Hastings falls on October 14th this week I was interested in doing a week study of 1066; one of the most important years in English History. In this year the Anglo-Saxon era ends and the England we recognize begins. Often times many studies of English history do not even start until the rule of the Normans. The Norman Conquest in 1066 was the last time (even to the present day!) that England was conquered by a foreign power. To me, that is incredible. William the Conqueror certainly earned his name due to the others who followed in history failed to achieve this even with modern weaponry and advancements.
Due to the Norman conquest, the development of England went into a completely different direction. Continue reading “The Epic Week of 1066!”
A year in history that I find the most interesting is 1066. It is a year that changed English history and influenced the rest of European history. Also, I am a big Harold Godwinson (Harold II) fan and I think he deserves a lot more credit that what he is remembered for in history (i.e. getting killed by an arrow to the eye and losing to William). He was a good king and military leader who got put into impossible situations. Granted, he may have had some over confidence in his decision making and just plain bad luck. The whole world knew it was going to be a bad year after seeing the great comet fly through the sky (tho today we know this as Halley’s comet) providing a bad omen.
In my opinion, with just a few situations changed, the history of 1066 (and the course of English history) could have been very different.
Continue reading “Stamford Bridge: The Last Victory of Harold II”