The Normans

Battle of Hastings

by Mandy Barrow

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What happened at the Battle of Hastings?

At first the Normans were unable to pierce through the massed ranks of the English infantry. For six hours until late afternoon the English seemed like they were going to win. The Normans charged again and again, but they couldn't break through the Saxon shield wall and had to go back down the hill again.


The Saxon's shield wall was a tough defence

Then the Saxons made their fatal mistake. Late afternoon some of Harold's men broke their shield wall to chase the Normans, who they thought were retreating.This was to be their biggest mistake because no sooner had the Normans reached the bottom of the hill, they turned round and cut the English to bits.

Fighting

The Norman cavalry rode among the English, hacking them down.

Norman Soldiers

Finally, William brought in his archers and Harold's luck ran out. The arrows didn't break the Saxon line, but if the Bayeux Tapestry is to be believed, one of the arrows hit Harold in the eye.

The battle lasted six hours.

Why did William won the Battle of Hastings?

  1. William's army had time to rest before the battle. Harold Godwinson's army was tired and they did not have time to prepare properly for the battle. The English army had already fought the Battle of Stamford Bridge that day and had to march quickly down to the battlefield outside Hastings. They marched 50 miles a day!
  2. William's army was stronger. He had better trained soldiers and had the use of a strong cavalry (men on horseback) and archers whereas Harold did not.
  3. William's army pretended to flee. Many of Harold's men broke their sheild wall to chase after them but as they did William and his army turned back and slaughtered them.

Contents

The Norman Invasion of England - introduction

Meet the four claimants to the English throne (includes family tree)

The battle of Stamford Bridge

Who was the leader of the Normans?

Who were the Normans? Houses, clothes, food

Where did William fight Harold for the English Throne?
The Battle of Hastings

What happened at the Battle of Hastings?

Who died with an arrow in his eye?

William becomes King - plus Domesday Book info

The Bayeux Tapestry - introduction

What is the Bayeux Tapestry about?

Questions and answers about the Bayeux Tapestry Part one

Questions and answers about the Bayeux Tapestry Part two

Horses | Armour | Shields | Helmets | Weapons

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