Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings changed the course of English history and led to Norman rule which brought the Feudal system way of life with it. The battle of Hastings itself between the Norman French and the Saxon English took place on Senlac Hill in Hastings, East Sussex, England in 1066 in the town of Battle.

In England Edward the confessor had recently died, he had no children which meant there was no heir to the English throne and there were several people making their claim to the throne at that time, but it was decided that King Harold would succeed Edward and he was crowned King of England shortly after King Edward’s death.

However this may not have been such a great thing for the newly crowned King Harold as he was soon to find himself in the middle of several conflicts which culminated in the Battle of Hastings. He was about to meet a formidable foe in William of Normandy, who is commonly known as William The Conqueror, the battle hardened and clever commander of many wars, indeed King Harold was really up against it in the battle of Hastings.

Battle of Hastings Definition

“The battle of Hastings was a conflict between the French Norman army led by William the Conqueror in which the English Anglo-Saxon army of King Harold was defeated at Senlac Hill in Battle, Sussex England on Sept 26 1066”

William the Conqueror & The Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings led to the defeat of King Harold by William the Conqueror that was a turning point in English History, The Defeat of Harolds army in the Battle of Hastings led to Norman rule and a Feudal system in 1066. Learn all about the Battle of Hastings Facts and William the Conqueror.William the conqueror | Early Life

William the Conqueror was born in France the son of Robert l the Duke of Normandy who died whilst travelling back from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, this meant that William at the tender age of 8 was to become the new Duke of Normandy.

The Feudal system that was in place in France during this time led to a lot of conflict between greedy Barons eager to take advantage of this situation and it is a wonder that William even survived, several people close to him died and were murdered such as his teacher. It was only because King Henry l of France came to help him that he probably survived this early period of his life.

Battle of Hastings Battle Lines

This image shows the formation of Norman invaders in the Battle of Hastings

King Harold & The Battle of Hastings

Around this time England was under invasion from several armies, King Harold’s own brother Tostig led an army against him as did the the Norwegian King Hardrada (Harold lll of Norway) and this was all happening days before the battle of Hastings.

News reached King Harold of smaller disorganised soldiers that were fighting against these invading armies and he rushed his forces towards Stamford Bridge to confront them.

King Harold had an army of around 8-10,000 soldiers and they easily beat both armies in the battle of Stamford Bridge which took place on 20th September 1066, however William the conqueror armies were going to be a totally different proposition in the battle of Hastings.

Although this was a great victory for King Harold his army was badly weakened in these battles and that must have given William the conqueror an advantage in the battle of Hastings as Harold’s army was tired and depleted and they had very little time to recover.

The Norman Invasion at the The Battle of Hastings

It was while King Harold’s army was still recovering from the battle of Stamford Bridge that William the conqueror decided to make his move, William the conqueror and his well trained army of 7,000–8,000 men of which around 1,000–2,000 were cavalry landed in Pevensy in the south of England on the 28th September 1066.

On hearing the news of the Norman invasion King Harold set off immediately to confront the armies of marched southwards towards the coast and the town of Battle. It is estimated by modern historians that King Harold had an army of around 8-10,000 men who were mainly infantry against William the Conquerors forces of where as William the conquerors larger invading force was half cavalry and half archers, which would seem to be a better combination of forces.

Harold did try and take the imitative by surprising William, however the canny battle hardened William had already sent forward scouting troops to try and locate the enemy and when William learned of Kings Harold’s troops location he decided to march his troops towards them.

Battle Tactics of The Battle of Hastings

Harold set up his army in a strong defensive positions on Senlac Hill and was able to hold back Williams army for are quite a long time, The battle of Hastings started early in the morning and lasted until dawn.

William the conqueror however was very clever and he told his army to pretend to flee at some point in the battle and this led to indiscipline on the part of Harold’s army and a breaking of the strong defensive positions the English army held. During the battle Harold was also mortally wounded and died and without his leadership the army became very undisciplined and broke ranks, which led to the slaughter of Harold’s army by Williams more organised troops.

Historians believe that around 2000 of William the Conqueror’s army died in the battle of Hastings and around 4000 of Harold’s English soldiers perished

It wasn’t to be a good Christmas for England as William the conqueror was crowned King on Christmas Day in 1066. this led to the French Normans ruling period over England

Battle of Hastings 1066

The Battle Of Hastings in 1066

The Norman conquest

The Norman Conquest changed England in many ways , it led to the cutting of ties with Denmark and Norway and the opening of new links with Normandy and the rest of Europe.

It also changed the way of life in England with the introduction of the Feudal system which led to the demise of the Anglo Saxon culture in favour of Norman culture, as part of this drive William the Conqueror made sure that all Saxons Nobles were removed from power,

William made lots of changes to the landscape and the Normans built castles to protect themselves from the Anglo-Saxons, William also re-organised the Church in which he placed Norman abbots and bishops who were loyal to him, impressive monasteries and Great cathedrals were also built by the Normans across England.

The Normans Grabbed all the land they could

William was keen to stay in power and he did this by confiscating English land which after declaring it as his own property he would distribute the people he trusted from his Norman followers. It was this reorganisation of society and the imposition of the Feudal system that led to the Normans replacing the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy in England

The Doomsday Book

William the Conqueror was keen to learn everything about the new country he had conquered and he set about recording everything in a new census of the population and property in England, this new document was very detailed and was called The Domesday Book (It an be seen today in London and gives an invaluable insight into the life and times of medieval England).

Battle of Hastings facts

  • William was the more experienced leader in the battle of Hastings in military terms
  • Harold’s army was mainly all infantry
  • Williams army consisted of a large number of cavalry
  • King Harold died in the battle of Hastings
  • William the conqueror and battle of Hastings
  • The defeat of King Harold in the Battle of Hastings led to French Normans rule of England
  • Battle of Hastings took place on 26 September 1066
  • William the Conqueror changed England to a Feudal society
  • The Doomsday book was created by William the Conqueror’
  • William the Conqueror was the Duke of Normandy
Bayeux Tapestry Scene 51

Bayeux Tapestry Scene 51 Norman Knights and Archers

Battle of Hastings tapestry

The Bayeux tapestry in France gives a fascinating account of the Battle of Hastings, it is in effect a medieval animated recording of the events that happened at the battle of Hastings.

Summary of Battle of Hastings

King Harold of England lost the Battle of Hastings which allowed William the Conqueror to take over England, the Norman invasion caused huge changes to the history of the country and led to a new Feudal system in which English medieval people had to live.

The people were now ruled by French Normans and this led to changes at every level of society as William the Conqueror changed most of the systems and people at top levels of society.

Some of the changes would have been improvements such as the great Cathedrals and churches that were built during this period, however there was a complete attack on the Anglo-Saxons and their culture which was systematically destroyed by the all conquering Normans.

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