Normans gained a stronghold in northern France conquering Normandy during the 10th century. From Normandy, The Normans expanded into different parts of Europe.
They initially served as mercenaries under Byzantines, Lombards and other reigning powers. Eventually, they began to fight these European powers and carve out dominions of their own. In doing so, Normans fought battles with the Byzantines, Lombards, Arabs, Anglo-Saxons and Franks among others.
One of the most notable Norman battles was the Battle of Hastings which resulted in a Norman conquest of England and several battles in southern Italy which conclusively eroded Byzantine Empire’s influence in the region.
Battle of Civitate
The Battle of Civitate was fought by Norman forces in 1053 against the combined might of Italians, Lombards and Swabians. The opposing coalition had been built by Pope Leo IX in order to expel the Normans from southern Italy.
According to modern estimates, the Norman army comprised of 3000 horsemen and 500 cavalry while the papal army comprised of 6000 infantry and horsemen in total. Although smaller in number, the Normans attacked the left flank of the Papal army, routing it. The Norman left flank then proceeded to relieve the other two flanks and help cement victory over the enemies.
Pope Leo IX was captured after the battle and forced to ratify many pro-Norman treaties. The battle established Normans as a permanent force in southern Italy. The victory also marked the rise of Norman leader Robert Guiscard, who would later become one of the most pre-eminent Normans in southern Italy.
Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings was fought by a Norman-French army under William the Duke of Normandy against the might of the Anglo-Saxon king of England, Harold Godwinson.
The English king before Harold, Edward The Confessor, had died childless leading to a succession dispute. William II of Normandy laid claim to the throne as well even as Harold was crowned king in England.
In 1061, William landed on the English coast with a large Norman-French army. According to modern estimates, William’s army was numbered at 10,000 with half of it being infantry and the other half split between cavalry and archery.
The army of Harold Godwinson comprised of 7,000 soldiers, all of whom fought as infantry. The Battle took place near Hastings where the Anglo-Saxon force under Harold took its stand at a ridge. The Norman army first attacked with arrows and cavalry but the Anglo-Saxon infantry withstood both attacks successfully.
In a subsequent attack, part of the Anglo-Saxon army left ranks to pursue the enemy which left their lines vulnerable. Normans exploited this and ultimately routed the whole Anglo-Saxon army, killing Harold in the thick of the fighting. The victory of Normans at Hastings marked the definitive end of Anglo-Saxon rule in England and a new era of Norman rule.
Battle of Dyrrhachium
The Battle of Dyrrhachium was fought by a Norman army under Robert Guiscard and the Byzantine Empire. According to modern estimates, the Byzantine force comprised of 25000 men while Robert’s force comprised of 20,000 men.
Although the Norman army sustained heavy damages during the fighting, they were successful in securing a victory over the Byzantine army. However, the victory and the further victories by Normans on mainland of Byzantine Empire failed to give them any long-lasting foothold this side of the sea.
Learn about Famous Norman Battles such as the Battle of Civitate, Battle of Hastings and the Battle of Dyrrhachium. Discover Norman Battles, History, Images and Facts.