14 October 2012

Last of the 1066 Battlefields - Hastings

On 14th October 1066 much of the English aristocracy fell on Senlac Hill near Hastings.

This is the battle that people think of when considering British history in 1066, but as the last two blogs intimate, a lot of back-story led to the defeat of King Harold Godwinson by the Norman French, not least of which was the weather. How different Mediaeval England might have been if the 'fair wind' had brought William, Duke of Normandy, to the south coast first. His force had been expected all summer and may well have been defeated on the shingle beach. That would have left Harold Godwinson with a single forced march north to tackle the men who had sailed in longships with Harald Hardraada of Norway. Would the English northern fyrd taken the day? Who knows.

It was never my intention to write a long post commemorating this date. Then I came upon a link via The Battle of Stamford Bridge Society, and instead I decided to copy it here. It is from The Battle of Hastings 2006 - a major re-enactment, if nowhere on the scale of the original. It is courtesy of English Heritage and television presenter, Dan Snow, narrates.

If you ever thought re-enactors were soft, here's twelve minutes to prove otherwise. Would you stand in a shield-wall beneath a hail of arrows, albeit not metal tipped? Without wearing a helmet? And that, as the saying goes, is the least of it.

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