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Study guide 4:Why did William of Normandy win the Battle of Hastings? Study guide 41.

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1 Study guide 4:Why did William of Normandy win the Battle of Hastings? Study guide 41

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3 1066: The year of three battles. By the time Harold had been crowned King, it was inevitable that he would face an invasion from the Scandinavians and the Normans. Harold’s nine month reign was over shadowed by the threat of invasion and the preparation for this. After Harold’s coronation., William was outraged and waged a propaganda war to assert his right to the throne. He has his fleet ready by the summer of 1066 but the wind was not in his favour. Harold had his fleet ready and waiting on the south coast with his navy and troops. He also had his northern army waiting for the Scandinavians however neither arrived. It was not until September 1066 that the battles commenced. In six weeks there were three major battles that would change the course of English history. Why did Harold’s reign only last for six months? Harold was in a good position after the death of Edward. He was his brother in law, was a proven warrior and administrator. He further consolidated his position in England by marrying Edwin and Morcar’s ( Earls of Mercia) sister, Eadgyth. The witengamot ( king’s advisors, they included bishops, abbots, earls and thegns. They also had access to the king and therefore power. The word means ‘meeting of the wise men’) had supported Harold’s coronation at Westminster Abbey. Harold was crowned by the much respected Archbishop of York ( Norman sources record that it was the corrupt Archbishop Stigand), Ealdred. Harold issued coins inscribed with pax ( peace) and an image of himself wearing the crown and clutching his rod of justice. Norman sources admit to Harold’s coronation and to Edward’s deathbed offer to Harold. Whilst the Bayeux tapestry refers to him as rex ( king), by the time the Doomsday Book was drawn up in 1086, Harold was merely comes ( earl). The Norman portrait of a usurper and perjurer with no legal rights was complete twenty years after his death. How did Harold prepare for the defence of his realm? Most crucially, Harold had to disband his fleet and southern army on 8 th September 1066. He could no longer provide for his troops and the harvest was long overdue. Harold had to send the soldiers home after two months service were finished. A large part of the army was made up of farmers who had to work in fields to gather the harvest. This was a key difference between the ancient Anglo Saxon fyrd and the slick war machine of mercenaries that William employed. William promised land and riches to those who fought for him in England. Duke William did not get to England first, when Harold returned to London he heard news that Hardrada had landed in Northumbria and burnt Scarborough, Cleveland and Holderness to the ground. Study guide 43

4 How did Harold Godwinson win the battles with Hardrada? Hardrada( the Hard one) was a legend in his own time, a feared warrior who had campaigned in Scandinavia, Russia and Byzantium ( modern Turkey). His claim was based on a promise made by Harthacnut to Magnus, King of Norway, to leave him his possessions if he died first, a promise the Anglo Saxons ignored. Magnus had threatened to invade England throughout the 1040s, a threat which only ended on his death. Hardrada then resurrected the claim, but also knew that he could call upon the support of many Scandinavian people living in the Orkneys, Scotland and the north of England. His aim was to re establish Canute’s empire. He had also had on his side the renegade former earl of Northumbria and Harold's brother, Tostig. Whilst Hardrada’s claim may have been flimsy, his invasion was not. Hardrada sailed up the Humber with 300 ships ( according to the Anglo Saxon chronicle) landed at Ricall on the Ouse and marched on York. The Battle of Gate Fulford. The first battle of 1066 was significant and had an effect on the next two battles. Hardrada found his way to York barred by the young earls of Mercia and Northumbria, Edwin and Morcar, brothers in law of Harold Godwinson. The battle raged all day and ended in the total defeat of the northern Anglo Saxon army. The brothers had shown their loyalty to the king as had their army but had lost to Hardrada.. Harold still had to defeat Hardrada and William and had lost thousands of troops at Fulford Gate. Edwin and Morcar were important to Harold ‘s power. After Tostig was expelled in 1065, Morcar became the earl of Northumbria. Harold supported him over his brother and married their sister Eadgyth. In return for this, the brothers supported Harold and fought for him at Gate Fulford. The brothers survived the battle and may have been at Stamford bridge. However they were not at Hastings but were involved in rebellions against William in 1068-71 and lost their earldoms. The Battle of Stamford Bridge. Harold was probably on his way north, accompanied by those troops of the southern army he had been able to recall, when he heard of the defeat of Gate Fulford. He stormed north in a brilliant forced march, covering 190 miles in four days and completely surprised Hardrada who was camped at Stamford Bridge on the river Derwent, on 20 th September. In another long and bloody battle, Harold Godwinson won a total victory over Hardrada’s Viking force. The most feared warrior in Christendom was killed, along with Tostig and most of his army. The sources indicate that the remainder of the Viking army needed only twenty four of their original 300 ships in which to leave. Study guide 44

5 Notes from video clips Battle of Gate Fuford ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ Battle of Stamford Bridge ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ Study guide 45

6 Task 1)Draw in a dotted line the progress of Harold Godwinson’s army. Include direction arrows. 2)Draw in a complete line the progress of Harald Hardrada’s army, use a different colour and direction arrows. 3)Draw a little boat for the use of ships and use a direction arrow. 4)Draw a wobbly line to show the progress of William of Normandy, use another colour and direction arrows. 5)Make a note of the precise dates of the battle. 6)Create a timeline below showing the three battles of 1066 and the movements of Harold, Hardrada and William. Study guide 46 January October

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8 How did William prepare for his invasion? William began with a war of words. The vilification of Harold began right from the start. When William heard of Edward’s death and Harold’s coronation he was furious. A letter to Harold cut no ice, his barons in Normandy refused to contemplate invading England. William sent his trusted friend Lanfranc to Rome to portray Anglo Saxon England as a sink of corruption and decline gained support of the Pope. This transformed the conflict into a Holy War. William had the papal banner and thousands flocked to join him now that he had a cause. People also flocked to William’s banner because he was already famous as a winner of battles. His conquest of Maine, the neighbouring county to Normandy, in 1063, earned him the title ‘ the Conqueror’. The deaths of his rivals, Henry King of France and Fulk of Anjou made him the most powerful man in north west Europe. William’s military preparations Now that men were flocking in from Brittany, southern France and even Italy, William set about building a fleet. His brilliance as a commander cannot be underestimated. William’s attempt was dangerous and risky. He might lose his life and the duchy he had spent twenty years acquiring. Therefore planning was meticulous. Men were fed, horses provisioned, ships built, arms and armour manufactured. The ordinary people of Normandy did not suffer and the harvest was gathered as the summer came and went. In September, William moved his fleet to the mouth of the Somme to exploit the shorter crossing. All he needed now was a favourable wind. William’s army lands Whilst Harold was resting his exhausted and depleted army in the north, the wind changed direction and William crossed the Channel and landed unopposed at the Roman shore fort at Pevensey on 28 th September. William had been lucky with the change in the weather. Norman sources show him praying and pleading for the change. His army of loyal followers, mercenaries and opportunities that he had bribed, would not stay in one place indefinitely. It was now or never. When the wind changed, William launched the invasion without haste. He knew the coast lay undefended and his spies had told him of Hardrada’s invasion. From Pevensey, William moved to Hastings, where he knew the port afforded shelter for a possible rear-guard action. Then he laid waste to the surrounding countryside, partly to preserve his own supplies, partly to draw Harold into battle. A set piece battle was the only way William could conclude the campaign. It was in Harold’s interest to delay, to starve William out and allow doubt and fear to sink into the minds of the few thousand Norman troops in a foreign land. Study guide 48

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10 Harold moved quickly, perhaps hoping to repeat the success f Stamford Bridge. He may also have planned on confining William to the coast, preventing him from breaking out with his mounted troops and rampaging far and wide across Sussex. He reached London on 6 th October and remained only until 11 October. Many of his foot soldiers and archers were still moving south from York ; his stay in London was not long enough to gather the many thousands he had at his disposal. He did not wait to remobilise the 30,000 or 40,000 fyrd troops from the shires of all England. Forcing the pace again, he arrived on the South Downs n the night 13 th October, his men were exhausted. The Battle of Hastings William’s scouts had warned him of Harold’s approach, and he was ready. He left Hastings before dawn on Saturday 14 th October and began the attack on Harold’s army, which was encamped on a hill barring the route to London. If Harold had hoped to surprise William and scatter his men before they could retreat to his ships, he was wrong. In the words of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, the only English account, William came upon Harold ‘by surprise’ and ‘before his army was drawn up in a battle array’. Even if Harold had not planned on fighting a defensive battle – or even a battle at all, if William’s troops were surprised he was able to adapt to the situation. The English army was already on a hill, if William wanted the crown he would have to get Harold off the hill. William had to do it quickly as with each hour lost, more men would flock to Harold’s cause. Tactics and troops Harold’s army probably numbered around 7,000 including the elite housecarls( the king and his earls often kept soldiers in their households who provided them with a body guard and formed the heart of their armies in time of war when they were expected to fight to the last man. They were rewarded with the spoils of war and land. Most of the housecarls died in the battles of 1066.) the king’s well armed bodyguards, the thegns, Saxon landlords, mercenaries and the mass of the less well armed peasant farmers drawn from Kent, Sussex and London fyrd. The Bayeux tapestry shows that they fought on foot, as was the Anglo Saxon custom of warfare. The housecarls wore a chain mail coat and conical helmet, and had as their prize weapon a two handed axe that could cut a man in half with one blow, the peasants were armed with anything they could find : scythes, hooks, daggers, spears and stones. The well armed housecarls ad thegns were spread al aling the ridge, their three foot high shields locked tightly together to form a famous sheild war or ‘ war hedge’. William had brought horses with him. The Bayeux tapestry shows the specially builf flat bottomed boats with horses crossing the Channel. This was the essential difference between the two armies, and represented not only a new type of warfare, but a new type of society. This was a society based around the education and provisioning of the knight, whose function in life was to follow his lord and pay or his lands by undertaking war service. William had several thousand men on horseback, each fighting in special units, the conroi and following the gonfanon, or banner of their leader. In this way, the mass of cavalry was broken into household and familial units of highly trained men able to follow specific orders without confusion. This degree of discipline was to enable the Norman cavalry to pretend retreat and to draw the less disciplined Saxon army off the hill to their deaths in the marshy valley below. Study guide 410

11 Put the diagrams in the right order. Annotate them to describe what is going on in each picture. Study guide 411

12 The course of the battle At 9am William began his attack, sending in he infantry to soften up the English defence. This did not have much impact. Archers fired up into the shield wall, but the lines held firm. Then William sent n the feared cavalry. These were knights on warhorses with couched lances. The horses were trained to kick and bite humans, the knights had sat in the saddle from the age of five and knew how to cut a man down. But still the shield wall held firm. The advantage of the steep incline began to pay off; the Norman knights wheeled about, seeking gaps in the lint, hit by stones and missiles hurled at them by the jeering Saxons. This continued for several hours before reaching a crisis point. After one of the cavalry charges, the Normans pulled back and a cry went up that the duke had been killed. Panic set in, and retreat verged on rout, but William was very much alive. Taking off his helmet, he bellowed at the men nearest him that he was alive. Certainly three horses were killed under him that day was probably one of those occasions. It was at this point that some of the English front line, now composed not so much of housecarls as of peasants who had borne the brunt of the Norman assaults, also believed that the battle was won, and left the hilltop. Harold, unable or unwilling to commit his army to a general advance-which might at that moment have swept hundreds streamed down the hill towards the retreating cavalry and were cut down as the Normans, seeing that William was alive, recovered and reformed. The feigned retreat was used at last twice that afternoon and the shield wall was gradually worn down. At last, towards dusk, the Norman knights got in amongst the remaining English in the top of the hill, where their superiority in the saddle counted fro everything. English peasants began to desert. William ordered his archers to fire high and it was at the last moment, as the sun set, that Harold, with is brother Gyrth and a small group of loyal housecarls, were ridden down by the cavalry and killed. Harold, hit in the eye by an arrow before being hacked to pieces by the broadswords of the knights. The longest and most decisive battles in English history was over. Key termfeigned retreat Key term : feigned retreat, this was a pretend retreat by the Norman cavalry to lure the enemy after them so that they could wheel their horses around and surprise the scattered foot soldiers using pennants, to signal to one another. William's horsemen at Hastings enacted this highly controversial cavalry manoeuvre. This tactic required great skill, discipline and courage. Given the Norman skill in horseback fighting and precedents for this tactic in southern Italy in 1060, it is likely that it was achieved at Hastings and turned the course of the battle. Knight Knight : derived from the Anglo Saxon word cniht, loosely meaning ‘riding servant’ ( miles in Latin). Norman society by 1066 included a class of such soldiers, distinguished by fighting on horseback, unlike the Anglo Saxons, and by their loyalty to their lord, which was often a family connection. The knight differed from thegns in that the knight’s service was exclusively military and based upon oath taking and personal service. Study guide 412

13 Key evidence, the Anglo Saxon chronicle( D version) for 1066 Key evidence, the Anglo Saxon chronicle( D version) for 1066 : “ King Harold assembled a large army and came against him at the hoary apple tree and William came against him by surprise before his army was drawn up in battle array. But the king nevertheless fought hard against him, with the men who were willing to support him, and there were heavy casualties on both sides. There King Harold was killed and Earl Leofwine his brother and Earl Gyrth his brother, and many good men, and the French remained masters of the field, even as God granted it to them because of the sins of the people.” Key evidence Key evidence : William of Poitiers : Gesta Willelmi ( 1070s) “Realising that they could not without severe loss overcame an army massed as strongly in close formation, the Normans and their allies feigned flight and simulated a retreat… The barbarians ( the English) thinking victory was in their grasp shouted with triumph …gave rapid pursuit to those who they thought to those believed to be in flight; but the Normans suddenly wheeling their horses surrounded them and cut down their pursuers so that not one was left alive. Twice was this ruse employed with the utmost success…” How do the two accounts differ? _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ Study guide 413 How did William win the battle of Hastings? There are no precise reasons why William won. It is due to a combination of events, including skill, luck, and the hand of God, Logistics and circumstances Logistics and circumstances : Facing a double invasion put an enormous strain on Harold’s reserves. This alone, it has been suggested, marks Old English society out as out of date, but such a situation was unprecedented. Harold had to keep his armies and fleet mobilised from May through to September, itself a notable feat. He managed to remobilise and defeat Hardrada in a lightening strike, a brilliant campaign. His army was equal in size to William’s at Hastings. Harold’s mistakes Harold’s mistakes : Harold played into William’s hands. His men severely weakened in number and spirit by the two battles in the north, did not have a chance to rest before meeting William. Edwin and Morcar, Harold’s loyal brother in laws were still marching south when Harold was at Hastings. Harold could have drawn upon thousands more troops. It was in his interest to delay, to starve William out, but he did not, hoping to surprise William’s men out foraging and to exact revenge for the damage done to his lands in Wessex. It was a personal matter between the two leaders.

14 Study guide 414 Generalship Generalship : Harold was in the last analysis, out-generalled. His rapid return south and forced march from London to Hastings ( 58 miles in three days) exhausted his men further. He perhaps planned on trapping William on the cost, but William, was taken by surprise. The casualties amongst the housecarls at Gate Fulford and Stamford were told when peasants broke the shield wall and ran down onto Norman cavalry. The archers let behind could not counter William’s bowmen. Harold was not courageous enough or imaginative enough to adapt to the feigned retreats; he could neither seize the moment for a general charge not command his troops to remain on the hill until nightfall when they could slip away ad raise another army for another battle. William’s good luck William’s good luck : The wind had changed at the right moment for him. He faced an English army complacent with success but depleted by two battles. But William worked hard for his luck. He had prepared an army which was supremely fit and well equipped. He shipped over horses and archers by the thousands in specially designed boats. He drove his men on and organised it all down to the last arrow head. On landing at Pevensey he built a wooden castle using ready made timber within the walls of the Roman fort, and another at Hastings so that his retreat was covered. His spies informed him of Harold’s approach. His tactics of wasting Harold’s private lands had paid off; he had his chance for the one big battle to decide the kingdom against his old adversary. The Holy War The Holy War : Finally, William believed he had God on his side. The psychological advantage of the papal banner must, in an age of deep seated spiritualism, have been great. In medieval battle, God granted the victory. Whereas William was merely unhorsed three times, Harold was struck in the eye. An eye for an eye, a kingdom for a kingdom. The perjurer and usurper was no more. Was Harold struck in the eye? The Bayeux tapestry shows the death of Harold in two scenes. First a figure in mail armour is standing, clutching his eye which has an arrow in it; next to a mounted Norman soldier hacks a figure down. On close inspection, the Tapestry reveals that originally, an arrow was also embroidered into that person’s eye but later removed. Above two figures is the line Harold Rex interfectus est ( King Harold is killed).Conclusion Harold and his two brothers, Gyrth and Leofwine all died at Hastings. Tostig, the other brother died at Stamford bridge. The Godwinson regime had ended brutally and bloodily. William camped his army, itself severely depleted by the fierce fighting, among the English and Norman dead on the hilltop. To give thanks to God for his victory, he founded an abbey on the site if Harold’s defensive line. But when William woke u on the mooring of Sunday 15 th October, he awoke to find himself in a foreign land, his 5000 or so men surrounded by a population of two million Anglo Saxons. He had won the battle, but his conquest of England had barley begun. 1)To what extent was the Anglo Saxon army incapable of dealing with a double invasion? 2)‘ The battle of Hastings was lost by Harold rather than won by William.’ How far do you agree with this statement?


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