ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The defeat of the saxons at the Battle of Hastings, by William of Normandy

Updated on March 18, 2013

The Battle of Hastings

The battle of Hastings took place near Hastings in what is now a small town called Battle. The site of the battle was marked by King William the Conqueror by the construction of Battle Abbey which is now home to a private school.

The site is controlled by English Heritage

I have a yearly ticket which allows me access to all the sites owned by English Heritage and is extremley good value.

The facilities include short and long audio tours, a static exhibition and a good cafe with plenty of seats, both inside and out.

If you think it wasn't a steep hill the fought over, think again. Halfway up I stopped for a rest- well actually flaked out full length on the grass and I wasn't wearing chain mail armour, just a tee shirt and jeans!

The background to the battle

William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy made a poor crossing from France because of bad weather.He timed his attack well as in the middle of September, King Harold Hardrada of Norway arrived with 300 ships off the mouth of the River Tyne where he was joined by Harold's disaffected brother Tostig and reinforcements from the King Of Scotland. The Norwegians battled well and their capture of Jorvik (York) caused Harold to route march his men from London to York in five days. Harold's troops plunged straight into battle at Stamford Bridge and were victorious. The Norwegian King and Harold's brother were killed in battle.

The Gate House at Battle Abbey
The Gate House at Battle Abbey | Source

The Duke Of Normandy lands in England

William, Duke of Normandy landed his forces on the south coast of England, assembling first at Pevensey and then moving towards Battle. Williams soldiers were armed with arrows and crossbows, but his knights were mounted which gave them the advantage over the unmounted English knights.

Once the battle finished at Stamford Bridge Harold turned his troops around and headed south- Harold ran from York to Hastings in 13 days, despite stopping in London for five days to find more recruits for his army, however many of his seasoned troops had remained in the North at York. Harold's troops occupied the high ground at the top of a hill whilst William's troops occupied the plain below.William's troops were divided the Bretons on the left, the Count of Boulogne on the right and the main force, under William in the middle. Harold had few archers, most were still in York, which would cause William some shortage of supplies as it was usual to reuse the opponents arrows in battle and his supply line to France was too long to be quickly replenished.

The battle begins

Legend has it that the battle started in a traditional way where one person from each side fought against each other. Williams jester challenged one of Harold's knights to single combat where he was purported to be singing the "Song of Roland" a french heroic poem as he did it. William's jester is said to have won the combat and so the battle began.

The English battle plan was for the soldiers to stand tightly packed together forming a wall of shields. The battle started with an attack by the Normans that killed many of Harold's men but failed to force a gap in the wall. The advantage of the high ground was decisive in this first failed action.

A rumour went through the ranks of the Norman troops that Duke William was dead. The Breton knights fave way and started to retreat. William is reported to have stood in the stirrups of his horse and said "Look at me, I am alive and with God's help I will conquer". The Normans then returned to fight. The men were so densely packed that there was nowhere for the dead bodies to fall. The Saxons were being reinforced with numbers of fresh men arriving all the time to swell their ranks.

William then implemented his strategic plan- a group of Normans pretended to flee and the English ran after them in pursuit, the Normans turned, encircled Harold's men and slaughtered them, thereby breaching a hole in the sheild wall.

The death of King Harold

King Harold was hit, exactly where is open to record- although the Bayeaux tapestry does indicate that he was hit in the eye. The Normans broke through and hacked Harold down taking his crown for the Duke of Normandy. King Harold's body was found by the victorious norman army and buried in unconsecrated ground upon a cliff, high above the sea, facing towards France.

The number of men killed during the fighting was estimated to be 7,500 but with an average town housing 2,500 people, this was a major loss to the community. Many Saxon nobles were killed and the battle marked the end of the Anglo Saxon age. October 14th 1066 was the date that Saxon rule ended in England, never to return.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • CASE1WORKER profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Thanks CM Sullivan- I got my version from the battle of Hastings site so i don't know which one has credibility

    • CM Sullivan profile image

      CM Sullivan 

      7 years ago from California

      Very good hub! I heard another version of the tale of Duke William's jester, that he was unbalanced and charged the Saxon line and was killed outright. Up and interesting!

    • CASE1WORKER profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      dahoglund- i guess I know what you mean. I took a concious decision to spend my time reading and researching unfamiliar areas and it has been very rewarding

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I feel that I have so much to absorb just with Americans History, I wonder how to ever learn what came before. Thanks for some background on your hubs.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)