945th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings

Today, October 14 Anno Domini 2011, the Battle of Hastings occurred between the Anglo-Saxon King Harold and Duke William of Normandy.

The following is an animated version of the Bayeux Tapestry [1].

King Harold had a depleted force of 5,000 foot soldiers from a decisive victory of the combined Viking forces of Tostig and Harald Hadrada in the north of England the previous month.  Whilst Duke William had a force of 15,000 infantry, cavalry, and archers.  Facing superior numbers King Harold took up a defensive position that nearly won the day if it wasn’t for Duke William’s resilient command of a deteriorating situation.

Orderic Vitalis takes up the story:

‘The ferocious resolution of the English struck terror into the foot-soldiers and knights of the Bretons and other auxiliaries on the left wing; they turned to flee and almost the whole of the Duke’s battle line fell back, for the rumour spread that he had been killed. But the Duke, seeing a great part of the opposing army springing forwards to pursue his men, met them as they fled, threatening and striking them with his spear.

‘Baring his head and lifting his helmet he cried: “Look at me, I’m alive and with the aid of God I will gain the victory!” No sooner had the Duke spoken these brave words than their failing courage was restored, and surrounding several thousand of their pursuers, they mowed them down almost at once.’

By the end of the day King Harold laid dead and the Normans became the last foreign nation to conquer the land of the Britons.

~.~

[1]  The Bayeux Tapestry (French: Tapisserie de Bayeux, IPA: [tapis?i d? bajø], Norman : La telle du conquest) is an embroidered cloth—not an actual tapestry— nearly 70 metres (230 ft) long, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. The tapestry consists of some fifty scenes annotated in Latin, embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns. It is likely that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William’s half-brother, and made in England in the 1070s. In 1729 the hanging was rediscovered by scholars at a time when it was being displayed annually in Bayeux Cathedral. The tapestry is now exhibited at Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Bayeux, Normandy.

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