Battle Of Hastings : The Fall Of The Anglo- Saxons And The Rise Of The Normans by Jim Bradbury

Battle Of Hastings : The Fall Of The Anglo- Saxons And The Rise Of The Normans by Jim Bradbury

A thrilling account of the most famous and arguably the most important battle in English history, The Battle of Hastings had a profound impact on British culture and national pride. Jim Bradbury delves into the military background of the battle, exploring the events leading up to the fateful day in 1066 and its enduring significance in the British national myth.

The book begins by examining the Normans – their origins and the rise of William the Conqueror before 1066. It then shifts the focus to the Saxons in England, specifically Harold Godwineson, who succeeded Edward the Confessor and sought to unite the divided kingdom. This provides the necessary context to explore the military development of both sides, highlighting the differences in tactics, weapons, and armor.

The heart of the book is a meticulous recreation of the battle itself, offering a step-by-step account of the planning, location, and composition of the armies. It also delves into the use of archers, feigned retreats, and the fateful death of Harold Godwineson. Bradbury goes on to explore the aftermath of the battle, including the conquest of England and the resistance against the Normans. The impact of the conquest is examined in the construction of castles, the development of feudalism, and the connections with Normandy – particularly evident in church appointments.

This groundbreaking work provides a comprehensive overview of the Battle of Hastings, presenting all available information in an accessible manner. Bradbury places the battle within the wider military landscape of eleventh-century Europe, vividly depicting the soldiers, cavalry, and horses as they fought for victory. Essential for anyone with an interest in English history, this book is an indispensable resource for understanding this pivotal event.

The Tragic Story of King Harold: Love, Violence, and the Fall of the Last Anglo-Saxon King

I’m standing on the exact location of one of the most famous deaths of all time – a death that marked the end of the best-known battle in British history. Towards dusk on the 14th of October, 1066, an unknown Archer fired an arrow into the air from somewhere beyond those ruins. By chance, it came down straight into the eye of King Harald of England. The simple twist of fate changed our country. As a result, a horde of Normans led by William the Conqueror marched in to remove the whole way of life. Of course, William’s propaganda machine ensured that all we ever hear about Harald is that he was the loser at the Battle of Hastings. But there’s a hidden history – a tragic story of love, violence, intrigue, and cold hard cash. This is the real story of the last great Saxon King.

The Early Life of Harold Godwinson

Tracking down the facts of Harold’s history means embarking on a quest across the length and breadth of Britain and over to the continent. Only by making this journey can we see how the events of his life conspired towards his last fatal moment. It started in Basil on the south coast, a hub port for the Saxon territory of Wessex. Harold was born and brought up here, and his father, Earl Godwin of Wessex, was the most powerful Lord in the land.

When Harold was a boy, the Danish Empire under King Canute had taken over the English kingships. Earl Godwin had survived to take over, marrying a Danish woman and giving his three oldest sons Scandinavian names. Harold, our English hero, was, in fact, half Viking. In 1042, Harold appears in the Chronicles in his own right in his early 20s. He got his first taste of power when the Danish Empire ended and the ancient English royal line was restored. Edward, who was known as the Confessor, returned in triumph from exile in Normandy. Harold’s career may have been kick-started because his father was so powerful, but his downfall was because of his family as well. His whole story is a dynastic tragedy, and the course of the nation’s history was changed because his family fell apart.

The Dark Influence of Robert of Jumièges

The first source of tension was Harold’s sister Edith’s marriage, which had failed to produce an heir. Edward couldn’t annul the marriage because the Earl Godwin and his sons were still so powerful. But the lack of an heir created external pressure on the family. The tension increased when Harold’s maverick elder brother Swain was exiled. He was a bully and a troublemaker and had to flee to England’s enemies in Flanders. In 1051, he returned, thanks to Earl Godwin’s lobbying, which caused tension and resentment among other nobles. Earl Godwin died in 1053, leaving Harold as the new Earl of Wessex.

Harold and Edward could now start with a clean slate. But the crisis of 1051 was to continue to hold weight. When he fled England, Robert of Jumièges, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, had snatched Harold’s youngest brother and nephew as hostages. He handed them over to his new master, William Duke of Normandy. Harold’s real reason for visiting Normandy was to rescue his relatives, not to reaffirm Edward’s promise to William. But his stay turned into something much more complicated and sinister. He was taken captive by the locals and then released, owing his life to the man who was to be his downfall at Hastings.

The Battle of Hastings

William swiftly decided that the Pevensey marshlands were his ideal defense position. He moved to the hilly country near Hastings. The next day, news reached Harold of William’s landing, and he rallied his troops and headed south to meet his best Stamford Bridge King. The battle was fierce and bloody, lasting for nine and a half hours. Harold fought valiantly, and his determination and stamina were evident. However, the tide turned when he was fatally wounded in the eye by an arrow. His body was mutilated, and he was identified by his lover, Edith Swan-neck. William, the new conqueror, buried Harold by the sea, in what is now known as Bosham.

Harold’s Legacy

Harold Godwinson, despite being labeled a loser, was a charismatic leader who fought valiantly and defended England against overwhelming odds. His bravery and valour should be celebrated, as he represents Old English valor and the achievement of native English civilization. His story reflects the complexities and tragedies of 11th-century politics and the lasting impact of the Norman Conquest on English society.

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