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The Norman Conquest: The Battle

Meanwhile, the Normans were waiting for the weather to clear up enough to sail across the Channel. When the opportunity arose, Williamís armada of 1400 ships moved in and landed at Pevensey, near Hastings, with no English opposition. Harold felt a duty to defend his land, which was being burned and torn apart by the Normans. Against the counsel of every one of his advisors, Harold led his weakened army south towards Hastings.

The two armies met on October 14, 1066 at Senlac. Haroldís army, made up mostly of footmen armed with axes, swords, and spears, took position at the top of a steep hill, protected on both sides by forest, streams, and swamps. Williamís army did not have the advantage of such a strong position, but they had archers, infantry, and harnessed cavalry. After nine hours of fighting, with neither side ahead or behind, the Normanís feigned a retreat. The English did not have a successful organization, and the flanks were drawn out into the open. From there, the Norman cavalry easily butchered Haroldís army. Harold himself sustained several mortal wounds: after an arrow pierced his eye, his vision was lost and Norman knights cut off his head and leg, scattering entrails all over the field. Haroldís body was later identified by his mistress, and the mutilated fragments of his body were buried at the Waltham church he had built . With Haroldís defeat, the Norman rule was established. William marched to London and, at age 39, was crowned King of England, December 25, 1066.

Events leading to the Battle The Impact

History of England