Battle of Hastings

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The Battle of Hastings took place on 14 October 1066. It was the decisive Norman victory in the Norman Conquest of England, fought between the Norman army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army of King Harold II.[1] The battle took place at Senlac Hill, approximately 6 miles northwest of Hastings, close to the present-day town of Battle, East Sussex.

Harold II was killed in the battle—legend has it that he was shot through the eye with an arrow. Although there was further English resistance, this battle is seen as the point at which William gained control of England, becoming its first Norman ruler as King William I.

The famous Bayeux Tapestry depicts the events before and during the battle. Battle Abbey in East Sussex was subsequently built on the site of the conflict.



Harold Godwinson, from the most powerful family in England, claimed the throne shortly after Edward the Confessor died in January 1066. He secured the support of the Witenagemot, the Anglo-Saxon assembly of nobles, for his accession. Some sources say that Edward had verbally promised the throne to his cousin, William, the Duke of Normandy, but decided on his deathbed to give it to Harold. While Edward the Confessor had an English great-nephew who might have qualified as his successor, he was deemed too young.

William the Duke of Normandy had been establishing policy in England for over 15 years, and took Harold's crowning as a declaration of war. He planned to invade England and take the crown. The Norman army was not powerful enough, so nobles as far as Southern Italy were called to convene at Caen, in Normandy. There, William promised land and titles to his followers and claimed that the voyage was secured by the Pope. William assembled a fleet said to number 696 ships—if accurate this would imply an army of over 20,000 men. This force waited in port through the summer, supposedly because of adverse weather but quite possibly from fear of a clash at sea with the large English fleet. They finally sailed for England after the exhaustion of supplies forced Harold to dismiss his fleet and army and many English ships were wrecked by a storm. On 28 September 1066 William landed unopposed at Pevensey.

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