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The Battle Of Hastings:1066

The Bayeux Tapestry

A scene from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting Harold Godwinson being struck in the eye by an Norman arrow.

A scene from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting Harold Godwinson being struck in the eye by an Norman arrow.

A Full Length Battle Of Hastings Documentary From The BBC

Introduction

In traditional accounts Harold Godwinson’s reputation was blackened as an oath breaker, while others viewed William as the villain. It is probably safe to say that both of these remarkably able and ruthless men had their good and bad sides. William was the illegitimate son of the Duke of Normandy and he had to defend his position as Duke, from 1035 onwards, against all comers and by the time he wished to invade England had carved out the most powerful duchy in France and north-western Europe, reducing both Brittany and Maine to vassal states. His influence was also predominant in Paris, where he dominated the young King Philip, and he had created a crucial ally in Flanders by marrying Matilda, the daughter of Duke Baldwin IV.

William’s claim to the English throne was very tenuous and lacked solid legal foundations. William had forced his rival, Harold Godwinson, in 1064 to swear an oath to leave Edward the Confessor’s throne to him. But Harold had no intention of honouring an oath forced upon him through blackmail and threats. As the Earl of Wessex, vice-regent under Edward since 1064, the elderly King’s brother in law, and with undoubted ability and good character, no man had a stronger or more legitimate claim to the throne of England. As a consequence when Edward died on the 5th January 1066, Harold was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

Stamford Bridge

A painting of the battle of Stamford Bridge showing Norwegian King Harold Hardrada being hit in the neck with an arrow.

A painting of the battle of Stamford Bridge showing Norwegian King Harold Hardrada being hit in the neck with an arrow.

Commemorating Stamford Bridge

A plaque commemorating the battle located in Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire.

A plaque commemorating the battle located in Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire.

Stamford Bridge

Harold was no fool and he knew that the ruthlessly ambitious William would use his ‘breaking’ of the ‘oath’ as a spurious excuse to invade. Until May there was no threat of invasion but during the early summer William unleashed an ambitious naval building programme to create an armada of 500 ships to carry his 6000 strong army (of Normans, Bretons, French and Flemings) across the Channel.

In response Harold mobilised his 4000 strong Royal Guard, known by their Scandinavian name of huscarls, and the territorial Saxon militia, the fyrd. The fyrd could, in theory and given time, resources and money, mobilise 15,000-20,000 men but during the summer of 1066 it probably numbered no more than 4000. Harold strung out his army of 8000 men along the south coast waiting for the Normans. Harold ordered the fyrd to be disbanded on the 8th September so that these men could return to their farms and gather in the all-important harvest. Unfortunately Harold had acted precipitously since news arrived that his brother, Earl Tostig, had joined forces with King Harald Hardrada of Norway and had invaded northern England. As Harold gathered his men and rushed north, the Saxon army of the north, led by the Earl of Northumbria were defeated on the 20th September at Fulford Gate. Five days later Harold surprised and annihilated the Norwegian invaders, slaying Tostig and Harald in the process, at Stamford Bridge.

A Full Length Documentary On William The Conqueror

William's Invasion

Back in France, William had been kept in Normandy by contrary winds. It was only on the 12th September that his armada could sail to St. Valery on the Somme River from where he intended to invade England. It was only a short day’s sailing across the Channel to England from this small port. The winds proved fickle and it was not until the 27th September that a southerly wind allowed William’s fleet to set sail northwards. He made landfall at Pevensey Bay the following morning and immediately set about gathering supplies, erecting his wooden forts (portable ones brought from Normandy in sections) and plundering the surrounding countryside for intelligence, food and fodder for his horses.

News that William had finally landed reached Harold at York on the 1st October amidst celebrations following Stamford Bridge. Harold rushed south picking up the fyrd and other troops along the way back to London. He left the capital on the 11th October heading south with an army of 6000-7000 troops. Many of his men rode to the battle on horses but would fight on foot. It was late in the afternoon on the 13th October that Harold reached Senlac Ridge, a location that he had, during the summer’s idleness, chosen as a possible battleground. His choice was based on his experience fighting the Welsh in 1064 and his familiarity with the Hastings region.

Senlac was a gently sloped ridge with a marsh area to the south around the Asten brook with its western and eastern flanks protected by deep ravines covered by thick brushwood. An even steeper ridge protected the northern side and would thus prevent the Normans attacking Harold’s army in the rear. William was rapidly informed about Harold’s movement and the arrival of his army. As the Saxons had arrived late in the day they would opt to rest and then make a lightning attack in the morning. But William would himself make the first move. His men were roused little after five in the morning and by 6 am the Normans were marching northwards to face Harold’s host. Before they set off William spoke to them telling them ‘You fight not merely for victory but also for survival.’

William’s claim may seem melodramatic but it was the naked truth; if they failed to defeat the Saxons on hostile English soil then they would probably not escape home to Normandy alive. William divided his army into three divisions that marched off with the Bretons as the vanguard, followed by the Franco-Flemish troops and then finally William leading his own Normans. William had chosen as the assembly point the Blackhorse Hill, on the Hastings to London road, where the Bretons arrived by 7:30 am. Here, out of sight of the Saxons, William left his baggage train and ordered his men to put on their chain mail hauberk armour which they had slung across the back of their horses. Unfortunately William put his hauberk on back to front, viewed by his superstitious men as a bad omen, but one that the cynical William simply laughed off. The Norman army marched north to take up position opposite the Saxons.

The Battlefield Today

The battlefield at Hastings from the north side.

The battlefield at Hastings from the north side.

The Flemish Contingent

As well as Normans, William's army was bolstered by men hailing from Brittany (Bretons) and Flanders (Flemish).

As well as Normans, William's army was bolstered by men hailing from Brittany (Bretons) and Flanders (Flemish).

Dispositions

William remained on a small knoll out of the way under the Papal banner and his own Norman leopard standards. From this position he could give orders and had a good view of the battlefield. He could observe how the Bretons under Count Alan of Brittany followed the Asten brook to take up position opposite Harold’s right flank. On William’s left, Count Eustace of Boulogne led his French and Flemish mercenaries to the bottom of Senlac Ridge facing the Saxon left. In the middle now stood the largest and most formidable of the divisions: William’s own Normans with auxiliaries from Anjou and Main. The archers and crossbowmen were at the front, then came the more heavily armed infantry and finally William’s mounted men-at-arms.

For his part, Harold had been aware that the invaders were on the move since 8 am when scouts reported that the Normans had left Blackhorse Hill. If the weather had been wetter, forcing William to postpone his attack for a few crucial hours, Harold might have had time to erect proper defences atop Senlac Ridge but there was no rain and the ground was firm. Harold’s army was roused and began to deploy along the ridge in a shield wall that stretched for 600 yards from the Asten brook to the junction of the roads to Hastings and Seddlescombe. The Saxon phalanx was 10 ranks deep with 2 feet of frontage for each of his warriors meaning that he had about 6300 men under his command. As William had placed his strongest division in the centre, so Harold followed suit, placing his more experienced huscarls in the centre. He placed his lighter armed and armoured men in the fyrd on the flanks, reinforced by a line of sharpened wooden stakes in front.

Reenacting The Battle

The Battle Begins

The 14th October, the Feast of St. Calixtus, dawned with brightening skies, a thin cloud cover and no indication of rain. 44 year old Harold faced 38 year old William. They were both gifted and experienced commanders in their prime leading two of the best armies in Western Europe, whose morale was superb: the Normans because of the prospect of conquest and loot, the Saxons because of the need to defend their homeland and their recent spectacular victory at Stamford Bridge. The Normans, who would have to make the first move, were 150 yards from, and 50 feet below, the Saxon shield wall. The Bretons were the least experienced of William’s troops and the weak link in his army. Harold’s equivalent were the fyrd and he trusted his shield wall to hold back the onrush of Norman cavalry, it was the first time a predominantly cavalry army was fighting infantry in this fashion. The outcome would decide the nature of medieval warfare thereafter.

Sharp trumpet blasts at 9am announced the beginning of the battle as William’s three divisions advanced up the slope of Senlac Ridge. The archers at the front showered the Saxons with arrows but to little effect- these either overshot their intended target or got lodged in the shield wall. The Saxon response with javelins, spears and axes proved far more effective against the onrushing Normans. As they had the gentler slope, the jittery Bretons were the first to smash into the shield wall and be repelled by the fierce resistance of the Saxons. Unnerved by this and the failure of the archers’ fire to make any impact upon the shield wall, the Bretons retreated by 10:30am. The retreat turned into a rout when the undisciplined fyrd militia left the safety of the shield wall to pursue the fleeing Bretons.

Useful Links

William's Attack

From his vantage point, William saw what was happening and with a curse he gathered part of the advancing Norman cavalry to assist the hard pressed Bretons. Riding into the fyrd with a charge of armoured knights, the Saxons were taken by surprise and, as lightly armoured infantry on open ground, they were cut down to the last man. William’s timely and ferocious cavalry charge had saved his army from disaster. Undoubtedly morale, especially among the defeated Bretons, was low. William recalled his other two divisions, halted for half an hour to regroup for another attack. This time the advance would be slower and more deliberate with the cavalry at the helm supported by archers and infantry following behind. William, taking personal charge, began the second attack at 11am. As the ground was slippery from the previous attack and littered with dead men and horses, progress was slow and hesitant.

Waves of attacks were launched against the shield wall for two hours. The Normans managed to make a few, small holes in the line but Harold and his commanders, including his brothers Gyrth (Earl of East Anglia) and Leofwine (Earl of Kent), steadied their men, plugged the gaps and showered the enemy with missiles. Harold’s Fighting Men standard and the Dragon Pennant of Wessex had been placed at the centre of the Saxon lines to encourage the defenders.

Near-Rout

Finally, by 1 pm, even the tough Flemish and French troops had had enough; they broke and began to flee from the ridge. Their commander Eustace grabbed the Papal standard, rallied his fleeing men and admonished them to return to the fight. William had already lost his Spanish charger and was fighting on foot when a rumour reached him that he was dead. Eustace gave the Duke a horse to mount and show himself to his men. William tore off his helmet so that his troops could recognise him and shouted: ‘Look at me well. I am still alive and by the grace of God shall yet prove victor!’ In reality William was losing the battle and he stared defeat in the face. Should the Saxons hold their line indefinitely then he would have been forced to retreat back to Hastings and return across the English Channel.

At 2 pm William called his men and returned them to his own lines below the ridge to re-group, rest and feed his hungry men. Harold used this respite to shorten his thinning line since Saxon losses, whatever the Normans may have thought, had been considerable and Harold was worried that he would run out of men to plug the ever rising number of holes in the line. But at least his men were more rested than the Normans who faced an ever more debris-ridden and cluttered slope as they prepared for a renewed attack.

Having lost a quarter of his army, or around 1800-1900 men, in five hours of almost continuous fighting, as well as a horrendous number of horses, cut down by the axe wielding Saxons, William saw that many of his men at arms were now fighting on foot. He decided that the whole army would attack in a single formation of all arms combined.

The third and final attack saw the entire army advance with archers at the back, from around 3pm, at a slow pace. It took the Normans an agonising half hour to reach the Saxon line. William had ordered the archers to shoot as high as possible while the infantry, dismounted knights and still mounted cavalry gave their utmost in attacking the shield wall. Finally the shield wall began to waver, break in places and then come apart under the Norman onslaught. Once a hole had been created in the wall the Norman cavalry poured through and, with their lances, swords and spears tore at the soft underbelly of the Saxon army. After 4 pm the breach became unstoppable and the fighting degenerated into group actions and hand to hand combat. This fighting went on until 5:30pm with undiminished ferocity as men fought for their lives. Then the fyrd began to retreat, fleeing into the woods while the huscarls fought on until they were overwhelmed and killed. A large group rallied around Harold’s standard as William joined his men on the ridge and had his third and final horse killed under him. Harold led his men with customary tenacity and courage, setting a personal example for his huscarls. But there were not enough of them to fight back the Normans. Gyrth and Leofwine, leading their own huscarls, were killed.

The final straw was the death of Harold himself. He was cut down by the Normans leading his few remaining huscarls. As darkness closed in on the battlefield, small groups of Saxons continued fighting until they could slip away into the surrounding countryside. They rallied and ambushed the pursuing Normans at Oakwood Gill, a small stream north of Senlac Ridge, and managed to cut down Eustace of Boulogne. That was small consolation for the death of Harold.

A Norman Monument To Harold

Battle Abbey was built on the site of the battle by the Normans. In the foreground is a plaque dedicated to Harold, which incidentally was erected on the site where he supposedly fell.

Battle Abbey was built on the site of the battle by the Normans. In the foreground is a plaque dedicated to Harold, which incidentally was erected on the site where he supposedly fell.

Aftermath

Both sides had lost more than 2000 men, the Normans well over a third of their army. For William, it was a triumph against the odds that paved the way for him being crowned as King of England on the 25th December 1066. The Saxons would continue to resist their Norman invaders for decades after their defeat at Hastings, but were eventually subdued.

Comments

zoetropo on April 02, 2018:

Thank you James for a delightfully evocative article, based I gather on Norman accounts such as William of Poitiers’ (WP).

Much has been learnt in the five years since it was published here. WP’s reliability has been questioned. For one thing, he was in Normandy when the battle occurred. Secondly, as Duke William’s chaplain he exaggerates the Duke’s prowess. Thirdly, his writings betray a deep-seated prejudice against Brittany: in one passage he rails against the prevalence of privately owned dairy farms instead of large estates manned by serfs, against the freedom of Breton men and women to marry as they please, and against the shockingly large number of armed men throughout the Duchy. We’d see these as signs of a prosperous country that valued personal liberty and was well-prepared to defend itself, but WP saw only a material and moral danger to the established feudal order.

The notion, due to Norman propagandists, that Duke William had subjugated Brittany is entirely fanciful. The campaign of 1064 was an attempt to quell the rising threat posed by Duke Conan II of Brittany, William’s cousin, who had legitimate claims to Normandy, Anjou and England. In this William was allied with his uncle Count Eudon, whom Conan had replaced as Duke. Conan was besieging Dol, a key fortress inside Eudon’s domain. In combination, William and Eudon were able to drive Conan away, and if the Bayeux Tapestry is to be believed, compel Conan to cede control of the town of Dinan.

However, Conan was undeterred. By late 1066, he had built an army strong enough to challenge his neighbours on their own turf. While William was in England, Conan attacked the border fortresses of northern Anjou, which had withstood everything William had been able to throw at them. Against Conan’s might, they swiftly fell. Then he turned northwards towards Maine and the road to Normandy. At Chateau Gontier, on 11 December 1066, Conan fell suddenly ill and died, it was said from poison administered via fresh riding gloves.

Roger of Montgomery was defending Normandy, both he and his wife Mabel of Belleme were notorious poisoners, and the poisoned riding glove was an old trick of Roger’s father’s, so I’m inclined to blame them rather than Duke William who was far away and otherwise engaged.

The BT tells an altogether different story of the battle of Hastings. It shows the Normans retreating as they hear the rumour of William’s death, only to be rallied by Bishop Odo of Bayeux before Eustace of Boulogne pointed out William on a fresh mount. (William rode to battle on a chestnut, but was now on a black horse.)

So far, that’s almost the standard Norman account, but preceding this the BT shows the Breton cavalry, not the Normans, assailing Earls Leofwine and Gyrth, with Alan Rufus personally confronting Gyrth.

This is important because the Carmen de Hastingae Proelio, a poetic account of the battle commissioned by the family of the Count of Ponthieu, whose soldiers had been in the forefront of the assault on King Harold, describes the dismounted William being attacked by Earl Gyrth. Supposedly William defeated Gyrth in single combat.

However, Domesday Book tells us not only that William and Alan divided most of Gyrth’s manors between them but also that the most valuable of these went to very minor barons such as the soldier that the BT shows stabbing Gyrth in the back with the point of a sword. I suspect these were the survivors of William’s bodyguard, desperate in his defence.

The way the BT tells us, it was the distraction caused by the charge through English ranks by Alan and his men, most of whom and their horses were slain in the effort, that saved William. Surely this was the event that Wace of Jersey was referring to when he wrote that “Alan and his men caused the English great damage”.

We know from Orderic Vitalis that Alan Rufus was subsequently appointed captain of the royal household knights and that his fame was great throughout France.

Alan is a very interesting character. He retained English men (and women) as lords in preference to Normans, won the love of Harold’s daughter Gunhildr, allied with the English to defeat a countrywide Norman baronial rebellion in 1088, and built an English fleet and army for the invasion of Normandy in 1091.

The reverse Conquest was so popular that crowds lined the Norman roads to cheer it on. King Philip I of France was so alarmed that he urgently pleaded to Pope Urban II who intervened in person to negotiate peace.

In 1089 Alan’s brother Count Stephen of Treguier opened the first English Parliament, at York.

Alan innovated castle and abbey design, built the great market and port of Boston which grew to rival London, and obtained a free trade agreement for all his tenants and employees that remained law into the reign of Charles I.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on March 05, 2013:

Thank you very much ata! I very much appreciate your kind words!!

ata1515 from Buffalo, New York. on March 05, 2013:

Great job getting the Hub of the day! It's nice to see a history hub getting the front page, especially from one of our most talented writers!

Great article too. Hastings changed the entire world, like a ripple flowing out from England.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on March 04, 2013:

No problem at all, glad to have been of help to you. You must be having a whale of time studying the early Medieval Period. Thanks for popping by.

mudpiemagnet on March 04, 2013:

Thanks for the terrific article and the documentary link. We are studying this period of history presently, and this has been really helpful.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on March 02, 2013:

Hi Chuck, thanks for popping by. It's interesting how certain dates become etched in the collective memory of a nation. As a Brit, of course 1066 is among them, but there's also 1215- the signing of the Magna Carta, 1415- Agincourt, 1588- the Spanish Armada, 1805- Trafalgar, 1815- Waterloo, 1940- Battle of Britain. There's loads of more of course, but those are the ones that spring to mind.

Thanks for the follow and the fan mail! Appreciate it!

Chuck Nugent from Tucson, Arizona on March 02, 2013:

While I am an American, my Father instilled an interest in history in me when I was first learning to read. When I became a teenager he had taken and interest in the historian and writer Thomas B. Costain and frequently talked about Costain's series of books on medieval English history which, while non-fiction, read like novels.

I read some of the Costain books my Father had and from these and other books along with two college courses in English history made me familiar with the battle of Hastings. Mention 1066 and I instantly think of the Battle of Hastings just as 1492 is the discovery by Columbus and 1776 is American independence.

You have written a great Hub which is a very readable and informative account of the Battle of Hastings. Thanks!

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on March 02, 2013:

Thank you very much, yes it does make me feel good to know that a history hub has been recognised by the HP staff. Hopefully more of us will gain the recognition that we deserve.

David Hunt from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on March 01, 2013:

Congratulations, JKenny! A history hub getting "Hub of the Day" warms the cockles of all us history hubbers' hearts. Truthfully, this is a great piece and you certainly earned the accolade. Just think how different England, Britain, Europe and the world might be if William had been defeated in that close-run battle. Great job, James.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on March 01, 2013:

Oh cool, thanks for that.

Jack Baumann from St. Louis, Missouri on March 01, 2013:

Basically the traditional account of the Normans using only the kike shield is over represented

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Hi Travelin Jack, thanks for popping by. Wow, that certainly sounds interesting. How did it go?

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much Lisa.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much, appreciate you taking the time to drop by.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Interesting to hear that you've seen the Bayeux tapestry. I remember reading recently that a group of ladies in France actually managed to complete the tapestry- 1000 years after it was started. Thanks for popping by.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much Teresa, really appreciate it!

Jack Baumann from St. Louis, Missouri on February 28, 2013:

Great hub! Love the outline, info, and pictures. I actually just had a seminar at Cardiff University debating the different usages and significance of the kike vs the round shields.

Lisa from Los Angeles, California on February 28, 2013:

It's a outstanding history hub. It seems like you've spent a plenty of time to write this hub.

khmohsin on February 28, 2013:

JKenny, You have done the great work, I really love to read about real history. Your hub is so interesting, thanks for sharing your priceless knowledge.

Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on February 28, 2013:

Very detailed and yet interesting article. You have such an engaging way of writing James that draws the reader into your hubs! Congratulations on hub of the day. It is so very well deserved!

Margaret Perrottet from San Antonio, FL on February 28, 2013:

I saw the bayeux tapestry while staying in the little town of bayeux. It was so interesting, as is this excellent hub. Congratulations on Hub of the Day. I'm glad to see one of your hubs win this since you write such well researched and well written hubs. Voted up and interesting.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much, appreciate it.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much Zia, really appreciate it.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much Dana, nice to hear from you again. :)

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Yes I agree, it just goes to show how the smallest of factors can have the biggest of consequences for the future. Makes you wonder what kind of place England would be today if it had remained under Saxon rule.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much- yes I think so too, although I have to say that it was a total surprise.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 28, 2013:

Thank you very much.

Zia Uddin from UK on February 28, 2013:

This piece of history has always been one of my favorites. Interesting to see that Harold defeated the Norwegians at Stamford Bridge. Lot of other interesting information also. Great work, voted up and keep it up.

Dana Strang from Ohio on February 28, 2013:

Congrats on your hub of the day! I have no idea why, but this was one of my favorite battles to learn about in school. This is a nice treatment of it. Always a pleasure to read your articles. :)

Music-and-Art-45 from USA, Illinois on February 28, 2013:

This is a great hub of the day. The Battle of Hastings was fascinating. I think Harold wore his men out from the previous Stamford Bridge battle and then covering the large distance between that and Hastings. If Stamford Bridge hadn't happened I believe the outcome at Hastings may have been different since Harold was winning until the end, where his army seems to have tired out. Voting up and sharing.

ParadigmEnacted on February 28, 2013:

This is already very well documented.

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on February 28, 2013:

Very interesting - especially as an HOD. Nice to see some history win this prize. Congrats!

Andrew Stewart from England on February 28, 2013:

Great hub and excellent research. A deserving hub of the day, I have voted up and intend to share. Thank you

Tijani Achamlal from Morocco on February 28, 2013:

Congrats .It is a very interesting and fascinating. Well-written.Thanks for this information.Up

Tom Schumacher from Huntington Beach, CA on February 28, 2013:

Well written! This part of history is always fascinating to learn more about. Thumbs up.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on February 28, 2013:

Congrats on your Hub of the Day! Very well deserved, you write excellent and interesting history hubs.

CZCZCZ from Oregon on February 28, 2013:

Very interesting hub. Lots of great information and love all the videos and pictures that are included.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 27, 2013:

Thank you very much NMLady, appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 27, 2013:

Thank you very much wabash annie. Really appreciate it.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 27, 2013:

Thank you very much Eddy.

NMLady from New Mexico & Arizona on February 27, 2013:

A nice read. Well written to the timeline and very understandable. History is such a wonderful story! Voted up.

wabash annie from Colorado Front Range on February 27, 2013:

Appreciate your very informative article. I have always believed that Harold should have remained king, however.

Eiddwen from Wales on February 27, 2013:

What a wonderful history lesson;I vote up,across and share all around.

Eddy.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 24, 2013:

Very true Mazzy, in fact the 'English' Monarchy continued to speak French for several centuries after the Norman victory. Meaning that, effectively a French Royal Family ruled over a Saxon population. Thanks for popping by.

Mazzy Bolero from the U.K. on February 24, 2013:

Thanks for giving us such a full account. The world would be a very different place if the Normans had lost. Most people don't even realize that Harold was the last English king who was actually English!

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 24, 2013:

Thank you very much scarytaff.

Derek James from South Wales on February 24, 2013:

Very well researched and an excellent read. Well done JKenny. Voted up and interesting.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 23, 2013:

Thank you very much Chris.

James Kenny (author) from Birmingham, England on February 23, 2013:

Thank you very much Torri, I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on February 23, 2013:

Well told James. It was a very close run thing as well.

torrilynn on February 23, 2013:

jkenny, i really love the history that you have included in your article. its seems to me to be very accurate and very informative. thanks. voted up.

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