The Battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings

Harold Godwinson, the future king of England, was sailing on a ship off the coast of southern England when a tempest drove him away from shore. He and his fellow sailors were stranded on the coast of France. There he and his companions were found by Duke William of Normandy, a man who aspired to the throne of England.

William forced Harold to swear on top of the holy relics of saints that he would give the throne to William after he was crowned. Harold, under ‘the point of a sword,’ swore it. Harold was then allowed to go back to England. After a time, when the old king died, Harold was chosen by the people and they would accept no other.

He could not refuse and so he broke his oath.

Then Harold of Norway invaded the north of England with Tostig, the traitorous brother of Harold of England. Harold of England went out to fight with his best soldiers. In the battle that followed, Harold of Norway and Tostig were both killed and the English won. But Harold had, in the process, lost half of his army, which he would need before long.

Then the weary, footsore soldiers had to march all the way back down to the south, for William of Normandy, furious that Harold had not kept his promise, was invading with a huge army.

They met at the Field of Hastings where there was a hill, which the English immediately took possession of. The Normans tried to fight their way up, but could not go through the solid line of house-carls (a type of soldier who stood in a line with their shields in front of them).

Finally, a stray arrow hit the king in the eye, and he fell dead. But the stubborn, war-enraged army fought on, only to lose at sunset.

The victorious Normans marched to the capital, where William of Normandy was crowned king.

These two battles were legendary epics, famous all over the world. Some think that Harold should have won the struggle; some think William won it by right. These two battles, whatever the outcome, make their honorable place in the history books.

 

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