Battle of Hastings (1066)

Battle of Hastings (1066)

The battle ended with the victory of William the Conqueror´s Norman army over the English.



Battle of Hastings, Hastings, William the Conqueror, battle, war, Harold II, English army, Norman army, warfare, archers, cavalry, Senlac Hill, Middle Ages, infantry, attack, history

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Stage 1 (October 14, 1066, morning)

The Anglo-Saxon King Harold II, drew up his army near Hastings, on the Senlac Hill. On the south-facing ridge of the hill, his infantrymen and dismounted cavalrymen formed a 600- to 800-meter-long (1,969-2,625-foot-long) shield wall. The lines protected by overlapping shields resembled a ´battlefield fortress.´ The Norman Duke, William the Conqueror, wanted to be king of England, so he placed his experienced, battle-hardened soldiers on the field in front of the hill.

Stage 2 (October 14, 1066, before noon)

The battle began with William´s army firing arrows at the English. Using their shields, the English force blocked the arrow fire and held their position. Then, the Norman archers and infantrymen charged the English infantry, but were unable to make any headway. The Norman infantry began to give way, as the battle seemed hopeless. English losses were minimal.

Stage 3 (October 14, 1066, before noon and afternoon)

Next, the attacks were continued by the cavalry positioned in one front line, but divided into three groups. At the center was the cavalry led by William himself, on the left were the Bretons and on the right stood cavalrymen from Boulogne and Flanders. Although William´s cavalry charged bravely uphill, all further waves of attack failed. Unlike most of the battles of that time, the battle was extremely prolonged. Both sides suffered few losses, and casualties were low on both sides.

Stage 4 (October 14, 1066, afternoon and evening)

William deployed one of the most common of tactics, but one difficult to carry out. A part of his cavalry feigned flight. The English, however, began to pursue the Normans only after their second retreat. The Normans encircled and mowed down any English cavalrymen who were not in formation. Harold ordered his soldiers to lock their shields together to form a new wall, but, this time, the Norman arrow fire proved effective (the king was also injured). William´s cavalry outflanked the weakened wall and a terrible massacre followed.

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