When Was the Battle of Hastings?
The Battle of Hastings was fought on October 14, 1066, on a ridge 07 miles (11 kilometres) northwest of Hastings in Sussex, England, and was a decisive Norman victory. The events which led to the battle began when William, Duke of Normandy, in France, extracted a promise from Harold Godwinson, chief minister of the Saxon king Edward the Confessor, that he would support the Norman’s succession to the English throne.
When Edward died on January 5, 1066 and Harold was chosen king by an assembly of nobles and citizens, William decided to seize what he claimed was his by right. In September, while the Normans were still waiting for the wind to change to carry them across the English Channel, Harold had to march northwards into Yorkshire to repulse an invasion led by Harald Hardrada, the seven foot king of Norway.
The Saxons crushed the invaders in a desperate battle at Stamford Bridge, but Harold was still in York when he received the news that William’s army had landed near Hastings. He instantly hurried south, mobilized a new largely untrained, army of about 10,000 men and led them against the Normans 7,000 strong.
During the battle Harold defended a piece of high ground protected by a barricade. At first the two-handed Saxon battle axes beat back the Norman attacks. But William triumphed with cunning generalship, luring the Saxons from their strong positions by pretended retreats and ordering his archers to aim high in the air so that their arrows fell on heads unprotected by the wall of shields.
A chance arrow killed Harold and as darkness fell, the English survivors scattered. On December 25, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England in London on Christmas Day 1066.
There continued to be rebellions and resistance to William’s rule, but Hastings effectively marked the culmination of William’s conquest of England. Casualty figures are hard to come by, but some historians estimate that 2,000 invaders died along with about twice that number of Englishmen. William founded a monastery at the site of the battle, the high altar of the abbey church supposedly placed at the spot where Harold died.