01/16/2018 (Tue) 19:52:20
Now this part will be exciting.
The Year of the Three Battles and the Two Dead Kings
A.D. 1066. ... But, ere King Harold could come thither, the Earls Edwin and Morkar had gathered from their earldoms as great a force as they could get, and fought with the enemy. They made a great slaughter too; but there was a good number of the English people slain, and drowned, and put to flight: and the Northmen had possession of the field of battle. ... Thither came Harold, king of the English, unawares against them beyond the bridge; and they closed together there, and continued long in the day fighting very severely. ... There was slain Harald the Fair-hair'd, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty, and a multitude of people with them, both of Normans and English; and the Normans that were left fled from the English, who slew them hotly behind; until some came to their ships, some were drowned, some burned to death, and thus variously destroyed; so that there was little left: and the English gained possession of the field. But there was one of the Norwegians who withstood the English folk, so that they could not pass over the bridge, nor complete the victory. An Englishman aimed at him with a javelin, but it availed nothing. Then came another under the bridge, who pierced him terribly inwards under the coat of mail. And Harold, king of the English, then came over the bridge, followed by his army; and there they made a great slaughter, both of the Norwegians and of the Flemings. ... Meantime Earl William came up from Normandy ... This was then told to King Harold; and he gathered a large force, and came to meet him at the estuary of Appledore. William, however, came against him unawares, ere his army was collected; but the king, nevertheless, very hardly encountered him with the men that would support him: and there was a great slaughter made on either side. There was slain King Harold, and Leofwin his brother, and Earl Girth his brother, with many good men: and the Frenchmen gained the field of battle, as God granted them for the sins of the nation.
Well known story of course, the Battles of Fulford, Stamford Bridge and Hastings, but some snippets of useful info for us.
First battle, Earl Edwin and Merkar vs Hardrada and Tostig: "good number of the English people slain, and drowned, and put to flight" - the picture of drowning men resurfaced.
Second battle, H. Godwinson vs Hardrada and Tostig: "the Normans that were left fled from the English, who slew them hotly behind" - quite explicit confession. I can imagine King Harold's personal retinue not having any problem while slaughtering them casually.
Very nice the story of the lone Viking holding the bridge until he was overrun by Godwinson and his bodyguard.
Third battle, King Harold vs William the future conqueror: boooooooring.