no edit summary
In most historical accounts the Battle of Hastings is shown to be so decisive that it ended all resistance and that William was able to impose his iron will on England. In fact, while the Battle was decisive it did not crush all resistance. The English nobles had submitted to William before his coronation as King in Westminster Abbey in 1066. Norman control was not secure, and the sons of Harold raided the coast of England from Ireland and there were sporadic revolts against William I. In 1069 the Danes landed in northern England to support a rebellion by the Northern Anglo-Saxon Earls. The Norman king was forced to pay the Danes to leave England. When the rebels refused to do battle, William the Conqueror launched a scorched earth policy, which caused a famine. This came to be known as the Harrying of the North and some modern writers claim that it was tantamount to an act of genocide against the local population. The myth that the Battle of Hastings was the end of the conquest is not borne out by the facts. <ref>Lawson, p 118</ref> Indeed it was only in 1070 with the suppression of the Northern Earls that the conquest of the Normans is said to be complete.
There are many myths around the Battle of Hastings. The first is that it was a contest for the crown of England between two rival claimants, in fact, the battle was an illegitimate bid for power by the Norman king who has only at best a tenuous claim. Then there is the incorrect belief that the march of the Anglo-Saxon army was the main reason for the defeat of Harold’s army. In fact, the army was rested before the battle that was fought on
an Autumn day. Then there is the widespread assumption that the death of the English king was responsible for the Norman victory. The brilliant strategy of a feigned retreat gave William I a decisive victory. The accepted version of the death of Harold II is that he was killed by an arrow to the eye, but in truth, no-one knows for certain how he died. Another common misconception is that William’s victory in 1066 ended all English resistance and in reality, it was to be at least another four years before he controlled all of his new realm.