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Fact and fiction the Battle of Hastings (1066)?

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[[File: Hastings 2.jpg |200px|thumb|left|A scene from the Bayeux tapestry showing Norman knights charging the shield-wall]]
==The course of the battlereason for Harold's defeat==The Anglo-Saxons were forced to march south at speed in the wake of their victory over the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada and Anglo-Saxon allies at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. This was a bloody clash and the forces of Harold suffered many casualties even though they decisively defeated the Viking army. Then the victors at Stamford Bridge had to make a forced march from the north of England to the south coast and it is widely argued that this was a contributory factor in the Anglo-Saxon defeat. However, not all historians agree with this and they point out to the fact that the army of Harold fought very well during the battle. Indeed, even in the Norman accounts they all show the Anglo-Saxons as fighting fiercely, from early morning until the evening. Based on the distance between the two battles it would seem that the Anglo-Saxon army marched 27 miles (39 km) a day, but that they had a day’s rest before the battle <ref>Marren, p 201</ref>. Indeed, Harold was able to seize the high ground and establish a strong defensive position on the battlefield. It is not correct to state that the fact that the Anglo-Saxons were tired after their forced march and earlier battle and that this led to their defeat at the hands of the Normans.  
==The course of the Battle of Hastings==
The heavy infantry of the English was famous, and they carried long spears and shields. Harold’s Anglo-Saxons used their traditional battle tactic of a shield-wall. They would stand side-by-side and their interlocking shields would form a solid wall. The shield-wall was very difficult to break down and it was a tactic that had been used very successful by Alfred the Great against the Vikings. The infantry of Harold II set up a shield-wall on a hill and broken ground and they were in a very strong position. This is agreed to have been the right decision. The Normans had to inflict a defeat on the English as they were in enemy territory and had only a limited amount of supplies <ref> Morillo, Stephen. "Hastings: an unusual battle." In Medieval Warfare 1000–1300, (London, Routledge, 2017) pp. 313-321 </ref>. This meant that William the Conqueror’s army was forced to go on the offensive and it was essential that he broke the massed ranks of the heavy infantry of Harold. The Normans knew that if they broke the formation of the Anglo-Saxons that they would be victorious. From the early morning of the 18th of October, William attacked the Anglo-Saxon shield wall. The had numerical superiority in cavalry and the Norman knights were among the finest in Europe. They still failed to break the shield-wall. Then William ordered his archers to unleash volleys of arrows at the enemy’ s line. They were mostly Bretons and acknowledged to be great archers, but they could not break the English lines. Norman and even some Anglo-Saxon sources claim that the decisive moment in the battle was the feigned retreat of the Normans invaders. William ordered his men to retreat and this tempted the Anglo-Saxons to break their defensive formation and go on the offensive <ref>Bachrach, Bernard S. "The feigned retreat at Hastings." Mediaeval Studies 33 (1971): 344-347 </ref>. They left the high ground and the shield-wall was no longer intact. The Normans wheeled round and engaged the onrushing English, who were very exposed. The cavalry of William was able to inflict terrible casualties on the army of Harold II and this was to turn the battle decisively in favor of the Normans<ref> Morillo, p 318</ref>.

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