The Battle Of Hastings dawns
On Saturday, the
14th of October the great Battle of Hastings dawned.
The King Harold
and the Anglo-Saxons had no cavalry and few archers but formed
a tight shield wall with the Housecauls and their Danish
battle-axes at the ready (a two-handed, long-handled battle
axe with a heavy chopping head) together with their long
double-edged swords. The levies were equipped with missiles,
spears and hammers.
were separated into three columns. The Bretons were on the
left, the Normans were in the middle & Flemings were
positioned on the right. At the head of each column stood
archers, behind whom there were ranks of infantry and cavalry.
The battle began with William's archers opening fire followed
by an infantry assault.
It is not
difficult to compose a narrative of its principal incidents
from the historical information which we possess, especially
if aided by an examination of the ground. But it is far better
to adopt the spirit-stirring words of the old chroniclers, who
wrote while the recollections of the battle were yet fresh,
and while the feelings and prejudices of the combatants yet
glowed in the bosoms of living men.
Robert Wace, the Norman poet, is the most picturesque and
animated of the old writers, and from him we can obtain a more
vivid and full description of the conflict than even the most
brilliant romance-writer of the present time can supply.
We have also an
antique memorial of the battle more to be relied on than
either chronicler or poet (and which confirms Wace's narrative
remarkably) in the celebrated Bayeux tapestry, which
represents the principal scenes of Duke William's expedition
and of the circumstances connected with it, in minute though
occasionally grotesque details, and which was undoubtedly the
production of the same age in which the battle took place.
Whether we admit or reject the legend that Queen Matilda and
the ladies of her court wrought it with their own hands in
honor of the royal Conqueror The Norman host is pouring forth
from its tents, and each troop and each company is forming
fast under the banner of its leader. The masses have been
sung, which were finished betimes in the morning; the barons
have all assembled round Duke William; and the Duke has
ordered that the army shall be formed in three divisions, so
as to make the attack upon the Saxon position in three
Let us therefore
suffer the old Norman chronicler to transport our imaginations
to the fair Sussex scenery northwest of Hastings, as it
appeared on that October morning.