The Battle of Stamford Bridge
Earl Tostig and Harald Hardrada were celebrating their victory at York but by means of a remarkably rapid four day forced march, King Harold and his army reached Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire by the 25th of September 1066. The rapid response by Harold and his mounted Housecarls must have taken the enemy by complete surprise.
King Harold rode up and offered his banished brother, Tostig, his earldom back if he would lay down his arms and join him, Tostig asked what English lands Harald Hardrada of Norway could expect if he dismissed his Viking army. King Harold's reply was that 'he would offer Harald seven foot of good English soil, or as much as he needed as he was taller than other men'!
The Norse King and his confederates had been taken by surprise. The battle which followed, fought adjacent to Stamford Bridge, was desperate and long. King Harold, unable to break the ranks of the Norwegian's by force, eventually tricked them into breaking ranks by a feigned retreat.
The English columns suddenly turned, and it is believed that King Harald Hardrada received a fatal arrow through the neck. Shortly after all of the upper echelons of his Viking nobility were killed. The treacherous Earl Tostig was also killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. The English army decimated the Vikings. It was a total victory for King Harold.
The Battle of Stamford Bridge was so decisive that only 25 ships returned to Norway form the original fleet of over 300. As a result of this crushing defeat Norway ceased to be able to raise an effective military force for the next 25 years.
Harold's victory was total, but at the cost of the lives of many of his best officers and men, and even worse the advantage Duke William had gained due to his unopposed landing on the Sussex coast...