Duke William Lands at Pevensey - The Normans Invade England
The Norman invaders found an undefended sea, and an undefended coast when they reached England - the English army had marched to York to meet the Viking Invasion! William's army landed in Pevensey Bay, Sussex, at Bulverhithe, on the 28th of September 1066.
The old Norman chroniclers described the preparations of William on his landing with great vigour, they inform us how of Duke William's own ship was the first of the Norman fleet. It was called the Mora, and was the gift of his duchess Matilda. The figure head was a brazen child bearing an arrow with a drawn bow. His face was turned toward England, and he looked, as though he was about to release his arrow at England!
The ships beached, the sailors, the sergeants, and squires unloaded the ships; carried out shields and saddles, landed the war-horses and the palfreys.
Of the army, the archers came ashore first, each with his bow strung, and a quiver full of arrows at his side. All were shaven and shorn; and dressed in short garments, ready to attack, to shoot, to wheel about and skirmish. All stood well equipped and ready for the fight; and they scoured the whole shore, but found not a single armed man!
After the archers had gone ashore, the knights landed, fully armed wearing their hauberks (a long tunic made of chain mail). Their shields were slung at their necks, and their helmets laced. They formed up on the shore, each armed and mounted on his war-horse; all had their swords girded on, and rode forward into the country with their lances raised.
Then the carpenters landed, with great axes in their hands, and planes and adzes hung at their sides. The carpenters were vital to William's battle plans - they were going to build pre-constructed castles that William had shipped over in the fleet.
When Duke William himself landed, as he stepped on the shore he slipped and fell forward upon his two hands. Many of his men raised a loud cry of distress. "An evil sign," they said, "is here." But he cried out lustily: "See, my lords, by the splendor of God, I have taken possession of England with both my hands. It is now mine, and what is mine is yours." (Duke William's customary oath). This quick thinking and the ability to turn a negative event into a positive one was a major quality that Duke William possessed.