The Battle Of Hastings begins
"Loud and far
resounded the bray of the horns and the shocks of the lances,
the mighty strokes of maces and the quick clashing of swords.
One while the Englishmen rushed on, another while they fell
back; one while the men from over sea charged onward, and
again at other times retreated.
The Normans shouted, 'Dex Aie!' ( God Help!) the English
Then came the cunning manoeuvres, the rude shocks and strokes
of the lance and blows of the swords, among the sergeants and
soldiers, both English and Norman.
When the English fall, the Normans shout. Each side taunts and
defies the other, yet neither knoweth what the other saith;
and the Normans say the English bark, because they understand
not their speech.
Some wax strong, others weak: the brave exult, but the cowards
tremble, as men who are sore dismayed. The Normans press on
the assault, and the English defend their post well; they
pierce the hauberks and cleave the shields, receive and return
Again, some press
forward, others yield; and thus, in various ways, the struggle
proceeds. In the plain was a fosse (ditch), which the Normans
had now behind them, having passed it in the fight without
regarding it. But the English charged and drove the Normans
before them till they made them fall back upon this fosse,
overthrowing into it horses and men. Many were to be seen
falling therein, rolling one over the others, with their faces
to the earth, and unable to rise.
Many of the English also, whom the Normans drew down along
with them, died there. At no time during the day's battle did
so many Normans die as perished in that fosse. So those said
who saw the dead.
The varlets who were set to guard the harness began to abandon
it as they saw the loss of the Frenchmen when thrown back upon
the fosse without power to recover themselves. Being greatly
alarmed at seeing the difficulty in restoring order, they
began to quit the harness, and sought around, not knowing
where to find shelter.
William's brother, Odo, the good priest, the Bishop of Bayeux,
galloped up and said to them:
'Stand fast! stand fast! be quiet and move not! Fear nothing; for, if God
please, we shall conquer yet.'
So they took
courage and rested where they were; and Odo returned galloping
back to where the battle was most fierce, and was of great
service on that day. He had put a hauberk on over a white aube
(a long white linen robe with tapered sleeves worn by a
priest) wide in the body, with the sleeve tight, and sat on a
white horse, so that all might recognize him. In his hand he
held a mace, and wherever he saw most need he held up and
stationed the knights, and often urged them on to assault and
strike the enemy."