Battle of Hastings Anniversary

On this day in 1066 Duke William of Normandy overcame great odds and defeated King Harold and the English on Senlac Hill in southern England, at what is now called the Battle of Hastings. The English lost, terribly, and primarily because of Harold rushing to battle. Having defeated the Norse just a couple weeks earlier at Stamford Bridge, Harold practically force-marched his men south to meet the Normans. He fought without archers and without the additional volunteers that certainly would have arrived from all around England. 


On the battlefield itself his men stood firm, until mistakes made by the men on his right flank opened up a vulnerability to the Norman cavalry. King Harold’s brothers likely commanded the right flank, but by committing the same mistake twice - charging the enemy when they should have stood firm - they brought about one of history’s greatest upsets. The traditional story is that Harold was hit in the eye by a Norman arrow, and that is very possible. Regardless of what happened, the Battle of Hastings was the first and foremost action of the Norman Conquest. While action continued on for years, that was the decisive event.

Hastings Battlefield
My first trip to England was 20 years ago, and I was able to attend the large reenactment that’s annually held on the battlefield. I witnessed a great mock battle with a huge crowd that largely cheered the English. William the Conqueror had promised to build an abbey if victorious that day, and he did keep his promise. The remnants still exist today.

 Today the battlefield is a great place to visit, and is just a train ride of an hour and a half from London’s Charing Cross Station. Leave the train at the Battle stop, and you’re a pleasant 15 or 20 minute walk from the field. I highly encourage a visit to one of the most significant places in the history of western civilization.

Battle Train Station

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