1066 - French horsepower broke England

Peter Nicolai Arbo
England
The English king Edward the confessor had died the 5th January 1066, and then earl Harold Godwinson was proclaimed king at  Westminster Abbey the day after the 6th.

It was a problem that the old king had promised both Harold and William "Bastard" of Normandy the seat of the throne before he died. Both men were distant relatives to the childless Edward the confessor. When William heard of it he quickly raised an army.

The infamous last viking king Harald Hardrada also claimed the English throne and he was faster than William the bastard, and 18th September landed on the beaches of Scarborough and began an attempt to gain the English throne on September 20 he fought at the Battle of Fulford: and he defeated the northern English earls Edwin and Walther. 2 days later Harald Hardrada attacked York.

Harold Godwindson won the battle and Harald Hadrada was was killed at Stamford Bridge, Olav Kyrre became the new king after his father Harald Hardrada died.
The English army had no time to rest it had to move quickly to South England where the Normans was expected to arrive.
Battle of Stamford bridge
Duke William of Normandy
Duke William of Normandy was so nervous in the morning of 14th October that he had put on his coat with the wrong side up. His men looked at him with disapproval as it was a bad day for their leader to show insecurity. 18 days before he had landed with his army on the South English coast with an impressive force of 7500 men.
The Normans scout had reported that the English army, that was commanded by Harold Godwinson had placed themselves on top of a hill only a few km away.

From the hilltop Edward Godwinson could see that the Normans moved forward in 3 columns. Harold ordered his cavalry to dismount their horses and form a living shield wall against the attackers. William replied with an archer attack on the shield wall and then he let his footmen attack. The attackers were handicapped, because they had to attack up a hill, the Norman foot soldiers were then repulsed. Also the Norman cavalry attack was repulsed. The battle fought for many hours, but the Normans had found a weakness in the English tactics. Several times units from the shield wall had stormed after the Normans, when they had to retreat down the hill.

William then ordered a group of cavalry to attack and then quickly retreat. A big group of English followed them, but suddenly the riders turned around and cut off the possibility to retreat to the shield wall. The English rashness was punished merciless all the surrounded men was killed by the knights. The Normans continued their successful tactics all over the front, and when they had killed many Englishmen, they broke the English columns and then Norman knights had a easy match against the English infantry. The English panicked and according to the Norman bishop Guy of Amiens "They stood so close that the dead could not fall" then Harold Godwinson was shot with an arrow through his eye, a Norman knight put his sword through Harold`s body, the English army totally dissolved. William now got the nickname the Conqueror. On Christmas day he was crowned king of England
Denmark
A pagan Slavic rebellion broke out, the leader of the Obrotrites, Gotskalk, who was married to Sweyn Estridsons daughter Sigrid was killed. Cruelty and looting followed and church people was sacrificed on pagan altars. A last attack on Hedeby from a Slavic army made the citizens finally abandon the town. The survivors probably moved across the Schlei inlet, which separates the two peninsulas of Angeln and Schwansen, and founded the town of Schleswig. The Saxon lords could not resist the attacks and Hamburg was also burned down.

Sweyn Estridsson made a last attempt to conquer England 3 years later with 240 ships, he managed to capture York but William the conqueror bribed the Danish leader Asbjoern and he used the scorched earth tactic, and the vikings had to retreat from England.