1066 - French horsepower broke England

Peter Nicolai Arbo
England
5th January 1066,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,

8th September,1066 240-300  Viking ships landed on the beaches of Scarborough and began an attempt to gain the English throne.

20th September,1066 Battle of Fulford: Harald Hardrada defeated the northern English earls Edwin and Walther. 2 days later Harald Hardrada attacked and conquered York.
24th September,1066 Harold Godwinson arrived after marching more than 300 km from London.
25th September,1066 Battle of Stamford bridge
Battle of Stamford bridge
Harald  Hardrada went berserk at the battle of Stamford Bridge but it did not help.
Harold Godwindson won the battle against his brother Tostig and Harald Hadrada, who was both 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.

Duke William of Normandy
28th September,1066  William the conqueror arrived with 700 ships at Pevensey

A sign from the sky
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle wrote that, around Easter time, “a portent such as men had never seen was seen in the heavens”. Visible for a week, it was described by some as the “long-haired star”. According to the Bayeux tapestry, this long-haired star was bad news for poor Harold Godwinson. As his compatriots look up at the comet with wonder, the English king is portrayed being warned  by a figure, presumably an astrologer, that the comet is an omen of doom. William , on the other hand, regarded it as a positive portent – though that, of course, was in retrospect.

Battle of Hastings did not take place in Hastings,the battle was fought at Senlac Hill 10km north-west of Hastings.

14th October,1066 Duke William of Normandy was nervous in the morning 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 combined East Slavic army made the citizens finally abandon the town. The survivors 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 used the scorched earth tactic, and the vikings had to retreat from England.