A Analytical Review Of The Battle Of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings was one of the, if not the most tragic, known wars of the Middle Ages. Tragically occurring on the 14th of October 1066, It consisted of two mighty warriors who battled it to the point of death, not only to claim the English throne, but to prove the world their prominence. Starting early in the morning and fighting all day is something that not a lot of generals would want their troops to do. The battle ended later that night, and it was devastating. More than half of the armies were buried in their burial grounds, and that figure rose later that night. Harold Godwinson believed he had taken the throne, but he had one mighty hero standing in his way. That soldier went by the name William of Normandy. William won the Battle of Hastings skilfully using many battle tactics including the Feigned Retreat, but many also argue that he had also some luck on his side.

The only way to determine who was going to be the king was to go to war, and that is exactly where they went. Harold’s skill was no match to William and his army. This is because William used very important battle tactics which if he did not use, the result might have been a different story. Harold lost the battle even though he was in a stronger position on the frontline and had muscular, faithful troops. William was more superior to Harold since Harold had already battled alongside the Normans in 1064, mindful of their strategies, he still used the strong old Anglo-Saxon shield wall. After the first Norman attack had failed, a section of the Norman army had slipped from the Norman line running backwards in an effort to carry out a master plot to attack Harold on the back foot. The Normans turned and killed every Anglo-Saxon who was pursuing them. Instead of diving in for the attack, King Harold could have waited for an extra 20-30,000 extra troops from the South-side, but he chose to thoughtlessly go straight for Hastings.

Another red-hot reason why William skilfully prevailed was that he was way more trained, after landing in Pevensey Bay he had more than two weeks to prepare and train. His men were well fed and well rested which also helped with the success that William got. Harold on the other hand had just clashed with Harold Hardrada at the Stamford Bridge battle and had to march back down south to fight William. Even though some of his armies had been killed, others wounded, and they were all wary of the long march ahead of them. William explained “I have persecuted its native inhabitants beyond all reason. Whether gentle or simple, I have cruelly oppressed them; many I unjustly inherited; Innumerable multitudes, especially in the county of York, perished through me by famine or the sword." – William the Conqueror. (sites.google.com, 19/6/2021). Harold had the advantage of going into the fight just because he was on home soil. Being on a hill was a boost for his army having marshes of soldiers on either side of the battlegrounds. 

However, William of the Normans would have fought an army of Harold’s twice as big if he invaded in the Summer instead of Spring. But the winds were overpowering through the channel. Harold dying was a crucial part in the battle and how it transformed the result to an easy victory for William. If Harold never died, the battle would have continued the next day. Harold and his men were very tired when they walked back south to Hastings and that is a crucial fact why they did not do well in the battle overall. A lot of Harold’s army were peasants whilst William had skilled soldiers with fine weaponry. William was always on the front foot having lots of superior weaponry and faithful men in armour.  It was there on the morning of October 14, that William "came upon him by surprise before his peoples were marshalled." (The Battle of Hastings, 2o21) 

There is no doubt that William completely outsmarted Harold in many ways, shapes, and forms. However, do not forget that there was skill involved as well. If Harold never fought at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, if he never had to walk down south and if Harold were prepared, who knows who would have won, but It would have been one good fight. What I am trying to say is that William obviously showed us why he should have been king from the start, even though battling Harold and his army were easily the easiest fight. He still showed passion, commitment, hard work and dedication with his teamwork and ran all over them like a dog on a bone.


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