Hastings, battle of

views updated May 14 2018

Hastings, battle of, 1066. Fought on 14 October at what is now Battle (Sussex), where William the Conqueror ordered the construction of an abbey to commemorate his decisive victory over King Harold Godwineson. Much is obscure about the course of the battle, although several crucial features can be deduced from the Bayeux Tapestry and other contemporary sources. The core of Harold's army had marched south in under three weeks after its victory at Stamford Bridge. It must have been tired and was undoubtedly surprised by the speed at which William advanced to force battle. The two armies were probably almost evenly matched numerically, but William's contained cavalry, whereas Harold's did not. An apparent lack of archers made the English excessively passive. A mixture of genuine and feigned retreats by William's army appears to have disrupted the packed English forces by drawing them down from their defensive position on the ridge where the town of Battle now stands. King Harold's death, late in the day as the Normans poured through the English ranks, ensured that the battle would be decisive, despite attempts to organize English resistance around the young Edgar the Atheling.

David Richard Bates

Hastings, Battle of

views updated May 17 2018

Hastings, Battle of a decisive battle which took place in 1066, on a ridge called Senlac, just north of the town of Hastings, East Sussex. William the Conqueror ( William I) defeated the forces of the Anglo-Saxon king Harold II; Harold died in the battle, leaving the way open for William to seize London and the vacant throne and leading to the subsequent Norman Conquest of England. Battle Abbey was founded by William to give thanks for his victory.

Hastings, Battle of

views updated May 11 2018

Hastings, Battle of (October 14, 1066) Engagement fought near Hastings, se England, by King Harold II of England against the invasion of William, Duke of Normandy. The Norman victory and death of Harold marked the end of the Anglo-Saxon monarchy and produced a social revolution.