October is full of battle anniversaries and this one is extremely important. The history of this country and, let us not mince matters, of Europe changed on October 14, 1066 when William, Duke of Normandy and his French/Viking army defeated Harold Godwinson and his Anglo-Saxon army. The battle lasted the whole day, which as this article points out, is a long time for mediaeval engagements. Both sides fought valiantly, with the Normans finally securing victory by pretending to retreat.
The article has one of those jocular titles that we have all become used to: Battle of Hastings 950 year anniversary: the 9 things you might not know. Well, the first thing we might not know is that the anniversary falls on Saturday as it does not – it falls on Friday, that is today. The second thing we might not know, though too many people believe it, is that it was the last successful invasion of England. For some reason Henry Tudor’s invasion with a French army, bolstered by some traitors and William of Orange bringing over far more Hollanders than expected are always forgotten.
Today, we must think of the Battle of Hastings, its place in the various changes in Europe in the eleventh century, the Viking expansion and the history of England as it emerged from the continuing battle between the Normans and Saxons. Here is another account and a more detailed one. But, perhaps, the best written and most imaginative interpretation of the tale are the first four stories and poems in Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill.