The Lost Battlefield

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3 Responses to The Lost Battlefield

  1. Andrew says:

    Geez.

    There were two huge-assed battles. Stamford Bridge – Vikings vs the English, was first. Harald vs Harold. The Brits supposedly sued for peace, the Vikings showed up in their finest sans armor, and the English fell on them. Casualties and having to run fast-assed from defeating the Vikings at Stamford did a number on many of the Fyrd – the English Militia.
    William used both cavalry and infantry, while the English line was all foot. William had to charge up, but the greater reach and more power available by the crouched lance allowed William’s cavalry to attrit the English line.
    It is pretty much acknowledged that William suckered the English Fyrd (town militias) into charging after his ‘retreating’ cavalry, and then the Normans reversed and slaughtered the Fryd. Not once, but twice and maybe even three times. Thus, the English flanks fell, only the center with the King’s Huscarls (elite warriors and nobles) held the shield wall.
    William also threw a force of Bretons out wide around the whole area to fuck with the English’s rear. An unsecured rear also probably caused some desertions.

    So, there you have it. William most likely wouldn’t have succeeded right away if not Harald (Viking king) had not gotten suckered at Stamford Bridge. Instead it would have been a much longer war, involving lots of hit-and-run cavalry raids around the primary English forces, forcing the mounted foot-soldiers of Harold Godwinson (English king) to break up into smaller forces to try to fight the spread out Normans. William would have never allowed himself to get sucked into assaulting a friggin hill fortified by a shield wall without knowing he could achieve victory. It really was William assuming he could just wear the English down, and he nearly lost his ass over it.

    If you think this assessment is screwy, well, William the Bastard achieved both a tactical and strategic victory against his own uncles at Val-es-Dunes when he was a teenager, using the rapid maneuver of his cavalry forces to slice his more stagnant enemy to pieces. Basically the same plan he pushed through at Hastings, and would have used even more effectively if Harold hadn’t had to run up to Stamford Bridge.

    Weird. And to think it was all about William’s Norman grand-relatives getting totally hosed by the then Viking/Anglo-Saxon nobles in England. William’s royal ties through ‘blood’ were actually there, as he was related to Edward the Confessor, the English king that died on January 5, 1066. The Godwin clan forced a political move through the English political system and pushed Harold Godwinson into the kingship. Interestingly, Harald Hadrada had also blood-ties to Edward the C, and was supported by Tostig Godwinson, Harold the King’s brother.

    Neither Godwin (the parent of the two, Harold and Tostig) or his Godwin-sons had any blood relation to Edward. In fact, in early 1060ish, Edward the King had banished Godwin and his sons from the English court due to their backhanded rabble rousing (think Clinton Crime Syndicate, and you’re not too far off.) Godwin and his family pushed back into power when Edward started getting too frail to rule, and had no clear successor (in England) chosen, and was looking at William, Duke of Normandy (the Bastard) to fill his seat. Curiously, at the time, the nobles got to vote who was their king, and thus the nobles were able to circumvent Edward’s wishes and put Harold up for the throne.

    William really was a bastard. His father, Robert, Duke of Normandy, screwed a tanner’s daughter who was not married to Robert (DoN)(her name was Herleva) out of wedlock, and produced not just William, but Odo and Robert (Jr.). The Normans were cool with all that stuff, being just mellow rich Vikings with castles and big horses and shit like that. Robert (Jr.) served well back in Normandy watching over Williams lands while he was away and Odo became Bishop of Bayeux (the place where the Bayeux Tapestry comes from) and Odo was a total badass and fought next to William, but used a damned mace, along with lance, to do his killing.

    William and Odo are both portrayed on the Bayeux Tapestry (which is actually an Embroidery, but that’s not nearly as sexy sounding), along with Harold G.

    Really interesting is back before banishing the Godwins from his court, supposedly Edward (KoE) sent Harold Godwinson (who was a real slick dude, much like Bill Clinton) to William to say that when Edward died, the throne was William’s, AND William had Harold swear over a baptismal font full of Saints’ bones that Harold would support William. (This is seen on the opening scenes of the Bayeux Tapestry, by the way. I highly recommend looking up that artwork. Really cool.)

    So the whole justification of William’s Conquest of England was, 1. He was related to Edward (and Harold was not.) 2. Edward promised the throne to him (who cares about the English nobility selecting the crown, pshaw.) and 3. Harold swore that he would support William as rightful King of England.

    It surprises me not that the battlefield would be difficult to find. First, weapons and armor were friggin expensive, and the Tapestry clearly shows William’s troops stripping armor and weapons off the dead (from both sides, one would assume.) Second, after the last of the Plantagenets, the succeeding royal dynasties did what they could to fuddle the history books, especially the Tudors, who did a very good job of screwing over every previous royal back all the way to Roman times.

    • rick says:

      Well, la de da. just kidding. You seem to have a fine grasp on things.

      Should those men be resurrected to stick pikes on the whole bloody lot of today’s Parliament. That would be a well and good beginning.

  2. Dai says:

    I love Time Team.

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