A rousing historical narrative of the best-known and arguably most significant battle in English history.
The effects of the Battle of Hastings were deeply felt at the time, causing a lasting shift in British cultural identity and national pride. Jim Bradbury explores the full military background of the battle and investigates both what actually happened on that fateful day in 1066 and the role that the battle plays in the British national myth.
The Battle of Hastings starts by looking at the Normans—who they were, where they came from—and the career of William the Conqueror before 1066. Next, the narrative turns to the Saxons in England, and to Harold Godwineson, successor to Edward the Confessor, and his attempts to create unity in the divided kingdom. This provides the background to an examination of the military development of the two sides up to 1066, detailing differences in tactics, arms, and armor. The core of the book is a move-by-move reconstruction of the battle itself, including the advance planning, the site, the composition of the two armies, and the use of archers, feigned retreats, and the death of Harold Godwineson.
In looking at the consequences of the battle, Jim Bradbury deals with the conquest of England and the ongoing resistance to the Normans. The effects of the conquest are also seen in the creation of castles and developments in feudalism, and in links with Normandy that revealed themselves particularly in church appointments. This is the first time a military historian has attempted to make accessible to the general reader all that is known about the Battle of Hastings and to present as detailed a reconstruction as is possible.
Furthermore, the author places the battle in the military context of eleventh-century Europe, painting a vivid picture of the combatants themselves—soldiery, cavalry, and their horses—as they struggled for victory. This is a book that any reader interested in England’s history will find indispensable.