Bayeux Tapestry Experience Rachel Louderback HUM111 Professor Lafferty May 27, 2012 It was an honor to fight for Duke William’s right to be crowned King in the battle of Hastings on the 14th of October 1066. The battle of Hastings was one of the most memorable and successful battles that I have ever participated in as a Norman soldier. The Duke of Normandy, William, prepared for the battle against the King of England, Harold, months in advance. It all started after the death of King Edward, the Confessor died the 5th of January 1066 without an official heir to the throne (BBC, 2011).
The day after King Edwards death, Harold claimed the throne to be King Harold II of England, illegally. Once Duke William heard of this news, he set out to gather his army and seek the approval of the Pope to become England’s next rightful King. Months had gone by after volunteering to go to war with the English Saxons. Us soldiers have been working hard in the preparations of the ships we are going to use to sail across the Channel. Each day, more and more soldiers arrive to help in the preparations of this battle.
Duke William has separated the men into groups to help the process of building the ships, the weapons and gathering the supplies needed in this battle. The smell of fresh wood being cut and the sounds of the ships being put together makes me more anxious to go to battle. The days seem to becoming warmer and longer and the ships are almost done being built. Finally, the day had come, Duke William had announced that the Norman soldiers were going to move out. We set sail on a hot day in July with Mora, the head ship ahead of the fleet.
She was a beauty to look at, she was given a carved dragon figurehead on the prow, and a trumpeter sounding signal at its stern (BBC, 2011). The fleet, consisting of almost 700 ships, moved north to Dives before we crossed the Channel. Duke William was waiting for the news of King Harold’s brother, Tostig, making his move in Northumbria, England (BBC, 2011). Days has gone by as us soldiers started to set up camp in Dives awaiting the command from Duke Williams to move out. Us soldiers were never given the length in time we were going to be at this camp.
Our time here was spent building parts of wooden castles that we were to take with us to the battle field. The smell of freshly cut wood once again made me and the other soldiers anxious to go into battle. While building and preparing ourselves for battle, some of us soldiers spoke of the land that Duke William had promised us when we conquered England. At one point it felt like I was never going to receive that land as for the days kept going by and no news of moving out had been spoken of. As the days went on, I noticed they started to become cooler.
Finally late September, Duke Williams received the news that Harald Hardrada and Tostig launched their invasion of Northumbria. Our day to invasion of the south was coming fast. It was just a few days after Duke Williams received the great news that our fleet of ships set sail. We all worked hard to load the ships with weapons, armor, pre-built wooden castles, food and drinks. The smell of the sea air never smelt any better than it did on that day. Battle was coming near and the promised land was just out of reach for me and the other soldiers.
The sun was just about rising when our fleet landed in southern England near Hastings and it never looked anymore beautiful then it did on that day. William at once started commanding orders to us soldiers. He ordered that some of the boats be burnt, while the rest were to be dismantled and pulled ashore (BBC, 2011). I moved as quickly as possible to unload the ship I was sailing on. The reality of battle was starting to sink in, but I knew that Duke William had a plan and we were going to conquer England.
Once the ships were unloaded and dismantled, us Norman soldiers geared up and prepared to march into the surrounding towns. I would never forget the look on the towns peoples face when we arrived on our horses with torches in our hands and axes in the other. At once we started to light the town on fire and kill anyone who was in our way. The smell of fire and death was overpowering. Blood and pieces of body parts filled the streets, the sound of crying children and screaming women along with the sound of the fire filled the air.
The start of our battle had begun, King Harold would be retreating to Hastings soon to defend his people. The days followed, we constructed our pre-built wooden castles in Hastings and continued to make our presence known in what was left of the surrounding towns. The 14th of October 1066 was the day we Norman soldiers had prepared for in the past nine months. Wearing my chain-mail shirt, metal helmet with my kite shield strapped to my left arm and holding my axe in my right hand, I jumped on my black horse with the rest of the Norman soldiers and moved forward towards the Saxon soldiers.
In the distance we spotted the Saxons as the marched towards us. The sound of their marching along with our soldiers and horses marching towards one another was a very powerful sound. Duke William shouted the order for our archers to start shooting off arrows towards the Saxons to get the battle started. All of a sudden, I heard the sound running and yelling as I had ordered my horse to run forward. Slowly, one by one the archers were killing off the enemy. The sound of men being killed started to be heard in all directions.
I started to swing my axe at anyone that came close to my horse and me. Cutting off arms and heads and seeing blood and lifeless bodies everywhere was a scene I would never forget. Then the Saxon soldiers created a shield wall which made it hard for us Norman soldiers to get through. Hours had gone by and all we could do was to keep charging the Saxon’s shield wall in hope to break through it. I could feel my strength start to weaken and then heard the order to retreat back down the hill. Once we reached the bottom of the hill, Duke William noticed some of the Saxons coming towards us.
They had broken their shield wall and all of a sudden new strength had overcome my body as we turned ourselves around and attacked once again. I rode among the Saxons, hacking them down on my horse and it never felt better to do so. Soon, I seen the Saxon soldiers retreating as Duke William rode with a dead King Harold on his horse symbolizing that us Norman soldiers had won the battle. Victory never felt any better for the rightful person was going to finally claim the throne as King. Duke William was able to claim what was rightfully his just a few months after the battle of Hastings.
The former King Edward had made a promise to Duke William years prior to the battle of Hastings for the rightfulness of the throne upon his death. Not only was there a promise but Duke Williams was King Edwards second cousin which made his blood royal. Harold of Wessex had married King Edward’s sister which didn’t give him the rights to the throne. Harold’s blood wasn’t royal and he was crowned King of England illegally. The battle of Hastings should be remembered by the date changing the course of British history. Before the battle, England wasn’t connected to Europe in the eyes of the people.
The Bayeux Tapestry represents the battle of Hastings in the view of the Normans. It marks the day that England would be changed forever. References Ibeji, M. (February 17, 2011). British History. BBC. co. uk. Retrieved May 24, 2012 from http://www. bbc. co. uk/history/british/normans/1066_01. shtml. n. a. (n. d). Bayeux Tapestry. Middle-ages. org. Retrieved May 24, 2012 from http://www. middle-ages. org. uk/bayeux-tapestry. htm Sayre, H. (2011). The Humanities: Culture, Continuity and Change . Upper Saddle River, NJ.