21 Facts about the Battle of Hastings
- The location of King Harold’s body remains unknown to this day. There is an alleged grave site at Waltham Abbey, but the precise whereabouts of his body is still disputed today.
2. In order to reach Hastings, the Normans sailed about 700 ships across the English Channel.
3. After King Harold was defeated, William of Normandy was crowned the King of England on Christmas Day, 1066.
4. William promised that if he won the battle, he would build an Abbey. He remained true to his word and placed the high altar at the same spot where King Harold was killed.
5. The bodies from the side of the Norman bodies were buried in a large common grave, which location remains unknown.
6. Although William spoke French and grew up in France, he was a descendent of Viking origins.
7. William invaded England two weeks before the Battle of Hastings to claim his right to the English throne.
8. While most of the English army was on foot, around 1/4th of the Norman army was on horses which gave them a huge advantage.
9. After William won the battle, there was a language barrier between him and his English subjects. William only spoke French, while the court only spoke English.
10. William changed the language of the court to French, and because of this, brought many French words into English. This evolved into modern English that we use today.
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11. After the battle, a tapestry was made to commemorate William’s victory. It is called “The Bayeux Tapestry” and depicts many details about the battle. Although it is called a tapestry it is actually embroidered cloth. Tapestries are woven not embroidered.
12. The tapestry is 20 inches wide, and is the length of about 3 swimming pools which makes it the longest piece of embroidery in the world!
13. Even after the Battle of Hastings, the surviving English leaders resisted for a few months, which was why William wasn’t crowned king sooner.
14. To this day, there are yearly reenactments held of the Battle of Hastings, on or near the site of the battle. It draws in thousands of spectators from around the world.
15. The reenactment is the largest gunpowder reenactment in the world. Previously, it was done by amateur groups of reenactors but has recently included more professionals.
16. The Battle of Hastings didn’t actually take place in Hastings. It took place seven miles from Hastings on a field. That field is now a village and its name is Battle.
17. The battle took only one day. It was a Saturday and the battle started around 9 am and ended when the sun came down around 5 pm.
18. The Normans used an ancient technique called “feigned flight” to win the battle. This technique involved them pretending to run away. When the English thought the French were retreating they broke formation and this allowed the French to attack.
19. During the battle both sides took a break for lunch.
20. The first recorded death in the battle was of Taillefer, Williams’ jester.
21. Some genealogists believe that as much as 25% of the English population is descended from William the Conqueror.
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