Crossing The Channel
Anglo Saxon Chronicles text for the Battle of Hastings 1066
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The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling
the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the
9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great (r. 871–899). Multiple copies
were made of that one original and then distributed to monasteries across England, where they were
independently updated. In one case, the Chronicle was still being actively updated in 1154.(for further details see Wikipedia)
Fairly limited details regarding the Battle can be found
Meantime Earl William came up from Normandy into Pevensey on the eve of St. Michael's mass; and soon
after his landing was effected, they constructed a castle at the port of Hastings.
AD1066. This year came King Harold from York to Westminster, on the Easter succeeding the midwinter when the king (Edward)
died. Easter was then on the sixteenth day before the calends of May. Then was over all England such a token seen as no man ever
saw before. Some men said that it was the comet-star, which others denominate the long-hair'd star. It appeared first on the
eve called 'Litania major', that is, on the eighth before the calends off May; and so shone all the week.
Soon after this came in Earl Tosty from beyond sea into the Isle of Wight, with as large a fleet as he could get; and he was there
supplied with money and provisions. Thence he proceeded, and committed outrages everywhere by the sea-coast where he could
land, until he came to Sandwich. When it was told King Harold, who was in London, that his brother Tosty was come to Sandwich, he
gathered so large a force, naval and military, as no king before collected in this land; for it was credibly reported that
Earl William from Normandy, King Edward's cousin, would come hither and gain this land; just as it afterwards happened.
There met him Harold, King of Norway, with three hundred ships. And Tosty submitted to him, and became his man. Then came
King Harold to Sandwich, where he awaited his fleet; for it was long ere it could be collected: but when it was assembled,
he went into the Isle of Wight, and there lay all the summer and the autumn. There was also a land-force every where by
the sea, though it availed nought in the end. It was now the nativity of St. Mary, when the provisioning of the men
began; and no man could keep them there any longer. They therefore had leave to go home: and the king rode up, and the
ships were driven to London; but many perished ere they came thither.
When the ships were come home, then came Harald, King of Norway, north into the Tine, unawares, with a very great
sea-force no small one; that might be, with three hundred ships or more; and Earl Tosty came to him with all those that
he had got; just as they had before said: and they both then went up with all the fleet along the Ouse toward York.
When it was told King Harold in the south, after he had come from the ships, that Harald, King of Norway, and Earl
Tosty were come up near York, then went he northward by day and night, as soon as he could collect his army. But,
ere King Harold could come thither, the Earls Edwin and Morkar had gathered from their earldoms as great a force as
they could get, and fought with the enemy. They made a great slaughter too; but there was a good number of the English
people slain, and drowned, and put to flight: and the Northmen had possession of the field of battle.
It was then told Harold, king of the English, that this had thus happened. And this fight was on the eve of St. Matthew
the apostle, which was Wednesday. Then after the fight went Harold, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty into York
with as many followers as they thought fit; and having procured hostages and provisions from the city, they proceeded
to their ships, and proclaimed full friendship, on condition that all would go southward with them, and gain this land.
Warning to Harold
This was then told to King Harold; and he gathered a
large force, and came to meet him at the estuary of Hoar Appuldran.
In the midst of this came Harold, king of the English, with all his army, on the Sunday, to Tadcaster; where he collected
his fleet. Thence he proceeded on Monday throughout York. But Harald, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty, with their forces,
were gone from their ships beyond York to Stanfordbridge; for that it was given them to understand, that hostages would be
brought to them there from all the shire.
Thither came Harold, king of the English, unawares against them beyond the bridge; and they closed together
there, and continued long in the day fighting very severely. There was slain Harald the Fair-hair'd, King of Norway,
and Earl Tosty, and a multitude of people with them, both of Normans and English; and the Normans that were left fled
from the English, who slew them hotly behind; until some came to their ships, some were drowned, some burned to death,
and thus variously destroyed; so that there was little left: and the English gained possession of the field. But there
was one of the Norwegians who withstood the English folk, so that they could not pass over the bridge, nor complete the
victory. An Englishman aimed at him with a javelin, but it availed nothing. Then came another under the bridge, who
pierced him terribly inwards under the coat of mail. And Harold, king of the English, then came over the bridge,
followed by his army; and there they made a great slaughter, both of the Norwegians and of the Flemings. But Harold let
the king's son, Edmund, go home to Norway with all the ships. He also gave quarter to Olave, the Norwegian king's son,
and to their bishop, and to the earl of the Orkneys, and to all those that were left in the ships; who then went up to
our king, and took oaths that they would ever maintain faith and friendship unto this land. Whereupon the King let them
go home with twenty-four ships. These two general battles were fought within five nights.
William, however, came against him unawares, ere his army was collected; but the king, nevertheless,
very hardly encountered him with the men that would support him: and there was a great slaughter made on either side.
Harold is Killed
There was slain King Harold, and
Leofwin his brother, and Earl Girth his brother, with many good men: and the Frenchmen gained the field of battle, as God granted
them for the sins of the nation.
Archbishop Aldred and the corporation of London were then desirous of having child Edgar to
king, as he was quite natural to them; and Edwin and Morkar promised them that they would fight with them. But the more
prompt the business should ever be, so was it from day to day the later and worse; as in the end it all fared.
This battle was fought on the day of Pope Calixtus: and Earl William returned to Hastings, and waited there to know whether
the people would submit to him. But when he found that they would not come to him, he went up with all his force that was
left and that came since to him from over sea, and ravaged all the country that he overran, until he came to Berkhampstead;
where Archbishop Aldred came to meet him, with child Edgar, and Earls Edwin and Morkar, and all the best men from London;
who submitted then for need, when the most harm was done.
It was very ill-advised that they did not so before, seeing that God would not better things for
our sins. And they gave him hostages and took oaths: and he promised them that he would be a faithful lord to them; though in
the midst of this they plundered wherever they went. Then on midwinter's day Archbishop Aldred hallowed him to king at
Westminster, and gave him possession with the books of Christ, and also swore him, ere that he would set the crown on his head,
that he would so well govern this nation as any before him best did, if they would be faithful to him. Nevertheless he laid very
heavy tribute on men, and in Lent went over sea to Normandy, taking with him Archbishop Stigand, and Abbot Aylnoth of
Glastonbury, and the child Edgar, and the Earls Edwin, Morkar, and Waltheof, and many other good men of England. Bishop Odo and
Earl William lived here afterwards, and wrought castles widely through this country, and harassed the miserable people; and ever
since has evil increased very much.