Battle of Hastings - Reference - Carmen de Triumpho Normannico

Anglo Saxon History

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Map Position

This map shows the position of locations containing '1066, anderida' centered on Westfield in Sussex.

Map Logic

This map shows the area around Battle and Hastings in 1066.

Roman roads are shown as black lines, red lines show old Roman Ridge trackways and purple lines show theoretical Roman roads implied by village and road names.

The thickness of the road implies the width of the Roman metalled surface.

The sea level is shown raised by 5 metres to accomodate the high tide level changes since 1066, if you zoom into the map over Battle then you will see that the only routes out of the Hastings Peninsular are through Battle and Netherfield.


 
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Carmen de Triumpho Normannico (Song of the Triumphant Normans) is a 20th century name for the Carmen Widonis, the earliest history of the Norman invasion of England from September to December 1066, in Latin. It is attributed to Bishop Guy of Amiens, a noble of Ponthieu and monastically-trained bishop and administrator close to the French court, who eventually served as a chaplain for Matilda of Flanders, William the Conqueror's queen. Guy was an uncle to Count Guy of Ponthieu, who figures rather prominently in the Bayeux Tapestry as the vassal of Duke William of Normandy who captured Harold Godwinson in 1064. (for further details see Wikipedia)

This page contains limited extracts from the Translation by Kathleen Tyson
who has published it as ISBN 978149204751.
Click HERE for the full text.


The Beginning in Normandy

But for a long time your leading fleet across the Channel is barred by storms and constant rain
From antiquity the port of Vimeu has been renown
Above is the fortress of St Valery
For fifteen days you occupied these regions
It remains wet
And the sky is covered with cloud and rain
And the sun shone forth brighter than usual
When Michaelmas was celebrated around the world
While sailors take up their oars and knights their arms
Surely ten times ten times ten and 5 thousand more men

Crossing The Channel

Hitherto confined, the ships spread along the coast evenly
And form themselves into a tidy fleet
The day is already short the setting sun now inclines
When your flagship sets the course
When the dark night’s gloomy shadows overspread the sky

On the open sea you moor offshore
You caution to take in the sails awaiting the morning to come

Landing

Nor fear the Northern gale, but to a charming landing place
Nor the rocky coast looming perilous

The third hour of the day overspread the earth
Since leaving the sea behind when you seize a sheltered strand

The land belonging to you had been stripped of tenants
I rejoice as you and yours seize a peaceful arc of strand

You secure the bridgehead fearing to neglect the ships
And raise palisades, that you may site the camp within
You restore the forts that were long since destroyed
You station garrisons that they may be defended
Not much space has been occupied by your men in peace

Raiding Pevensey and Hastings

They invade the countryside, they lay waste and put to the torch
One Englishman kept hidden under the sea cliffs
He sees the countless ranks stream forth
Blazing flames devour homes
And all the children shed tears at the slaughter of their parents

Warning to Harold

He swiftly mounted a horse
He hastened to tell the king
The king returned from war laden with rich spoils
The messenger, coming up with him, spread this before the ranks
The Duke of Normandy with Gauls and Bretons
He is laying waste and putting to the torch

Exchanging Messages

A sage monk of eloquent speech was chosen
Who could be trusted to cautiously scout the camp of the duke
He sped on his way on a swift horse
Whatever the vain monk brought him, the duke held immaterial
Insofar as he urges retreat, it is raving madness entirely
Indeed the season forbids it, and the way is not easy
The monk hastened back

France who begets illustrious nobility
And people of Brittany, for whom there is honour in arms
Illustrious forces of Maine, whose glory
Apulia, Calabria, Sicily! Whose flying darts swarm!
Esteemed Normans, ever ready for action!
Wherefore we charge you to guard the camp
To return an envoy prepared word for word
The monk was summoned. He took to the road without delay

Because the Duke had directed his envoy to proceed ever vigilant
The envoy detouring through the countryside
Approached unseen where the King was preparing the ambush
Neck twisting, face distorted, Harold
Said to the envoy ‘Go back Dullard’
The envoy retraced his path by the shortcut back
Imperial in splendour, the duke, peace and glory of the realm
Advanced before the ranks of his army
The ruddy hued face of the envoy
The Duke asked ‘where is the king’
Without warning he hopes he may ambush you
It is said he has sent five hundred ships to sea
Where he advances there he lays planks of wood
And by this means makes dry crossings of rivers

Saxons Reconnoitre

Meanwhile as the encampment darkened, the heir of fraud
Under cover of night came coursing like a thief
The king ordered his men to arms, still in concealment from the Duke
He ordered the columns attack if they would prevail

Before the Battle

The duke was silent a wile and composed himself
He sent archers before the infantry to start the battle
And placed the crossbowmen in the centre
He intended to station his lancers behind the infantry
But encountering battle, he was not allowed
For he saw the approach of enemy columns not far off
And the woods full of gleaming weapons
Suddenly a company of English emerged from the forest
And the column rushed from wooded cover
Nearby was a wooded hill, neighbouring the valley
Its terrain was rugged and uncultivated
The English as is their custom advancing crowded together
The king ascended the summit that he might wage war in the midst of his army
And the noblemen flanked him either side
At the summit of the hill a streaming banner was planted
All dismounted and the horses are taken behind the rear

The Battle

The Duke below fearing mastery from the height checks the advancing column
And boldly approaches the steep slope
He commences battle with arrows to confound the English infantry
The first of the infantry attack the opposing archers
At a spears throw away and pierce the bodies with javelins
And crossbow bolts like a hailstorm dissolve shields
But also the Gaul cavalry attacked to the left, the Bretons to the right
The Duke with the Norman cavalry fights in the middle
The thick mob of the english stand fixed to the ground
The Franks expert in war prepare a feint
They falsely act as if decisively defeated, fleeing
The English peasants rejoice and believe themselves triumphant
The once dense wood is made sparse
Seeing the left battle line thinned, a Norman wedge
Penetrates as far as the opportune breach stands
Meanwhile those Franks who feigned sudden flight suddenly about face
They gather in tight formation to charge the slope for slaughter
A large part of the English mob perish there, while the denser mob stands its ground
Truly ten thousand have suffered slaughter there
Wiser in war the greater part who remained above press ahead
The English mob push back, overcoming their enemy by greater numbers
By force they compel the Normans to cede an about face
The Normans flee, shields covering their backs
Enraged he bares his head of its helmet
He said ‘who are you fleeing’
You who have been victorious, allow yourselves to be seen vanquished
The sea is behind back by sea is the way to return
Through heavy seas, wind and weather opposing you
And remaining here you have no way of escape
They formed up behind, facing back towards the enemy
Following him the rest of those returning took heart
So the English mob fell to the Frankish force
The column gave way in terror before the face of the duke
Harold’s brother is unafraid in the face of the lion
Named Gyrth he was born to the line of the king
A javelin launches swiftly from his strong shoulder
The blade of the missile pierces the body of the horse
It is wounded so the Duke is forced to fight on foot
For he follows the swift youth as a ravening lion
Hacking limb from limb
The duke recalling himself as a knight turns swiftly towards that one
And swiftly mounts the horse thus offered to him
A Trojan a man quick and ready
Lies in ambush that he might draw an end to the duke’s harrying
But the hurled javelin delivers its blow to the horse


Meanwhile Count Eustace of noble family born
Surrounded by a mixed wedge of warriors
He makes himself a foot soldier so that the duke might go forth mounted
They return at once to the battle where the weapons glitter thickest
So a forest of Englishmen were brought to destruction
Now the field is ruled and victory nearly complete

Harold is Killed

When the duke spies the king above on the steep hill
His hard pressed men are being torn to pieces
The duke summons Eustace from the Franks then clearing the battlefield
Like a second Hector, the noble heir of Ponthieu
Hugh accompanies these ever ready for duty
Fourth is Gilfard, called by his father’s surname
Although many others join, these are the best of them
Harold is forced to go the way of all flesh
The first shatters his breast through the shield by a lance
The second by sword severs the head below the helmet
The third by spears pours out the belly’s entrails
The fourth cuts off the leg at the hip
The flying rumour ‘Harold is dead’ spreads through the battlefield
The defeated English refuse battle they demand pardon

English are Routed

The defeated English refuse battle they demand pardon
Distrusted to live they yield their backs to death
By tally the duke sends two thousand to the Lower World there
Beside the other countless thousands
It was evening already the axis turned day to shadows
Only night and flight avail the defeated English
Through cover and hiding places in the dense forest
Ever vigilant Hector followed the fleeing fugitives
He led the various skirmishes through the night until daylight

Epilogue

The duke gathered the torn remnants of Harold’s body
And so carried with him, returned to his seaside camp
Swearing it better Harold was buried promptly on the coast of the port under a heap of stones

Therefore just as he had vowed high on a cliff
He ordered the body entombed on the ground at the summit.
That he may remain sentry over sea and strand

He remained at the camp at the port of Hastings five days
And turned from there to the Dover road
He had not finished half the journey when, fearing him
And bestowed the keys of the castle and open gates
In that place is a high rock, a narrow sea, a shaded shore
But Dover castle hangs on the heights of the cliffs



External References in no particular order :-
Original Manuscripts of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Online Anglo Saxon dictionary
Online Etymology dictionary
Open Domesday Book - The first free online copy of the Domesday Book
The Ermine Street Guard Roman re-enactment and research Society
The "Kent A" cadastre - page 5 - Peterson 2002
Archaeologia Cantiana Online
Romney Marsh Research Trust
Romney Marsh the Fifth Continent
VillageNet the reference guide to villages in Kent & Sussex
Global warming Flood Maps
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Google Maps - the core of the system
GeoPlaner - Useful site for plotting map data
Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars 55BC(Books 4 & 5)
Wikipedia - Caesar's invasions of Britain
Wikipedia - Portus Istus
The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy (Bill Thayers)
Roman Britain.org
Runetree Beowulf
Bayeux Tapestry Online
The Secrets of the Norman Invasion
Chronicles of John of Worcester
Battle Historic Society
Binsted village website(Mearcredesburnan Steðe)

 

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Author: Simon M       Document Created: 2018-06-21
Data is derived from a number or sources including the Ordnance Survey Gazetter data overlayed onto Google Maps