|Florence of Worcester's text for the Battle of Hastings 1066
which was completed around 1131AD
for the full text
Florence of Worcester (died 1118), known in Latin as Florentius, was a monk of
Worcester, who played some part in the production of the Chronicon ex chronicis, a Latin world chronicle which
begins with the creation and ends in 1140. The nature and extent of his contributions remain unclear.
The usual starting point for an examination of his career is the notice of his death in the final entry for the
year 1118 in the Chronicon: On 7 July, the Worcester monk Florence died. His meticulous learning and scholarly
labours have made this chronicle of chronicles outstanding among all others.
Earlier generations of scholars took this to mean that Florence was the principal author of the chronicle
for the entries before 1118, an assumption which led to its being commonly referred to as the
'Chronicle of Florence (of Worcester)'. However, it is now recognised that the work as it survives today
was authored by John, a fellow monk at Worcester, whose signature is found in two later entries (1128 and 1138).
He was found working on it at the behest of Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester (d. 1095), when the Anglo-Norman
chronicler Orderic Vitalis visited Worcester sometime in the early 12th century. (see
While these events were passing, and when the king might have supposed that all his enemies were quelled, he received
intelligence of the arrival of William, earl of Normandy, with an innumerable host of horsemen, slingers, archers, and
foot soldiers, having taken into his pay auxiliary forces of great bravery from all parts of France ; and that he had
moored his fleet at a place called Pevensey.
After these transactions, Harold Harfaager, king of Norway, brother of St. Olave the king, suddenly arrived at the
mouth of the river Tyne, with a powerful fleet of more than five hundred great ships. Earl Tosti joined him with his
fleet, as they had before agreed, and they made all sail into the Humbor ; and then ascending the river Tyne against the
current, landed their troops at a place called Eichale. As soon as king Harold received this news, he marched with all
expedition towards Northumbria ; but, before the king's arrival, the two brothers, earls Edwin and Morcar, at the
head of a large army, fought a battle with the Norwegians on the northern bank of the river Ouse, near York, on the
eve of the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle [20th September], being Wednesday ; and their first onset was so furious that
numbers of the enemy fell before it. But, after a long struggle, the English, unable to withstand the attack of the
Norwegians, fled with great loss, and many more of them were drowned in the river than slain in the fight. The Norwegians
remained in possession of the field of death ; and, having taken one hundred and fifty hostages from York, and
leaving there one hundred and fifty hostages of their own, returned to their ships. However, on the fifth day afterwards,
viz. on Monday, the seventh of the calends of October [25th September], Harold, king of England, having reached York,
with many thousand well-armed troops, encountered the Norwegians at a place called Stanford Bridge,
and put to the sword king Harold and earl Tosti, with the greatest part of their army ; and, although the battle was
severely contested, gained a complete victory. Notwithstanding, he allowed Harold's son Olaf, and Paul, earl of
Orkney, who had been left with part of the army to guard the ships, to return to their own country, with twenty ships
and the relics of the [defeated] army ; having first received from them hostages and their oaths.
Harold Marches South
Thereupon the king led his army towards London by forced marches ; and, although he was very sensible that some of the
bravest men in England had fallen in the two [recent] battles, and that one half of his troops was not yet assembled,
he did not hesitate to meet the enemy in Sussex, without loss of time ; and on Saturday, the eleventh of the calends
of November [22nd October], before a third of his army was in fighting order, he gave them battle at a place nine miles
from Hastings, where they had built a fort.
The English being crowded in a confined position, many of them left their ranks, and few stood by him with resolute hearts ;
nevertheless he made a stout resistance from the third hour of the day until nightfall, and defended himself with such courage
and obstinacy, that the enemy almost despaired of taking his life.
Harold is Killed
When, however, numbers had fallen on both sides, he, alas ! fell at twilight. There fell, also, his brothers, the earls
Gurth and Leofric, and almost all the English nobles.
Earl William led his army back to Hastings.
Harold reigned nine months and as many days. The earls Edwin and Morcar, who had withdrawn with their troops
from the battle on hearing that he was dead, went to London, and sent off their sister, queen Elgitha, to Chester ; but
Aldred, archbishop of York, and the earls just mentioned, with the citizens of London and the seamen, were desirous to
proclaim Edgar the etheling king, he being nephew of king Edmund Ironside ; and promised that they would renew the
war under his banner. But while many were preparing to go forth to battle, the earls withdrew their support, and returned
home with their army.
Meanwhile, earl William was laying waste Sussex, Kent. Hampshire, Surrey, Middlesex, and Herefordshire, and ceased
not from burning vills and slaughtering the inhabitants, until he came to a vill called Beorcham [Berkhampstead],
where Aldred, the archbishop, Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester, Walter. bishop of Hereford, Edgar the etheling, the
earls Edwin and Morcar, and some Londoners of the better sort, with many others, met him, and, giving hostages,
made their submission, and swore fealty to him ; but, although he concluded a treaty with them, he still allowed
his troops to burn and pillage the vills.
The feast of our Lord's Nativity approaching, he marched the whole army to London that he might be proclaimed king there ;
and as Stigand, the primate of all England, lay under the censure of the apostolical pope for not having obtained the pall
canonically, he was anointed by Aldred, archbishop of York, with great ceremony, at Westminster, on Christmas day, which
that year fell on a Monday ; having first, as the archbishop required, sworn before the altar of St. Peter the apostle,
in the presence of the clergy and people, to protect the holy churches of God and their governors, and to rule the whole
nation subject to him with justice and kingly providence, to make and maintain just laws, and straitly to forbid every sort
of rapine and all unrighteous judgments.