|Phase 17 - The Battle of Hastings|
The Battle details which are the majority of the available documentation.
|This page shows the documentary evidence from translated original documents|
Anglo Saxon Chronicles
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.
Battle Abbey Chronicles
Upon the hill where the Abbey now stands, the English supported their king in a compact body But at
length, by a preconcerted
scheme, the duke feigned a retreat with his army, and Eustace, the valiant count of Boulogne, nimbly
following the rear of the
English, who were scattered in the pursuit, rushed upon them with his powerful troops ; meanwhile the
duke returned upon them,
and they, being thus hemmed in on both sides, numbers were stricken down.
Continued from previous.
Leofwine and Gyrth are killed.
hic ceciderunt lewine et gyrd fratres haroldi regis
(Here fell Leofwine and Gyrth, brothers of King Harold)
The Battle rages.
hic ceciderunt simul angli et franci in prelio
(Here English and French fell at the same time in battle)
hic odo eps baculu tenens confortat pueros
(Here Bishop Odo, holding a club, gives strength to the men)
William is alive and rallies his troops.
hic est willel dux
(here is Duke William)
Carmen de Triumpho Normannico
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
Florence of Worcester
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.
Henry of Huntingdon
Duke William commenced the attack with five squadrons of his splendid cavalry, a terrible onset;
but first he addressed them to this effect : 'What I have to say to you, ye Normans, the bravest of nations, does
not spring from any doubt of your valour or uncertanty of victory, which never by any chance or obstacle escaped
your efforts. If, indeed, once only you had failed of conquering, it might be necessary to inflame your courage by
But how little does the inherent spirit of your race require to be roused! Most valiant of men,
what availed the power of the Frank king, with all his people, from Lorraine to Spain, against Hastings, my
predecessor ? What he wanted of the territory of France he appropriated to himself; what he chose, only, was left
to the king; what he had, he held during his pleasure; when he was satisfied, he relinquished it, and looked for
something better. Did not Rollo, my ancestor, the founder of our nation, with your progenitors, conquer at Paris the
king of the Franks in the heart of his dominions ; nor could he obtain any respite until he humbly offered possession
of the country which from you is called Normandy, with the hand of his daughter ?
Did not your fathers take prisoner the king of the French, and detain him at Rouen till he restored Normandy to your Duke
Richard, then a boy ; with this stipulation, that in every conference between the King of France and the Duke of Normandy,
the duke should have his sword by his side, while the king should not be allowed so much as a dagger ? This concession your
fathers compelled the great king to submit to, as binding for ever. Did not the same duke lead your fathers to Mirmande,
at the foot of the Alps, and enforce submission from the lord of the town, his son-in-law, to his own wife, the duke's
daughter ? Nor Was it enough to conquer mortals; for he overcame the devil himself, with whom he wrestled, and cast down
and bound him, leaving him a shameful spectacle to angels. But why do I go back to former times ? When you, in our own time,
engaged the French at Mortemer, did not the French prefer flight to battle, and use their spurs instead of their swords ;
while — Ralph, the French commander, being slain — you reaped the fruits of victory, the honour and the spoil, as natural
results of your wonted success ? Ah ! let any one of the English whom our predecessors, both Danes and Norwegians, have
defeated in a hundred battles, come forth and show that the race of Rollo ever suffered a defeat from his time until now,
and I will submit and retreat.
Is it not shameful, then, that a people accustomed to be conquered, a people ignorant of the art of war, a people
not even in possession of arrows, should moke a show of being arrayed in order of battle against you, most valiant ?
Is it not a shame that this King Harold, perjured as he was in your presence, should dare to show his face to you?
It is a wonder to me that you have been allowed to see those who by a horrible crime beheaded your relations and
Alfred my kinsman, and that their own accursed heads are still on their shoulders. Raise, then, your standards,
my brave men, and set no bounds to your merited rage. Let the lightning of your glory flash, and the thunders of
your onset be heard from east to west, and be the avengers of the noble blood which has been spilled.
Duke William had not concluded his harangue, when all the squadrons, inflamed with rage, rushed on the enemy
with indescribable impetuosity, and left the duke speaking to himself! Before the armies closed for the fight, one
Taillefer, sportively brandishing swords before the English troops, while they were lost in amazement at his gambols,
slew one of their standard-bearers. A second time one of the enemy fell. The third time he was slain himself.
Then the ranks met; a cloud of arrows carried death among them; the clang of sword-strokes followed; helmets gleamed,
and weapons clashed. But Harold had formed his whole army in close column, making a rampart which the Normans could
Duke William, therefore, commanded his troops to make a feigned retreat. In their flight they happened unawares on a
deep trench, which was treacherously covered, into which numbers fell and perished.
While the English were engaged in pursuit the main body of the Normans broke the centre of the
enemy's line, which being perceived by those in pursuit over the concealed trench, when they were consequently
recalled most of them fell there.
Duke William also commanded his bowmen not to aim their arrows directly at the enemy, but to shoot them in the air,
that their cloud might spread darkness over the enemy's ranks; this occasioned great loss to the English.
Twenty of the bravest knights also pledged their troth to each other that they would cut through the English troops,
and capture the royal ensign called The Standard. In this attack the greater part were slain ; but the remainder,
hewing a way with their swords, captured the standard.
On the fourteenth day of October was fought the battle whereof I am about to tell you.
The priests had watched all night, and besought and called on God, and prayed to him in their cha
pels which were fitted up throughout the host. They offered and vowed fasts, penances, and orisons; they
said psalms and misereres, litanies andkyriels ; they cried on God, and for his mercy, and said pater
nosters and masses; some the SPIRITUS DOMINI, others SALUS POPULI, and many SALVE SANCTE
PARENS, being suited to the season, as belonging to that day, which was Saturday. And when the
masses were sung, which were finished betimes in the morning, all the barons assembled and came to
the duke, and it was arranged they should form three divisions, so as to make the attack in three places.
The duke stood on a hill, where he could best see his men ; the barons surrounded him, and he
spoke to them proudly :' Much ought I,' said he, ' to love you all, and much should I confide in you;
I thank you who have crossed the sea for me, and have come with me into this land. It grieves me
that I cannot now render such thanks as are due to you, but when I can I will, and what I have shall
be yours. If I conquer, you will conquer. If I win lands, you shall have lands ; for I say most truly
that I am not come merely to take for myself what I claim, but to punish the felonies, treasons, and
falsehoods which the men of this country have always done and said to our people. They have done much
ill to our kindred, as well as to other people, for they do all the treason and mischief they can. On
the night of the feast of St. Brigun, they committed horrible treachery ; they slew all the Danes in one
day ; they had eaten with them, and then slew them in their sleep ; no fouler crime was ever heard
of than in this manner to kill the people who trusted in them.
' You have all heard of Alfred, and how Godwin betrayed him ; he saluted and kissed him, ate
and drank with him; then betrayed, seized and bound him, and delivered him to the felon king, who
confined him in the Isle of Eli, tore out his eyes, and afterwards killed him. He had the men of Normandy
also brought to Gedefort, and decimated them ; and when the tenth was set apart, hear what
felony they committed! they decimated that tenth once more, because it appeared too many to save.
These felonies, and many other which they have done to our ancestors, and to our friends who demeaned
themselves honourably, we will revenge on them, if God so please. When we have conquered
them, we will take their gold and silver, and the wealth of which they have plenty, and their manors,
which are rich. We shall certainly easily conquer them, for in all the world there is not so brave an
army, neither such proved men and vassals, as are here assembled.'
Then they began to cry out, ' You will not see one coward ; none here will fear to die for love of
you, if need be.'
And he answered them, ' I thank you well. For God's sake spare not; strike hard at the beginning;
stay not to take spoil; all the booty shall be in common, and there will be plenty for every one. There
will be no safety in peace or flight ; the English will never love or spare Normans. Felons they were and
are ; false they were and false they will be. Shew no weakness towards them, for they will have no
pity on you ; neither the coward for his flight, nor the bold man for his strokes, will be the better liked
by the English, nor will any be the more spared on that account. You may fly to the sea, but you can
fly no further ; you will find neither ship nor bridge there ; there will be no sailors to receive you ; and
the English will overtake you and kill you in your shame. More of you will die in flight than in battle;
flight, therefore, will not secure you; but fight, and you will conquer. I have no doubt of the victory ;
we are come for glory, the victory is in our hands, and we may make sure of obtaining it if we
As the duke said this, and would have said yet more, William Fitz Osber rode up, his horse being
all coated with iron; ' Sire/' said he to his lord, ' we tarry here too long, let us all arm ourselves.
Then all went to their tents and armed themselves as they best might ; and the duke was very busy,
giving every one his orders ; and he was courteous to all the vassals, giving away many arms and horses
When he prepared to arm himself, he called first for his good hauberk, and a man brought it on his
arm, and placed before him; but in putting his head in, to get it on, he inadvertently turned it the wrong
way, with the back part in front. He quickly changed it, but, when he saw that those who stood by
were sorely alarmed, he said, ' I have seen many a man who, if such a thing had happened to him,
would not have borne arms, or entered the field the same day ; but I never believed in omens, and I
never will. I trust in God ; for he does in all things his pleasure, and ordains what is to come to pass,
according to his will. I have never liked fortune tellers, nor believed in diviners; but I commend my
self to our Lady. Let not this mischance give you trouble. The hauberk which was turned wrong, and
then set right by me, signifies that a change will arise out of the matter we are now moving. You
shall see the name of duke changed into king. Yea, a king shall I be, who hitherto have been but duke.'
Then he crossed himself, and straightway took his hauberk, stooped his head, and put it on aright;
and laced his helmet and girt his sword, which a varlet brought him.
THEN the duke called for his good horse; a better could not be found. It had been sent him by a king
of Spain as a token of friendship l . Neither arms nor throng did it fear, when its lord spurred on.
Galtier Giffart, who had been to St. Jago, brought it. The duke stretched out his hand, took the reins,
put foot in stirrup and mounted; and the good horse pawed, pranced, reared himself up, and curvetted.
The viscount of Toarz saw how the duke bore himself in arms, and said to his people that were around
him, ' Never have I seen a man so fairly armed, nor one who rode so gallantly, or bore his arms, or
became his hauberk so well ; neither any one who bore his lance so gracefully, or sat his horse and
manoeuvred him so nobly. There is no other such knight under heaven ! a fair count he is, and fair king
he will be. Let him fight and he shall overcome ; shame be to him who shall fail him '
The duke called for horses, and had several led out to him; each had a good sword hanging at the
saddlebow, and those who led the horses bore lances. Then the barons armed themselves, the knights and
the lancemen; and the whole were divided into three companies ; each company having many lords
and captains appointed to them, that there might be no cowardice, or fear of loss of member or life.
The duke called a serving man, and ordered him to bring forth the gonfanon which the pope had sent
him ; and he who bore it having unfolded it, the duke took it, reared it, and called to Raol de Conches;
' Bear my gonfanon,' said he, ' for I would not but do you right ; by right and by ancestry your line
are standard bearers of Normandy, and very good knights have they all been.' 'Many thanks to
you,' said Raol, 'for acknowledging our right; but by my faith, the gonfanon shall not this day be borne
by me. To-day I claim quittance of the service, for I would serve you in other guise. I will go with
you into the battle, and will fight the English as long as life shall last, and know that my hand will
be worth any twenty of such men.'
Then the duke turned another way, and called to him Galtier Giffart. ' Do thou take this gonfa
non,' said he, 'and bear it in the battle.' But Galtier Giffart answered, ' Sire, for God's mercy look
at my white and bald head ; my strength has fallen away, and my breath become shorter. The standard
should be borne by one who can endure long labour ; I shall be in the battle, and you have not
any man who will serve you more truly ; I will strike with my sword till it shall be died in your enemies
Then the duke said fiercely, ' By the splendour of God, my lords, I think you mean to betray and
fail me in this great need.' ' Sire,' said Giffart, ' not so ! we have done no treason, nor do I refuse
from any felony towards you ; but I have to lead a great chivalry, both soldiers and the men of my fief.
Never had I such good means of serving you as I now have ; and if God please, I will serve you : if
need be, I will die for you, and will give my own heart for yours.'
'By my faith,' quoth the duke, 'I always loved thee, and now I love thee more ; if I survive this
day, thou shalt be the better for it all thy days.' Then he called out a knight, whom he had heard
much praised, Tosteins Fitz Rou le blanc, by name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux T . To him
he delivered the gonfanon; and Tosteins took it right cheerfully, and bowed low to him in thanks, and
bore it gallantly, and with good heart. His kindred still have quittance of all service for their inheritance
on that account, and their heirs are entitled so to hold their inheritance for ever.
William sat on his warhorse, and called out Rogier, whom they call de Montgomeri. ' I rely
much on you,' said he ; 'lead your men thitherward, and attack them from that side. William, the son
of Osber, the seneschal, a right good vassal, shall go with you and help in the attack, and you shall
have the men of Boilogne and Poix, and all my soldiers. Alain Fergant and Aimeri shall attack
on the other side; they shall lead the Poitevins and the Bretons, and all the barons of Maine ; and I
with my own great men, my friends and kindred, will fight in the middle throng, where the battle
shall be the hottest.'
The barons and knights and lancemen were all now armed ; the men on foot were well equipped,
each bearing bow and sword : on their heads were caps, and to their feet were bound buskins.
Some had good hides which they had bound round their bodies ; and many were clad in frocks, and
had quivers and bows hung to their girdles. The knights had hauberks and swords, boots of steel and
shining helmets ; shields at their necks, and in their hands lances. And all had their cognizances, so
that each might know his fellow, and Norman might not strike Norman, nor Frenchman kill his country
man by mistake. Those on foot led the way, with serried ranks, bearing their bows. The knights rode
next, supporting the archers from behind. Thus both horse and foot kept their course and order of
march as they began ; in close ranks at a gentle pace, that the one might not pass or separate from the
other. All went firmly and compactly, bearing themselves gallantly; and in each host stood archers
ready to exchange shots.
HAROLD had summoned his men, earls, barons, and vavassors, from the castles and the cities ; from the
ports, the villages, and boroughs. The villeins were also called together from the villages, bearing such
arms as they found ; clubs and great picks, iron forks and stakes. The English had enclosed the
field where Harold was with his friends, and the barons of the country whom he had summoned and
called together. Those of London had come at once, and those of Kent, of Herfort, and of Essesse ; those
of Suree and Sussesse, of St. Edmund and Sufoc; of Norwis and Norfoc ; of Cantorbierre and Stanfort ;
Bedefort and Hundetone *. The men of Northanton also came ; and those of Eurowic and Bokin
keham, of Bed and Notinkeham, Lindesie and Nichole. There came also from the west all who
heard the summons ; and very many were to be seen coming from Salebiere and Dorset, from Bat and
from Sumerset. Many came too from about Glocestre, and many from Wirecestre, from Wincestre,
Hontesire, and Brichesire ; and many more from other counties that we have not named, and cannot
indeed recount. All who could bear arms, and had learnt the news of the duke's arrival, came to de
fend the land. But none came from beyond Humbre, for they had other business upon their hands;
the Danes and Tosti having much damaged and weakened them.
Harold knew that the Normans would come and attack him hand to hand : so he had early enclosed
the field in which he placed his men. He made them arm early, and range themselves for the battle ; he
himself having put on arms and equipments that became such a lord. The duke, he said, ought to seek
him, as he wanted to conquer England ; and it became him to abide the attack, who had to defend
the land. He commanded his people, and counselled his barons to keep themselves all together, and
defend themselves in a body ; for if they once separated, they would with difficulty recover themselves.
'The Normans,' said he, 'are good vassals, valiant on foot and on horseback ; good knights are they on
horseback, and well used to battle ; all is lost if they once penetrate our ranks. They have brought long
lances and swords, but you have pointed lances and keen edged bills; and I do not expect that their
arms can stand against yours. Cleave whenever you can ; it will be ill done if you spare aught.'
Harold had many and brave men that came from all quarters in great numbers ; but a multitude of
men is of little worth, if the favour of Heaven is wanting. Many and many have since said, that Ha
rold had but a small force, and that he fell on that account. But many others say, and so do I, that
he and the duke had man for man. The men of the duke were not more numerous ; but he had cer
tainly more barons, and the men were better. He had plenty of good knights, and great plenty of good
The English peasants carried hatchets, and keen edged bills. They had built up a fence before
them with their shields, and with ash and other wood ; and had well joined and wattled in the whole work,
so as not to leave even a crevice; and thus they had a barricade in their front, through which any Nor
man who would attack them must first pass. Being covered in this way by their shields and barricades,
their aim was to defend themselves ; and if they had remained steady for that purpose, they would not
have been conquered that day ; for every Norman who made his way in, lost his life in dishonour,
either by hatchet or bill, by club or other weapon. They wore short and close hauberks, and helmets
that over hung their garments.
King Harold issued orders and made proclamation round, that all should be ranged with their faces
toward the enemy ; and that no one should move from where he was ; so that whoever came might
find them ready; and that whatever any one, be he Norman or other, should do, each should do his best
to defend his own place. Then he ordered the men of Kent to go where the Normans were likely to
make the attack; for they say that the men of Kent are entitled to strike first ; and that whenever the
king goes to battle, the first blow belongs to them. The right of the men of London is to guard the
king's body, to place themselves around him, and to guard his standard ; and they were accordingly
placed by the standard, to watch and defend it.
When Harold had made all ready, and given his orders, he came into the midst of the English, and
dismounted by the side of the standard. Leofwin and Gurth, his brothers, were with him ; and around him
he had barons enough, as he stood by his gonfanon, which was in truth a noble one, sparkling with gold
and precious stones. After the victory William sent it to the apostle, to prove and commemorate his great
conquest and glory. The English stood in close ranks, ready and eager for the fight; and they had
moreover made a fosse, which went across the field, guarding one side of their army.
MEANWHILE the Normans appeared, advancing over the ridge of a rising ground ; and the first di
vision of their troops moved onwards along the hill and across a valley. As they advanced king Ha
rold saw them afar off, and calling to Gurth, said, ' Brother, which way are you looking ? See you
the duke coming yonder ? Our people will have no mischief from the force I see yonder. There are not
men enough there to conquer the great force we have in this land. I have four times a hundred thousand
armed men, knights and peasants.'
'By my faith,' answered Gurth, ' you have many men ; but a great gathering of vilanaille is worth
little in battle. You have plenty of men in every day clothes, but I fear the Normans much ; for all
who have come from over sea are men to be feared. They are all well armed, and come on horseback,
and will trample our people under foot ; they have many lances and shields, hauberks and helmets ;
glaives and swords, bows and barbed arrows that are swift, and fly fleeter than the swallow.'
' Gurth,' said Harold, ' be not dismayed, God can give us sufficient aid, if he so pleases ; and there
certainly is no need to be alarmed at yonder army.'
But while they yet spoke of the Normans they were looking at, another division, still larger, came
in sight, close following upon the first; and they wheeled towards another side of the field, forming
together as the first body had done. Harold saw and examined them, and pointing them out to Gurth,
said to him, ' Gurth, our enemies grow ; knights come up thickening their ranks ; they gather toge
ther from all around ; I am dismayed, and was never before so troubled : I much fear the result of the
battle, and my heart is in great tribulation.'
' Harold,' said Gurth, ' you did ill when you fixed a day for the battle. I lament that you came,
and that you did not remain at London, or at Winchester : but it is now too late ; it must be as it is.'
' Sire brother,' replied Harold, 'bygone counsel is little worth ; let us defend ourselves as we can ;
I know no other remedy.'
' If,' said Gurth, ' you had stayed in London, you might have gone thence from town to town, and
the duke would never have followed you. He would have feared you and the English, and would have
returned or made peace ; and thus you would have saved your kingdom. You would not believe me,
nor value the advice I gave ; you fixed the day of battle, and sought it of your own free will.'
' Gurth,' said Harold, ' I did it for good ; I named Saturday because I was born on a Saturday;
and my mother used to tell me that good luck would attend me on that day.'
'He is a fool,' said Gurth, ' who believes in luck, which no brave man ought to do. No brave man
should trust to luck. Every one has his day of death ; you say you were born on a Saturday, and
on that day also you may be killed.'
Meanwhile, a fresh company came in sight, covering all the plain ; and in the midst of them was
raised the gonfanon that came from Rome. Near it was the duke, and the best men and greatest
strength of the army were there. The good knights, the good vassals and brave warriors were there ; and
there were gathered together the gentle barons, the good archers, and the lancemen, whose duty it was
to guard the duke, and range themselves around him. The youths and common herd of the camp,
whose business was not to join in the battle, but to take care of the harness and stores, moved off to
wards a rising ground. The priests and the clerks also ascended a hill, there to offer up prayers to God,
and watch the event of the battle.
Harold saw William come, and beheld the field covered with arms, and how the Normans divided
into three companies, in order to attack at three places. I know not of which he was most afraid ;
but his trouble was so great that he could scarcely say, ' We are fallen on an evil lot, and I fear much
lest we come to shame. The count of Flanders hath betrayed me : I trusted to him, and was a fool for
so doing; when he sent me word by letter, and assured me by messages that William could never col
lect so great a chivalry. On the faith of his report I delayed my preparations, and now I rue the delay.'
Then his brother Gurth drew near, and they placed themselves by the standard ; each praying
God to protect them. Around them were their kinsmen, and those barons who were their nearest
friends; and they besought all to do their best, seeing that none could now avoid the conflict. Each
man had his hauberk on, with his sword girt and his shield at his neck. Great hatchets were also
slung at their necks, with which they expected to strike heavy blows. They were on foot in close
ranks, and carried themselves right boldly ; yet if they had foretold the issue, well might they have
bewailed the evil fate cruel and hard of a truth that was approaching. OLiCRossE they often
cried, and many times repeated GoDEMiTE. ' Olicrosse* is in English what ' Sainte Croix' is in French,
and 'Godemite* the same as ' Dex tot poissant in
The Normans brought on the three divisions of their army to attack at different places. They set
out in three companies, and in three companies did they fight. The first and second had come up, and
then advanced the third, which was the greatest ; with that came the duke with his own men, and all
moved boldly forward.
As soon as the two armies were in full view of each other, great noise and tumult arose. You
might hear the sound of many trumpets, of bugles and of horns ; and then you might see men rang
ing themselves in line, lifting their shields, raising their lances, bending their bows, handling their ar
rows, ready for assault and for defence. The English stood steady to their post, the Normans still
moving on ; and when they drew near, the English were to be seen stirring to and fro ; men going and
coming; troops ranging themselves in order; some with their colour rising, others turning pale ; some
making ready their arms, others raising their shields; the brave man rousing himself to the fight, the cow
ard trembling at the approaching danger.
THEN Taillefer who sang right well, rode mounted on a swift horse before the duke, singing of Karle
maine, and of Rollant, of Oliver and the vassals who died in Renchevals. And when they drew nigh to
the English, 'A boon, sire !' cried Taillefer; ' I have long served you, and you owe me for all such
service. To-day, so please you, you shall repay it. I ask as my guerdon, and beseech you for it earnestly,
that you will allow me to strike the first blow in the battle!'
And the duke answered, ' I grant it.' Then Taillefer put his horse to a gallop, charging before
all the rest, and struck an Englishman dead, driving his lance below the breast into his body, and
stretching him upon the ground . Then he drew his sword, and struck another, crying out ' Come on !
come on! What do ye, sirs? lay on ! lay on !' At the second blow he struck, the English pushed for
ward and surrounded him . Forthwith arose the noise and cry of war, and on either side the people put
themselves in motion. The Normans moved on to the assault, and the English defended themselves
well. Some were striking, others urging onwards ; all were bold, and cast aside fear.
AND NOW, BEHOLD ! THAT BATTLE WAS GATHERED WHEREOF THE FAME IS YET MIGHTY.
Loud and far resounded the bray of the horns ; and the shocks of the lances ; the mighty strokes
of clubs, and the quick clashing of swords. One while the Englishmen rushed on, another while
they fell back ; one while the men from over sea charged onwards, and again at other times retreat
ed. The Normans shouted DEX A IE, the English people UT. Then came the cunning manoeuvres,
the rude shocks and strokes of the lance and blows of the sword, among the Serjeants and soldiers, both
English and Norman. When the English fall, the Normans shout. Each side taunts and defies the
other, yet neither knoweth what the other saith ; and the Normans say the English bark, because they
understand not their speech.
Some wax strong, others weak; the brave exult, but the cowards tremble, as men who are sore dis
mayed. The Normans press on the assault, and the English defend their post well; they pierce the hau
berks, and cleave the shields ; receive and return mighty blows. Again some press forwards ; others
yield, and thus in various ways the struggle proceeds.
In the plain was a fosse, which the Normans had now behind them, having passed it in the fight with
out regarding it. But the English charged and drove the Normans before them, till they made them fall
back upon this fosse, overthrowing into it horses and men. Many were to be seen falling therein,
rolling one over the other, with their faces to the earth, and unable to rise. Many of the English also,
whom the Normans drew down along with them, died there. At no time during the day's battle did
so many Normans die, as perished in that fosse. So those said who saw the dead.
The varlets who were set to guard the harness began to abandon it, as they saw the loss of the Frenchmen,
when thrown back upon the fosse without power to recover themselves. Being greatly alarmed at seeing the
difficulty in restoring order, they began to quit the harness, and sought around, not
knowing where to find shelter. Then Odo, the good priest, the bishop of Bayeux, galloped up, and said
to them, ' Stand fast ! stand fast ! be quiet and move not ! fear nothing, for if God please, we shall
conquer yet.' So they took courage, and rested where they were ; and Odo returned galloping back
to where the battle was most fierce, and was of great service on that day. He had put a hauberk on, over
a white aube ; wide in the body, with the sleeve tight; and sat on a white horse, so that all might
recognise him. In his hand he held a mace, and wherever he saw most need, he led up and stationed
the knights, and often urged them on to assault and strike the enemy
FROM nine o'clock in the morning, when the combat began, till three o'clock came, the battle was up
and down, this way and that, and no one knew who
would conquer and win the land. Both sides stood
so firm and fought so well, that no one could guess
which would prevail. The Norman archers with
their bows shot thickly upon the English ; but they
covered themselves with their shields, so that the
arrows could not reach their bodies, nor do any mis
chief, how true soever was their aim, or however
well they shot. Then the Normans determined to
shoot their arrows upwards into the air, so that they
might fall on their enemies' heads, and strike their
faces. The archers adopted this scheme, and shot
up into the air towards the English ; and the ar
rows in falling struck their heads and faces, and put
out the eyes of many ; and all feared to open their
eyes, or leave their faces unguarded.
The arrows now flew thicker than rain before the
wind ; fast sped the shafts that the English call
' wibetes V Then it was that an arrow, that had
been thus shot upwards, struck Harold above his
right eye, and put it out. In his agony he drew the
arrow and threw it away, breaking it with his hands :
and the pain to his head was so great, that he lean
ed upon his shield. So the English were wont to
say, and still say to the French, that the arrow was
well shot which was so sent up against their king;
and that the archer won them great glory, who thus
put out Harold's eye.
The Normans saw that the English defended
themselves well, and were so strong in their posi
tion that they could do little against them. So they
consulted together privily, and arranged to draw off,
and pretend to flee, till the English should pursue
and scatter themselves over the field ; for they saw
that if they could once get their enemies to break
their ranks, they might be attacked and discomfited
much more easily. As they had said, so they did.
The Normans by little and little fled, the English
following them. As the one fell back, the other
pressed after ; and when the Frenchmen retreated,
the English thought and cried out, that the men of
France fled, and would never return.
Thus they were deceived by the pretended flight,
and great mischief thereby befell them ; for if they
had not moved from their position, it is not likely
that they would have been conquered at all ; but
like fools they broke their lines and pursued.
The Normans were to be seen following up their
stratagem, retreating slowly so as to draw the En
glish further on. As they still flee, the English pur
sue ; they push out their lances and stretch forth
their hatchets: following the 'Normans, as they go
rejoicing in the success of their scheme, and scat
tering themselves over the plain. And the English
meantime jeered and insulted their foes with words.
' Cowards,' they cried, ' you came hither in an
evil hour, wanting our lands, and seeking to seize
our property, fools that ye were to come! Normandy
is too far off, and you will not easily reach it. It is
of little use to run back ; unless you can cross the
sea at a leap, or can drink it dry, your sons and
daughters are lost to you.'
The Normans bore it all, but in fact they knew
not what the English said ; their language seemed
like the baying of dogs, which they could not un
derstand. At length they stopped and turned round,
determined to recover their ranks ; and the barons
might be heard crying DEX AIE ! for a halt. Then
the Normans resumed their former position, turn
ing their faces towards the enemy ; and their men
were to be seen facing round and rushing onwards
to a fresh melee; the one party assaulting the other;
this man striking, another pressing onwards. One
hits, another misses; one flies, another pursues: one
is aiming a stroke, while another discharges his
blow. Norman strives with Englishman again, and
aims his blows afresh. One flies, another pursues
swiftly : the combatants are many, the plain wide,
the battle and the melee fierce. On every hand they
fight hard, the blows are heavy, and the struggle
The Normans were playing their part well, when
an English knight came rushing up, having in his
company a hundred men, furnished with various
arms. He wielded a northern hatchet, with the
blade a full foot long ; and was well armed after his
manner, being tall, bold, and of noble carriage. In
the front of the battle where the Normans thronged
most, he came bounding on swifter than the stag,
many Normans falling before him and his company.
He rushed straight upon a Norman who was armed
and riding on a warhorse, and tried with his hat
chet of steel to cleave his helmet ; but the blow mis
carried, and the sharp blade glanced down before
the saddle bow, driving through the horse's neck
down to the ground, so that both horse and master
fell together to the earth. I know not whether the
Englishman struck another blow; but the Normans
who saw the stroke were astonished, and about to
abandon the assault, when Rogier de Montgomeri
came galloping up, with his lance set, and heeding
not the long handled axe, which the Englishman
wielded aloft, struck him down, and left him stretch
ed upon the ground. Then Rogier cried out,'French
men strike ! the day is ours !' And again a fierce
melee was to be seen, with many a blow of lance and
sword; the English still defending themselves, kill
ing the horses and cleaving the shields.
There was a French soldier of noble mien, who
sat his horse gallantly. He spied two Englishmen
who were also carrying themselves boldly. They
were both men of great worth, and had become com
panions in arms and fought together, the one pro
tecting the other. They bore two long and broad
bills, and did great mischief to the Normans, kill
ing both horses and men. The French soldier look
ed at them and their bills, and was sore alarmed, for
he was afraid of losing his good horse, the best that
he had ; and would willingly have turned to some
other quarter, if it would not have looked like cow
ardice. He soon, however, recovered his courage,
and spurring his horse gave him the bridle, and gal
loped swiftly forward. Fearing the two bills, he
raised his shield by the ( enarmes/ and struck one
of the Englishmen with his lance on the breast, so
that the iron passed out at his back. At the mo
ment that he fell, the lance broke, and the French
man seized the mace that hung at his right side,
and struck the other Englishman a blow that com
pletely fractured his skull.
OLD Rogier de Belmont attacked the English in
the front rank ; and was of high service, as is plain
by the wealth his heirs enjoy : any one may know
that they had good ancestors, standing well with
their lords who gave them such honors. From this
Rogier descended the lineage of Mellant. Guillame,
whom they call Mallet, also threw himself boldly
into the fray, and with his glittering sword created
great alarm among the English. But they pierced
his shield and killed his horse under him, and he
would have been slain himself, had not the Sire de
Montfort, and Dam Williame de Vez-pont, come
up with their strong force and bravely rescued him,
though with the loss of many of their people, and
mounted him on a fresh horse.
The men of the Beessin also fought well, and
the barons of the Costentin ; and Neel de St. Sal
veor exerted himself much to earn the love and
good will of his lord, and assaulted the English with
great vigour. He overthrew many that day with the
poitrail of his horse, and came with his sword to
the rescue of many a baron. The lord of Felgieres
also won great renown, with many very brave men
that he brought with him from Brittany.
Henri the Sire de Ferrieres, and he who then
held Tillieres, both these barons brought large
companies, and charged the English together. Dead
or captive were all who did not flee before them, and
the field quaked and trembled.
On the other side was an Englishman who much
annoyed the French, continually assaulting them
with a keen edged hatchet. He had a helmet made
of wood, which he had fastened down to his coat,
and laced round his neck, so that no blows could
reach his head. The ravage he was making was
seen by a gallant Norman knight, who rode a horse
that neither fire nor water could stop in its career,
when its lord urged it on. The knight spurred, and
his horse carried him on well till he charged the
Englishman, striking him over the helmet, so that
it fell down over his eyes ; and as he stretched out
his hand to raise it and uncover his face, the Nor
man cut off his right hand, so that his hatchet fell
to the ground. Another Norman sprung forward
and eagerly seized the prize with both his hands,
but he kept it little space, and paid dearly for it ;
for as he stooped to pick up the hatchet, an Eng
lishman with his long handled axe struck him over
the back, breaking all his bones, so that his entrails
and lungs gushed forth. The knight of the good
horse meantime returned without injury; but on his
way he met another Englishman, and bore him down
under his horse, wounding him grievously, and tram
pling him altogether underfoot.
The good citizens of Rouen, and the young men
of Caen, Faleise and Argentoen, of Anisie and Ma
toen, and he who was then sire d'Aubemare,
and dam Willame de Romare, and the sires de
Litehare, Touke, and La Mare, and the sire
de Neauhou, and a knight of Pirou, Robert the
sire de Belfou, and he who was then sire de Al
nou, the chamberlain of Tancharvile, and the
sire d'Estotevile, and Wiestace d'Abevile, and
the sire de Magnevile, William whom they call
Crespin, and the sire de St. Martin, and dam
William des Molins, and he who was sire des
Pins; all these were in the battle, and there was
not one of them that did not render great aid.
A vassal from Grente-mesnil 31 was that day in
great peril ; his horse ran away with him, so that
he was near falling, for in leaping over a bush the
bridle rein broke, and the horse plunged forward.
The English seeing him ran to meet him with their
hatchets raised, but the horse took fright, and turn
ing quickly round brought him safe back again.
Old Gifrei de Meaine, and old Onfrei de Bo
hun, Onfrei de Cartrai, and Maugier a newly
made knight, were there also. William de Garenes
came too, his helmet setting gracefully on his head ;
and old Hue de Gornai, and together with him
his men of Brai. With the numerous forces they
brought, they killed great numbers.
And Engerran de Aigle came also, with shield
slung at his neck; and gallantly handling his spear,
struck down many English. He strove hard to serve
the duke well, for the sake of the lands he had pro
mised him. And the viscount of Toarz was no
coward that day. And Richard d'Avrencin was
there, and with him were the sire de Biarz , and
the sire de Solignie , and the butler d'Aubignie,
and the lords de Vitrie, de Lacie, de Val de
Saire, and de Tracie; and these forming one
troop, fell on the English off hand, fearing neither
fence nor fosse ; many a man did they overthrow
that day ; many did they maim, and many a good
horse did they kill.
Hugh the sire de Montfort, and those of Es
pine, Port, Courcie, and Jort also, that day
slew many English. He who was then sire de Re
viers, brought with him many knights who were
foremost in the assault, bearing the enemy down
with their warhorses. Old Willame de Moion
had with him many companions ; and Raol Teis
son de Cingueleiz, and old Rogier Marmion,
carried themselves as barons ought, and afterwards
received a rich guerdon for their service.
NEXT the company of Neel rode Raol de Gael ;
he was himself a Breton, and led Bretons ; he served
for the land which he had, but he held it short time
enough; for he forfeited it, as they say.
Avenals des Biarz 3 was there, and Paienals des
Mostiers-Hubert * ; and Robert Bertram, who was
Tort (crooked) 5 , but was very strong when on horse
back, had with him a great force, and many men
fell before him. The archers of Val de Roil 6 , and
those of Bretoil 7 , put out the eyes of many an En
glishman with their arrows. The men of Sole 8 and
Oirevais, and of St. Johan and Brehal 10 , of Brius 11
and of Homez 12 , were to be seen on that day, strik
ing at close quarters, and holding their shields over
their heads, so as to receive the blows of the hat
chets. All would rather have died than have failed
their lawful lord.
And there were also present the lords of Saint
Sever and Caillie , and the sire de Semillie 15 , and
Martels de Basquevile ; and near him the lords
valier de Lacie, with the lords de Gascie, d'Oil
lie, and de Sacie, and the sires de Vaacie, del
Torneor, and de Praeres, and Willame de Co
lumbieres, and old Gilbert d'Asnieres, de Chaig
nes, and de Tornieres, and old Hue de Bolebec,
and Dam Richart, who held Orbec, and the sire
de Bonnesboz, and the sires de Sap, and de
Gloz, and he who then held Tregoz; he killed
two Englishmen ; smiting the one through with his
lance, and braining the other with his sword ; and
then galloped his horse back, so that no English
man touched him.
And the sire de Monfichet was there, leading
a gallant party; and the ancestor of Hue li Bigot,
who had lands at Maletot, and at Loges and Cha
non, and served the duke in his house as one of his
seneschals, which office he held in fee. He had
with him a large troop, and was a noble vassal.
He was small of body, but very brave and bold, and
assaulted the English with his men gallantly.
And now might be heard the loud clang and cry
of battle, and the clashing of lances. The English
stood firm in their barricades, and shivered the
lances, beating them into pieces with their bills and
maces. The Normans drew their swords and hewed
down the barricades, and the English in great trou
ble fell back upon their standard, where were col
lected the maimed and wounded.
Then the sire de la Haie charged on, and neither spared nor pitied any ; striking none whom he
did not kill, and inflicting wounds such as none could cure.
The lords deVitrie and Urinie , deMoubrai
and Saie , and the sire de la Ferte , smote down
many of the English, most of whom suffered grie
vously, and many of them were killed. Botevilain
and Trossebot feared neither blow nor thrust, but
heartily gave and took many on that day.
William Patric de la Lande called aloud for
king Harold, saying that if he could see him, he
would appeal him of perjury. He had seen him at
la Lande, and Harold had rested there on his way
through, when he was taken to the duke, then at
Avranches, on his road to Brittany. The duke made
him a knight there, and gave him and his compa
nions arms and garments, and sent him against the
Bretons. Patric stood armed by the duke's side,
and was much esteemed by him.
There were many knights of Chauz, who joust
ed and made attacks. The English knew not how
to joust, nor bear arms on horseback, but fought with
hatchets and bills. A man when he wanted to strike
with one of their hatchets, was obliged to hold it
with both his hands, and could not at the same time,
as it seems to me, both cover himself and strike with
The English fell back upon a rising ground, and
the Normans followed them across the valley, at
tacking them on foot and horseback. Then Hue de
Mortemer, with the sires d'Auviler, d'Onebac,
and Saint-Cler, rode up and charged, overthrow
Robert Fitz Erneis fixed his lance, took his
shield, and galloping towards the standard with his
keen-edged sword, struck an Englishman who was
in front, killed him, and then drawing back his
sword, attacked many others, and pushed straight
for the standard, trying to beat it down; but the En
glish surrounded it, and killed him with their bills.
He was found on the spot, when they afterwards
sought for him, dead, and lying at the standard's foot.
Robert count of Moretoing never went far from
the duke. He was his brother on the mother's side,
and brought him great aid. The sire de Herecort
was also there, riding a very swift horse, and gave
all the help he could. The sires de Crievecoer ,
Driencort, and Briencort , also followed the
duke wherever he moved. The sires de Combrai , and Alnei ; de Fontenei , Rebercil , and
Molei , challenged Harold the king to come forth,
and said to the English, ' Stay ! stay ! where is
your king ? he that perjured himself to William ?
He is a dead man, if we find him.'
Many other barons there were, whom I have not
even named ; for I cannot give an account of them
all, nor can I tell of all the feats they did, for I
would not be tedious. Neither can I give the names
of all the barons, nor the surnames of all whom
the duke brought from Normandy and Brittany in
his company. He had also many from Mans and
Thouars ; and Angevins and Poitevins ; and men
of Ponthieu and Bologne. He had also soldiers
from many lands, who came some for land and some
for money. Great was the host, and great the en
Duke William fought gallantly, throwing himself
wherever the greatest press was, beating down many
who found no rescue ; so that it might easily be
seen that the business in hand was his own. He
who bore his gonfanon that day Tostein , Fitz
Rou le blanc by name, born at Bee near Fescamp
was a brave and renowned knight. He bore the gon
fanon boldly, high aloft in the breeze, and rode by
the duke, going wherever he went. Wherever the
duke turned, he turned also, and wheresoever he
stayed his course, there he rested also. And the
duke fought where the greatest throng was, where
he saw the most English, and wherever the Normans
were attacking and slaughtering them. He also
had around him a great company, vavassors of Nor
mandy, who to save their lord would have put their
own bodies between him and the enemies' blows.
Alain Fergant , count of Brittany, lead a great
company of Bretons, a bold and fierce people, who
willingly go wherever booty is to be won. They
wounded and killed many; and few that they struck
stood their ground. Alain Fergant himself fought
like a noble and valiant knight, and led his Bretons
on, doing great damage to the English.
The sire de St. Galeri, and the count d'Ou ,
and Roger de Montgomeri and dam Ameri de Toarz
also demeaned themselves like brave men, and those
whom their blows reached were ill handled.
DUKE WILLIAM pressed close upon the English
with his lance ; striving hard to reach the standard
with the great troop he led ; and seeking earnestly
for Harold, on whose account the whole war was.
The Normans follow their lord, and press around
him; they ply their blows upon the English; and
these defend themselves stoutly, striving hard with
their enemies, returning blow for blow.
One of them was a man of great strength, a wres
tler, who did great mischief to the Normans with
his hatchet; all feared him, for he struck down
a great many Normans. The duke spurred on his
horse, and aimed a blow at him, but he stooped, and
so escaped the stroke; then jumping on one side,
he lifted his hatchet aloft, and as the duke bent to
avoid the blow, the Englishman boldly struck him
on the head, and beat in his helmet, though with
out doing much injury. He was very near falling
however, but bearing on his stirrups he recovered
himself immediately; and when he thought to have
revenged himself on the vagabond by killing him,
the rogue had escaped, dreading the duke's blow.
He ran back in among the English, but he was not
safe even there, for the Normans seeing him, pur
sued and caught him; and having pierced him
through and through with their lances, left him dead
on the ground.
Where the throng of the battle was greatest, the
men of Kent and of Essex fought wondrously well,
and made the Normans again retreat, but without
doing them much injury. And when the duke saw
his men fall back, and the English triumphing over
them, his spirit rose high, and he seized his shield
by the ' enarmes V and his lance, which a vassal
handed to him, and took his post by his gonfanon.
Then those who kept close guard by him, and
rode where he rode, being about a thousand armed
men, came and rushed with closed ranks upon the
English ; and with the weight of their good horses,
and the blows the knights gave, broke the press of
the enemy, and scattered the crowd before them, the
good duke leading them on in front. Many pur
sued and many fled ; many were the Englishmen
who fell around, and were trampled under the horses,
crawling upon the earth, and not able to rise.
Many of the richest and noblest men fell in that
rout, but still the English rallied in places ; smote
down those whom they reached, and maintained the
combat the best they could; beating down the men
and killing the horses. One Englishman watched
the duke, and plotted to kill him ; he would have
struck him with his lance, but he could not, for the
duke struck him first, and felled him to the earth.
Loud was now the clamour, and great the slaugh
ter; many a soul then quitted the body it inhabit
ed. The living marched over the heaps of dead, and
each side was weary of striking. He charged on
who could, and he who could no longer strike still
pushed forward. The strong struggled with the
strong ; some failed, others triumphed ; the cowards
fell back, the brave pressed on ; and sad was his
fate who fell in the midst, for he had little chance
of rising again ; and many in truth fell who never
rose at all, being crushed under the throng.
William of Jumièges/Orderic Vitalis(Gesta)
The battle commenced at the third hour of the ides [14th] of October, and was fought desperately the whole day, with
the loss of many thousand men on both sides. The Norman duke drew up his light troops, consisting of archers and men
armed with cross-bows,
in the first line ; the infantry in armour formed the second rank ; and in the third were placed the cavalry, in the centre
of which the duke stationed himself with the flower of his troops, so as to be able to issue his commands, and give support
to every part of the army. On the other side, the English troops, assembled from all parts of the neighbourhood, took post
at a place which was anciently called Senlac, many of them personally devoted to the cause of Harold, and all to that of
their country, which they were resolved to defend against the foreigners.
Dismounting from their horses, on which it was determined not to rely, they formed a solid column of infantry, and thus
stood firm in the position they had taken.
Turstin, son of Eollo, bore the standard of Normandy. The sound of the trumpets in both armies was the terrible signal
for beginning the battle. The Normans made the first attack with ardour and gallantry, their infantry rushing forward to
provoke the English, and spreading wounds and death through their ranks by showers of arrows and bolts. The English, on
their side, made a stout resistance, each man straining his powers to the utmost. The battle raged for some time with
the utmost violence between both parties. At length the indomitable bravery of the English threw the Bretons, both horse
and foot, and the other auxiliary troops composing the left wing, into confusion, and, in their rout, they drew with
them almost all the rest of the duke's army, who, in their panic, believed that he was slain. The duke, perceiving that
large bodies from the enemy had broken
their ranks in pursuit of his flying troops, rode up to the fugitives and checked their retreat, loudly threatening them,
and striking with his lance. Taking off his helmet, and exposing his naked head, he shouted : ' See, I am here ; I am still
living, and, by God's help, shall yet have the victory.' Suddenly the courage of the fugitives was restored by these bold
words of the duke; and, intercepting some thousands of their pursuers, they cut them down in a moment.
In this manner, the Normans, twice again pretending to retreat, and when they were followed by the English, suddenly
wheeling their horses, cut their Pursuers off from the main body, surrounded and slew them. The ranks of the English
were much thinned by these dangerous feints, through which they fell separated from each other ; so that, when thousands
were thus slaughtered, the Normans attacked the survivors with still greater vigour. They were charged home by the troops
of Maine, France, Brittany, and Aquitaine, and great numbers of them miserably perished. Among others present at this
battle, were Eustace, Count de Boulogne, William, son of Eichard, Count d'Evreux, Geoffrey, son of Eobert, Count de Mortagne,
William Fitz- Osbern, Eobert, son of Eobert de Beaumont, a novice in arms, Aimer, Viscount de Thouars, Earl Hugh, the
constable, Walter Giffard, and Ealph Toni, Hugh de Grant-mesnil, and William de Warenne, with many other knights illustrious
for their military achievements, and whose names merit a record in the annals of history amongst the most famous warriors.
Duke William surpassed them all in courage and conduct ; for he nobly performed the duties of a general, staying the flight of
his troops, re-animating their courage, their comrade in the greatest dangers, and more frequently calling on them to follow
where he led, than commanding them to advance before him. He had three horses killed under him in the battle ; thrice he
re-mounted, and did not suffer his steeds to be long unavenged. Shields, helmets, and coats of mail were shivered by the
furious and impatient thrusts of his sword ; some he dashed to the earth with his shield, and was at all times as ready
to cover and protect his friends, as to deal death among his foes.
William of Malmesbury
No reference to this subject in this document.
Quedam Exceptiones de Historia Normannorum et Anglorum
The others pressed ahead nonetheless (so) battle was waged on both sides as if Harold had survived.
And so the battle was prolonged until in the night William, by the aid of God, was made the victor.