|Phase 20 - After the Battle|
Consequenses of the battle, the burial of Harold, the destruction of New Romney and the surrender of Dover and London.
|This page shows the documentary evidence from translated original documents|
Anglo Saxon Chronicles
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.
Battle Abbey Chronicles
There lay between the hostile armies a certain dreadful precipice, caused either by a natural chasm of
the earth, or by some
convulsion of the elements. It was of considerable extent, and being overgrown with bushes or brambles
was not very easily seen,
and great numbers of men — principally Normans in pursuit of the English — were suffocated in it. Eor,
ignorant of the danger,
as they were running in a dis-orderly manner, they fell into the chasm and were fearfully dashed to
pieces and slain. And the pit
from this deplorable accident is still called Malfosse.
Amid these miseries there was exhibited a fearful spectacle :the fields were covered with dead bodies,
and on every hand nothing
was to be seen but the red hue of blood. The dales all around sent forth a gory stream which increased at
a distance to the size
of a river. How great, think you, must have been the slaughter of the conquered, when that of the
conquerors is reported upon the
lowest computation to have exceeded ten thousand ? Oh ! how vast a flood of human gore was poured out in
that place where these
unfortunates fell and were slain ! What dashing to pieces of arms ;what clashing of strokes ; what
shrieks of dying men -
what grief ; what sighs, were heard ! How many groans ; how many bitter notes of direst calamity then
sounded forth who can
rightly calculate ! What a wretched exhibition of human misery was there to call forth astonishment ! In
the very contemplation
of it our pen fails us. Yet it is proper to add that, the battle being at length concluded, upon that
submitted to the Normans.
The place being marked where the standard of this rash and hostile invasion fell, the duke went forward
with all haste to
extend his authority. Having at length reached London, the chief city of the realm, he offered the
citizens a treaty of peace,
which they unwillingly accepted, though in the end they joyfully received him as the heir and lord. And
some portion of the
kingdom being now prudently pacified ; by the consent of the magnates and nobles of the state, he was
dignified with the throne
and crown of the English monarchy, and invested with his well-deserved diadem, at the Nativity of Our
Lord, as the one thousand
and sixty-seventh year since his incarnation was coming in.
William Coche, Robert of Bolonia, and Robert Blancard. These personages having viewed the scene of the
battle, judged it an
unsuitable site for so noble a building, but thought a lower place on the western side of the hill more
eligible ; and there,
not to seem remiss in their undertaking, they built some little dwellings. The place is to this day
called Herst, and a certain
thorn-tree growing there is a memorial of this circumstance.
The king on making careful enquiries as to the progress of , the work, was told by the monks that the
place where the monks
dislike where he had determined to build the abbey was situated upon a hill with a parched soil, dry, and
destitute of water ;
and they entreated him that a more convenient spot in the immediate vicinity might be chosen for so
important a work. Upon this
the king grew angry, and commanded them with all haste to lay the foundations of the temple on the very
place where he had
achieved the victory over refuses to his enemy. Not daring to resist him, they complained of the scarcity
of water ; to which
the king is reported to have replied in these memorable words ' If God spare my life, I will so amply
provide for this place,
that wine shall be more abundant here than water is in any other great abbey !
'They next complained of the unfitness of the place, because, the ground being woody for some distance round, proper stone
for the edifice could not be obtained ; but the king, undertaking to defray all expenses out of his own treasury, sent ships
to the town of Caen to when, in compliance with the royal order, they had imported some part of the stone from Normandy, in
the meantime, as is said, it was revealed to a certain religious matron, that upon digging in the place indicated to her in
a vision, they would find plenty of stone for this purpose.
They commenced a search accordingly, and, at no great distance from the boundary which had been marked out for the Abbey,
materials found such an ample supply, that it plainly appeared, that a concealed treasure of it had been espot
'divinely laid in that very place from eternity, for the building there to be erected !
No reference to this subject in this document.
Carmen de Triumpho Normannico
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
Florence of Worcester
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.
Henry of Huntingdon
After the defeat of the English army, and so great a victory, the Londoners submitted peaceably to William, and he was
crowned at Westminster, by Aldred, archbishop of York. Thus the hand of the Lord brought to pass the change which a
remarkable comet had foreshadowed in the beginning of the same year ; as it was said, 'In the year 1066, all England
was alarmed by a flaming comet.'
The battle was fought in the month of October, on the feast of St. Calixtus [Oct. 14]. King William afterwards founded
a noble abbey on the spot, which obtained the fitting name of Battle Abbey.
William fought well ; many an assault did he
lead, many a blow did he give, and many receive,
and many fell dead under his hand. Two horses
were killed under him, and he took a third when
necessary, so that he fell not to the ground, and lost
not a drop of blood. But whatever any one did,
and whoever lived or died, this is certain, that Wil
liam conquered, and that many of the English fled
from the field, and many died on the spot. Then
he returned thanks to God, and in his pride order
ed his gonfanon to be brought and set up on high,
where the English standard had stood ; and that
was the signal of his having conquered, and beaten
down the standard. And he ordered his tent to be
raised on the spot among the dead, and had his
meat brought thither, and his supper prepared
But behold, up galloped Galtier Giffart ; ' Sire,'
said he, ' what are you about ? you are surely not
fitly placed here among the dead. Many an Eng
lishman lies bloody and mingled with the dead, but
yet sound, or only wounded and besmeared with
gore ; tarrying of his own accord, and meaning to
rise at night, and escape in the darkness. They
would delight to take their revenge, and would sell
their lives dearly ; no one of them caring who killed
him afterwards, if he but slew a Norman first; for
they say we have done them much wrong. You
should lodge elsewhere, and let yourself be guard
ed by one or two thousand armed men, whom you
can best trust. Let a careful watch be set this
night, for we know not what snares may be laid for
us. You have made a noble day of it, but I like to
see the end of the work.' ' Giffart,' said the duke,
' I thank God, we have done well hitherto ; and,
if such be God's will, we will go on, and do well
henceforward. Let us trust God for all !'
Then he turned from Giffart, and took off his ar
mour; and the barons and knights, pages and squires
came, when he had unstrung his shield ; and they
took the helmet from his head, and the hauberk from
his back, and saw the heavy blows upon his shield,
and how his helmet was dinted in. And all greatly
wondered, and said, ' Such a baron (ber) never be
strode warhorse, nor dealt such blows, nor did such
feats of arms; neither has there been on earth such
a knight since Rollant and Oliver.'
Thus they lauded and extolled him greatly, and
rejoiced in what they saw; but grieving also for
their friends who were slain in the battle. And the
duke stood meanwhile among them, of noble stature
and mien; and rendered thanks to the king of glory,
through whom he had the victory; and thanked the
knights around him, mourning also frequently for
the dead. And he ate and drank among the dead,
and made his bed that night upon the field.
The morrow was Sunday; and those who had slept
upon the field of battle, keeping watch around, and
suffering great fatigue, bestirred themselves at break
of day, and sought out and buried such of the
bodies of their dead friends as they might find. The
noble ladies of the land also came, some to seek their
husbands, and others their fathers, sons, or bro
thers. They bore the bodies to their villages, and
interred them at the churches ; and the clerks and
priests of the country were ready, and, at the re
quest of their friends, took the bodies that were
found, and prepared graves and lay them therein.
King Harold was carried and buried at Varham;
but I know not who it was that bore him thither,
neither do I know who buried him. Many remained
on the field, and many had fled in the night.
THE duke placed a guard in Hastings, from the
best of his knights, so as to garrison the castle well,
and went thence to Romenel, to destroy it utterly,
because some of his people had arrived there, I know
not by what accident, and the false and traitorous
had killed them by felony. On that account he was
very wroth against them, and grievously punished
them for it.
Proceeding thence, he rested no where till he
reached Dover, at the strong fort he had ordered to
be made at the foot of the hill. The castle on the hill
William of Jumièges/Orderic Vitalis(Gesta)
The victory being secured, the duke returned to the field of battle, where he viewed the dreadful carnage, which could
not be seen without commiseration. There the flower of the youth and nobility of England covered the ground far and
near stained with blood. Harold could not be discovered by his features, but was recognized by other tokens, and his
corpse, being borne to the duke's camp, was, by order of the conqueror, delivered to William Mallet for interment
near the seashore, which had long been guarded by his arms.
Inconstant fortune frequently causes adverse and unex- pected changes in human affairs ; some persons being lifted from
the dust to the height of great power, while others, suddenly falling from their high estate, groan in extreme distress.
Thus Edith, Earl Godwin's relict, who once enjoyed wealth and influence, was now overwhelmed with grief and a prey to the
deepest misfortunes. She had borne seven sons to her husband : Sweyn, Tostig, Harold, Gurth, Alfgar, and Wulnoth. They were
all earls, and distinguished for their handsome persons, as well as what the world calls excellence; but each of them
underwent a different and disastrous fate. Alfgar and Wulnoth, indeed, feared God and lived according to his laws, and
both died in the odour of sanctity confessing the true faith, the one a pilgrim and monk at Eheims, the other at Salisbury.
Eor the other five, following the career of arms, they met their death in a variety of ways, and on different occasions. The
sorrowing mother now offered to Duke William, for the body of Harold, its weight in gold ; but the great conqueror refused such a barter, thinking it was not right that a mother should pay the last honours to one by whose insatiable ambition, vast numbers lay unburied. He issued orders that the bodies of his own soldiers should be buried with the greatest care ; and also gave all the English who applied for leave free liberty to bury those of their friends.
After providing for the decent interment of the dead the duke marched to Romney, and taking it by assault, revenged the slaughter of a party of his troops, who, having landed there by mistake, were fiercely attacked by the in- habitants and cruelly butchered, after great loss on both sides.
The duke then continued his march to Dover, where there was a large body of people collected, because they thought the position impregnable, the castle standing on the summit of a steep rock, overhanging the sea. The garrison, however, struck with panic at the duke's approach, were preparing to surrender, when some Norman squires, greedy for spoil, set the place on fire, and the devouring flames spreading around, many parts were ruined and burnt. The duke, compassionating those who were willing to render him their submission, ordered them to be paid the cost of rebuilding their houses, and their other losses. The castle being taken, eight days were spent in strengthening the fortifications. While he lay there a great number of soldiers, who devoured flesh-meat half raw and drank too much water, died of dysentery, and many more felt the effects to the end of their days. The duke, leaving a garrison in the castle, with those who were suffering from dysentery, marched onward to complete the subjugation of those he had vanquished. The Kentish men, of their own accord, met him not far from Dover and swore fealty to him, delivering hostages for their allegiance.
William of Malmesbury
The effect of war in this affair was trifling ; it. was brought about by the secret and wonderful
counsel of God : since the Angles never again, in any general battle, made a struggle for liberty,
as if the whole strength of England had fallen with Harold, who certainly might and ought to pay the
penalty of his perfidy, even though it were at the hands of the most unwarlike people. Nor in saying
this, do I at all derogate from the valour of the Normans, to whom I am strongly bound, both by my
descent, and for the privileges I enjoy. Still those persons appear to me to err, who augment the
numbers of the English, and underrate their courage ; who, while they design to extol the Normans,
load them with ignominy. A mighty commendation indeed ! that a very warlike nation should conquer a
set of people who were obstructed by their multitude, and fearful through cowardice !