|Phase 9 - Battle of Stamford Bridge|
The Battle of Stamford Bridge, and the defeat of Harold Hardrada and Harolds brother Tosti.
|This page shows the documentary evidence from translated original documents|
Anglo Saxon Chronicles
In the midst of this came Harold, king of the English, with all his army, on the Sunday, to Tadcaster; where he collected
his fleet. Thence he proceeded on Monday throughout York. But Harald, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty, with their forces,
were gone from their ships beyond York to Stanfordbridge; for that it was given them to understand, that hostages would be
brought to them there from all the shire.
Thither came Harold, king of the English, unawares against them beyond the bridge; and they closed together
there, and continued long in the day fighting very severely. There was slain Harald the Fair-hair'd, King of Norway,
and Earl Tosty, and a multitude of people with them, both of Normans and English; and the Normans that were left fled
from the English, who slew them hotly behind; until some came to their ships, some were drowned, some burned to death,
and thus variously destroyed; so that there was little left: and the English gained possession of the field. But there
was one of the Norwegians who withstood the English folk, so that they could not pass over the bridge, nor complete the
victory. An Englishman aimed at him with a javelin, but it availed nothing. Then came another under the bridge, who
pierced him terribly inwards under the coat of mail. And Harold, king of the English, then came over the bridge,
followed by his army; and there they made a great slaughter, both of the Norwegians and of the Flemings. But Harold let
the king's son, Edmund, go home to Norway with all the ships. He also gave quarter to Olave, the Norwegian king's son,
and to their bishop, and to the earl of the Orkneys, and to all those that were left in the ships; who then went up to
our king, and took oaths that they would ever maintain faith and friendship unto this land. Whereupon the King let them
go home with twenty-four ships. These two general battles were fought within five nights.
Battle Abbey Chronicles
No reference to this subject in this document.
No reference to this subject in this document.
Carmen de Triumpho Normannico
Meanwhile the accursed King Harold at the far end of the land
Honed treacherous blades to cut down a brother
For the brother had occupied no small part of the kingdom
Harold rushed the army to confront the enemy
He did not fear to deliver the limbs of a brother to death
Each to the other waged worse than civil war
But alas, Harold was the victor.
Florence of Worcester
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.
Henry of Huntingdon
When this intelligence reached Harold, king of England, he advanced with a powerful
army, and came up with the invaders at Stanford Bridge.The battle was desperately fought,
the armies being engaged from daybreak to noonday, when, after fierce attacks
on both sides, the Norwegians were forced to give way before the superior numbers of the English,
but retreated in good order. Being driven across the river, the living trampling on the corpses
of the slain, they resolutely made a fresh stand. Here a single Norwegian, whose name
ought to have been preserved, took post on a bridge, and hewing down more than forty of the English
with a battleaxe, his country's weapon, stayed the advance of the whole English army till the
ninth horn:. At last some one came under the bridge in a boat, and thrust a spear into him,
through the chinks of the flooring. The English having gained a passage, King Harold and Tosti
were slain and their whole army were either slaughtered, or, being taken prisoners, were burnt.
He found him beyond the Humber, in a town where he had just dined. Harold carried himself
very loftily, for he had been beyond Humber, and had had great success in overcoming Tosti. Tosti
was Harold's brother ; but unfortunately they had become enemies, and Tosti had sent his friends to
Harold, calling upon him to give him his father's fief, now that it had fallen out, that, right or wrong,
he had become king; and requiring him to let him have the lands their father held by inheritance; and
he promised on this being done to ask no more; but to become his man, and acknowledge him for lord,
and serve him as well as he did King Edward.
But Harold would not agree to this ; he would neither give nor exchange ought with him ; so Tosti
became very wroth, and crossed over to Denmark, and brought with him Danes and Norwegians, and
landed over against Eurowick. When Harold learnt the news, he made himself ready, and set out against
Tosti, and fought with and conquered him and his troops. Tosti was killed near Pontfrait, and his
army besides suffered great loss. Then Harold set out on his return from Pontfrait, and glorified him
self exceedingly. But foolish is he who glorifies himself, for good fortune soon passeth away ; bad
news swiftly comes ; soon may he die himself who has slain others; and the heart of man often rejoiceth
when his ruin is nigh.
Harold returned rejoicing and triumphing, bearing himself right proudly, when news met him that
put other thoughts in his mind ; for lo ! the knight is come who set out from Hastings. ' The Normans,'
he cried, ' are come ! they have landed at Hastings ! thy land will they wrest from thee, if
thou canst not defend thyself well ; they have enclosed a fort, and strengthened it round about with
palisades and a fosse.'
'Sorry am I,' said Harold, 'that I was not there at their arrival. It is a sad mischance; I had better
have given what Tosti asked, so that I had been at the port when William reached the coast, and had
disputed his landing ; we might then have driven so many into the sea that they would never have
made good their landing, nor have touched ought of ours : neither would they have missed death on
land, if they had escaped the dangers of the sea. But thus it hath pleased the heavenly king; and
I could not be every where at once.'
There was a baron of the land I do not know his name who had loved the duke well, and was in
secret council with him, and desired, so far as he was able, that no harm should befall him. This
baron sent word to him privily, that he was too weak ; that he had come with too little force, as it seemed
to him, to do what he had undertaken ; for that there were so many men in England, that it would be very
hard to conquer. So he counselled him in good faith, and in true love, to leave the country and go home
to his own land before Harold should arrive ; for he feared lest he should miscarry, and he should grieve
much, he said, if any misfortune should befall him. The duke answered briefly, that he saw no reason
for doubt ; that he might rely upon it, if he had but ten thousand of as noble knights as those of whom
he had sixty thousand or more, he would still fight it out. Yea, he said, he would never go back till
he had taken vengeance on Harold.
William of Jumièges/Orderic Vitalis(Gesta)
In the month of August, Harold, king of Norway, and Tostig, with a powerful fleet set sail over the wide sea,
and, steering for England with a favourable aparctic, or north wind, landed in Yorkshire, which was the first object
of their invasion.
Meanwhile, Harold of England, having intelligence of the descent of the Norwegians, withdrew his
ships and troops from Hastings and Pevensey, and the other seaports on the coast lying opposite to Neustria, which
he had carefully guarded with a powerful armament during the whole of the year, and threw himself unexpectedly, with
a strong force by hasty marches on his enemies from the north. A hard-fought battle ensued, in which there was great
effusion of blood on both sides, vast numbers being slain with brutal rage. At last the furious attacks of the English
secured them the victory, and the king of Norway as well as Tostig, with their whole army, were slain. The field of
battle may be easily discovered by travellers, as great heaps of the bones of the slain lie there to this day, memorials
of the prodigious numbers which fell on both sides.
William of Malmesbury
No reference to this subject in this document.
Quedam Exceptiones de Historia Normannorum et Anglorum
It happened at this time Harold was with his brother Tostig and Harald, nicknamed Hardrata, king of the Norwegians, above the
Humber River; they were ambushed near the river; (Harold) killed all persons fighting with his brother.