Confessions of a Conqueror: The Battle of Hastings

1066 is a date engraved on the minds of English schoolchildren almost as soon as they know their ABC. It's the year that William the Conqueror of Normandy sailed over from France with his army of 12,000 men and claimed his place in history as the last successful invader of this green and pleasant land.

image: Justine Shapiro joins in a Battle of Hastings re-enactmentHistory Facts

Where: Hastings, Sussex, Southeast coast of England
When: 1066
History: Epic battle where William the Conqueror and the Normans of France seized control of England
Go there for: Swashbuckling re-enactments and the very foundation stone of modern English history

 

Just outside the Sussex seaside town of Hastings is the site where one of the most significant battles in the history of England took place – the Battle of Hastings.

What’s the history here?

1066 is a date engraved on the minds of English schoolchildren almost as soon as they know their ABC. It’s the year that William the Conqueror of Normandy sailed over from France with his army of 12,000 men and claimed his place in history as the last successful invader of this green and pleasant land.

William was a distant cousin of the late king, Edward the Confessor, the monarch who built Westminster Abbey. He claimed that Edward had promised to make him heir to the English throne, so when Edward died and Harold became king, William was most aggrieved. William set out from Normandy to lay claim to a land he though was rightfully his.

The English put up a good fight but it was the death of their Anglo-Saxon ruler King Harold, allegedly speared through the eye by an arrow, which clinched the Norman victory.

image: Justine Shapiro joins in a Battle of Hastings re-enactment

Justine Shapiro joins in a Battle of Hastings re-enactment

What’s there to see and do?

– Every year in mid October enthusiasts flock to Hastings to re-enact the fateful battle. Complete with chain-mail armour and an unerring knowledge of the life and times of the Normans and Anglo-Saxons, they put on an entertaining and educational performance – though of course the ending’s always a foregone conclusion!

– Explore the magnificent ruins of Battle Abbey, built by William the Conqueror to celebrate his victory.

– The events of the Battle were graphically recorded in the Bayeaux Tapestry, a 230 ft woven cloth probably commissioned by Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux and William’s half-brother. The original tapestry is on display in the city of Bayeaux, Normandy, but you can see a print at the Battle Museum of Local History in Hastings.

 

MORE INFORMATION

Battle Tourist Information Centre
Tel: +44 (0)1424 773721
Fax: +44 (0)1424 773436

Battle Museum of Local History
Memorial Hall
High Street
Battle
East Sussex
England
Tel: +44 (0)1424 775955

1066 Country
Excellent site with detailed tourist information about Hastings and the surrounding area.

Battle 1066
Fantastic site covering the Battle of Hastings in great detail, with great graphics too.

 

By Jess Halliday

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