Tapestry from Bayeux is an amazing monument of medieval art. The giant canvas, 68 m long and 50 cm wide, depicts scenes of the Norman conquest of England — an event that radically changed the history of the country.
The invasion was preceded by the emergence of Halley's comet in the sky. The British interpreted this event as an omen of terrible misfortunes. The philistines were not used to bad news. For more than two centuries, England has regularly become the target of Viking attacks. And although the Danish king Knud the Great ruled the country in 1016 - 1035, not Norsemen, but Normans from the duchy in the north of France, were in power here.
The emergence of comet Halley in 1066 - a fragment of tapestry from Bayeux
From the very beginning, representatives of the local Anglo-Saxon nobility resisted the pressure of the Vikings on the island. In 1042, Edward the Confessor, a man of these strata, managed to establish himself on the English throne. Prior to this, almost thirty years, the king spent in exile in Normandy. Edward tried to focus on foreigners from the mainland in everything. Being childless, he even proclaimed heir to the young Norman duke Wilhelm - the future William the Conqueror. Local elites, however, had very different plans.
In early 1066, Edward the Confessor passed away. Vitenagemot (a congregation representing the interests of nobles and clergy) elected Harold Godwinson, the contender of Anglo-Saxon origin, as king. Wilhelm protested this decision with a sword in his hand. He relied on the will of Edward and the pledge of allegiance to Harold (the latter had visited Normandy a few years before and promised to help the duke establish himself on the throne).
Wilhelm thoroughly prepared for the invasion not only from a military, but also from a diplomatic point of view. He sent letters to all the Christian monarchs, in which he accused Harold of perjury and promised to return what belongs to him by right. This complaint was also reviewed by the Pope. The pontiff acknowledged William’s claims to the English throne. So the Duke of Normandy enlisted the support of the church. Now the priests preached that his campaign was being done in the name of the Lord.
Wilgelm the conqueror
The Normans crossed the English Channel and landed in England at the end of September 1066. According to legend, Wilhelm, stepping ashore slipped and fell on both hands. Superstitious warriors took the event for a bad sign. The duke reassured them: “By the grace of God, I seized England with both hands. Now she is mine, and therefore yours. ”
However, not only Normans, but also Vikings invaded England that year. Norwegian Harald Hardrada ahead of William, first landed on the island and moved to York. The army of the Anglo-Saxons broke the uninvited guests at Stamford Bridge on September 25. On the same days, Normans appeared in the south of the country.
Harold Godwinson was between Scylla and Charybdis. The king had to make a forced march to stop the new invasion. Before the battle against the Normans, he built his troops in dense rows. Warriors formed a shield of shields. The most skillful soldiers were khuskarly - the Anglo-Saxon Guard. On the flanks were the militia. A fence was built around the building. Having stood for the barricades all day, the defenders could have won.
Battle of Hastings. Death of harold ii
The main force in the army of William, by contrast, was the cavalry. The Duke relied on her on the day of the battle - October 14, 1066. The cavalry was supposed to attack the wall of shields. However, even after several attempts, the attackers failed to break or upset the Anglo-Saxon formation. There was even a panicked rumor among the Normans that Wilhelm was dead. Tom had to take off his helmet and show his face. Horsemen emboldened by the presence of the leader, again went on the attack.
The decisive episode of the battle was the feudal retreat of the Normans. This maneuver was extremely dangerous and demanded coordinated actions from the "running". The risk, however, proved to be justified. Story Harold flinch. His warriors decided that the enemy was demoralized after several unsuccessful attacks, and rushed in pursuit. When they realized their mistake, it was too late. Riders suddenly turned around and hit again. The king tried to regroup the remaining forces and rebuild the barrier, but circumstances have changed dramatically. Harold himself was struck by an arrow. Together with him were killed his brothers Geert and Leofvin. Under William, two horses were killed that day.
That evening, as a sign of victory, the Duke of Normandy had dinner in a tent set up right on the battlefield, where the dead bodies still lay. The conquest of England continued the next day. True, the outcome of the campaign has already been predetermined. Resistance to the invasion was now only local. William the Conqueror was crowned in London on 1066 Christmas. In place of the ancient Anglo-Saxon state came feudal monarchy, based on the vassal-system and the knightly culture.