The Bayeux Tapestry was one of the most memorable and successful battles that I have ever participated in as a Norman soldier. The battle was fought between the mighty Norman soldiers and the English soldiers. It was also called the Battle of Hastings because it was fought in Hastings, England. Harold, who was the king of England at the time of the battle, had murdered his brother, and thus, his position as king was disputed. The Duke of Normandy, the Conqueror led my side, the Normans to war. In reality, William was supposed to be the King of England, and this battle was meant to prove this.
Duke William has been known to be extremely successful in the battlefield, and this has branded him as a victorious military commander. Before the battle, we travelled by water to England (BBC, 2010). There was an incredibly large fleet of warfare ships, which were used to transport me, the duke and other soldiers who fought in the war. The ship used by William was commonly known as the Mora, and it was the biggest from among the other ships. People close to Duke William said that the ship was a gift from his wife who was called Mathilda. The ship was extremely fast.
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Apart from the duke, there were other leaders, such as Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux. The number of soldiers was around seven thousand men. In Norman culture, the first born son inherits all the properties of the family, the rest of the sons are left to fend for themselves, unless the first born son decides to share his wealth with them. Most of the time, these sons choose to serve in war. This explains the excessive number of Norman soldiers. There were also other supporters of the duke that had come to support him, bringing with them able men to fight in the war.
Bishop Odo came with the Bretons. There were also the French, who had been urged to join in the war by William. In return for their service to the duke, they were promised pieces of land. There were the Flemish as well, who would also get pieces of land. The journey ended at the Pevensey Bay of England and the duke alighted from the Mora, and fell in his arms and knees on the beach. This sign could be taken to mean that he was asking for blessings from God. The following day, we awoke very early in the morning in order to prepare for the long-awaited battle.
The battleground was Hastings, and since Pevensey Bay was close by, Duke William ordered us to get ready and wait for King Harold to come to us. I could sense that the decision to wait for the Saxon army that was led by King Harold was a war tactic that was adopted by William, in order to weigh the tactfulness of King Harold. Each side had its own distinct color of uniforms. Thus, I and the rest of the soldiers wore blue leather jackets. There was steel chain or ring mail weaved into the jacket. We were also provided with a conical helmet that had a nose guard.
The exact date the war began was October 14, 1066. Early in the morning, the duke led us to attack the Saxon army. My team was at the centre, the Bretons were on the right and the French were on our left. The battle began with both sides showing their military power, men fell to the ground and died, as others stood tall to support their side. I could hear and see men scream, others fell heavily to the ground, while others like me fought tactically, bringing the enemy down. The battle lasted the entire day. By around midday, the battle had escalated, as my side started to gain victory.
The Normans could be seen tackling their opponents with the axes that belonged to them. The sight of the Saxon army tearing down the Norman horses with these axes really frightened me. In the afternoon, the Bretons, who were on our side seemed to be giving up, and they were pursued by the whole of the Saxon army (Barrow, 2011). This gave the Norman side a chance to reorganize themselves, and the remaining three teams attacked the Saxon army from both sides. This threw the Saxon army into confusion, and the Norman side took this chance to mercilessly assault the Saxons.
In the afternoon, the Saxon army began to break up, and they were soon overcome. Their leader, King Harold, was wounded in the eye by a spear and fell to the ground. I watched as he tried to remove the spear from his eye, but he was finally overcome by the pain. His royal fellows came to defend him, and this action saw a deadly fight arise, between the men and the Norman soldiers. These men were crushed to the ground, and King Harold was then immediately killed by one of our men (Barrow, 2011). The king’s two brothers were also murdered on the spot.
Witnessing this, some of the remainder of the Saxon army fled. The remaining Saxon men continued to fight, but they were executed and soon, there were no more Saxon soldiers. There were heaps of bodies filled with fresh-smelling blood all over. Duke William had led the Norman army to victory, and subsequently, the bodies were removed from the center of the field and a tent was built for William, and celebrations started. I felt that it was such an honor to fight and win in the battlefield, and more so, to fight alongside the most honorable man, Duke William.
There were various weapons used in the war, as the war was a combat between two different military combats. The Normans used swords that were edged and pointed on two sides. These were seven to eight meters tall. The swords were mainly used by soldiers who were on horses. The Normans also used archers, clubs, maces and spears, which were used by the Saxon army as well. The Saxons used deadly axes that could kill a horse in a single blow. Bishop Odo, of the Norman side used a club because it was highly forbidden for clergymen to shed blood.
All the Saxons were on foot; hence they did not have any horses. Each side had its own fighting tactics. The Saxon army consisted of nobles that were from each household, these nobles formed their own troops and they were known as housecarls. These were paid troops, and thus they had utmost respect to their leader. There were also the Fryds, on the side of the Saxons. These were peasants, and most of them were not trained in war (Kelly, 2011). The Saxon army arranged themselves in a wedge-shape.
At the tip of the wedges, amply equipped soldiers were placed there in order to provide extreme defense. The other men were arranged according to ranks, and it is in these distinct ranks that these men fought. The Saxons favored the axe, as a favorite weapon. The Normans divided themselves into three groups; there were men on horses, those who used archers and dismounted soldiers. The terrifying weapon among the Normans was the arrow. The Normans attacked the Saxons from both sides. During the battle, Duke William went around the battlefield, his head barred.
This was to serve as an assurance that he was unhurt, and it also served as a motivation to the Norman soldiers (Kelly, 2011). References Barrow, Mandy. (2011). The Normans in Britain. Retrieved on August 8, 2011 from http://www. woodlands-junior. kent. sch. uk/Homework/bt/who. htm British Battles. com. (2010). The Norman Conquest of England. Retrieved on August 8, 2011 from http://www. britishbattles. com/norman-conquest/battle-hastings. htm Kelly, Patrick. (2011). The Normans. Retrieved on August 8, 2011 from http://www. albion-swords. com/articles/norman. htm