Saturday, September 25, 2004

On this day in military 1066

On this day in military 1066. King Harald of the Anglo-Saxons defeats Vikings of Harald Hardrada and Earl Tostig at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

When King Edward the Confessor (cool Monty Python name) died, he left no direct heir and the throne passed to Harald of Wessex. However, both Harald's brother, Tostig and William of Normandy (France *SPIT*) decided to contest Harald's claim. While William of Normany was busy putting together an invasion fleet in France, Tostig convinced the Viking, Harald Hardrada to invade England and overthrow King Harald.

Kiing Harald knew already of the two threats to his kingdom, and he was forced to deal with the Vikings first. He met the main force of the Vikings at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire and defeated them, killing Harald Hardrada (fell by a Saxon missile: read arrow) and routing his army. Of the over 200 ships in the initial invasion, only 24 returned to Norway. King Harald's brother, Tostig was buried in York, but Harald Hardrada's body still lies at Stamford Bridge, or as has been said:

"before the battle Harold swore that the Norse leader would get "only seven feet of English soil" for his invasion, and he kept the vow."

Unfortunately for King Harald and Anglo-Saxon England, there was no time to savor the victory as William of Normandy's army was debarking in southern Kent not far from Dover. Harald turned his army 180 degrees and started marching towards his appointment with destiny in one of the most important battles of history, at least from an English standpoint.


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