948 years ago this week, William the Conqueror scored a decisive victory at Hastings in Sussex. This event changed the course of English history and English life forever.
Here’s video of a reenactment of the battle that took place on the 940th anniversary.
In my novel, Conquering Passion I describe the emotions of my Norman hero, Ram de Montbryce, in the minutes before the battle began. Here’s the excerpt.
Ram quickly checked his equipment, the hooded hauberk and iron helmet, spear, shield and trusty sword in its scabbard. He smiled at a brief memory of Mabelle heaving his sword into a muddy pond, but quickly banished the thought. He couldn’t afford to be distracted from the dire business at hand. His hauberk, with three layers of metal circles, looped and soldered together, would give him good protection, especially with the extra rectangular breastplate of chain mail secured to protect his chest. The bottom of his hauberk tunic, split at front and back, covered his thighs like a skirt, and made riding more comfortable. He wished it covered the lower part of his long legs but would have to make sure the pointed end of his tapering wooden shield did that. He was proud of his leather covered shield, one of the few with a coat of arms. Fide et Virtute.
His valet had shaved the back of his head, Norman style. He would be doing a lot of sweating this day, and couldn’t afford to have his vision obscured. The nosepiece of his helmet, protecting his nose, and to some extent his eyes, was enough of a distraction.
Duke William positioned his army looking towards Caldbec Hill. Ram’s gaze ranged slowly over the front ranks of archers, then to the six rows of infantry behind them, and then to the cavalry, the fearsome Bretons on the left, the Flemish contingent on the right, the Normans in the center. As he surveyed the daunting sight, Rambaud de Montbryce knew with dire certainty this would be a different fight from any he had been in before. It would be a mighty battle to the death that would change the course of history. His own, his country’s and his Duke’s.
Immense pride and sheer terror coursed through his veins.