Following the death of Edward the Confessor in January 1066, William of Normandy began preparing the invasion of England.

The invading army (Norman Conquest) landed on Sept. 27, 1066 with 600 ships, 2,500 horses and 10,000 men. Because the English army was north, fighting the Battle of Stamford Bridge, the landing was unopposed and the invading Norman force was able to move inland unimpeded and establish strong defensive positions at Pevensey.

William and the invading army then waited two weeks at their entrenchments. Some historians believe that the Battle of Stamford Bridge was part of the overall strategy of William of Normandy as he was a skilled tactician and seasoned general. Perhaps William was waiting on the outcome of the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Harold Godwinsson, king of England, brought his army south, gathering reinforcements. Godwinsson was informed, to his dismay, that he had been excommunicated by the Pope, and William of Normandy was wearing the Pope's ring. Godwinsson felt the forces of his known world arrayed against him.

Arriving at the encampment of the Norman army, Godwinsson set up his army which was vastly outnumbered by the invading force. The actual battle was short - 2-6 hours. The outcome was a foregone conclusion. The invading Norman army suffered comparatively few casualties. The English army was annhilated.

The Battle of Hastings and Norman Conquest was the starting point for a pivotal change in English history. Prior to 1066, England was a relatively poor power base and not a major player in European events. The Norman occupation began with England, then moved to Wales and Scotland, and later Ireland. Following the conquest of England, William divided England's lands awarding them to Norman nobles who appointed overlords to each area. The Anglo-Saxon nobles who had not died at Hastings were deposed from their lands and made serfs. French clergy replaced Anglo-Saxon bishops and abbots. The Normans quickly erected castles around England as a defensive measure. French words became a part of the English language, and Anglo-Saxon became a peasant dialect.

Thus, what has been considered as English domination of the rest of the British Isles as well as other parts of the world, is really Norman. The practice of replacing the local ruling elite, clergy, language and customs began with the Norman conquest of the Anglo-Saxons.

The Battle of Hastings was fought on Saturday 14th October 1066. It was a pivotal battle which changed the course of history dramatically, and rightly deserves to be remembered as such. The opposing armies were led by King Harold of England and Duke William of Normandy.

This battle was anything but a foregone conclusion. It was fought on a knife-edge, and could have gone either way. To begin with, William landed at Pevensey on the 28th of September, just three days after the Saxons and the Norwegians had been slaughtering each other at Stamford Bridge. This was anything but a planned move - William had been waiting weeks for a favourable wind to set sail for England.

Another point of note is that both Harold's enemies landed when the 'official' campaigning season was over. Harold had been expecting William sometime in the summer. William was able to make an unopposed landing because Harold had been forced to recall the general muster of men after keeping them on alert for two months - but now the harvest had to be gathered.

Immediately after landing, William set about securing a base at Hastings and setting the surrounding countryside to fire and sword. His plan was to draw Harold into a quick battle before he could muster a large enough army. Time was on Harold's side, yet he rushed south to London from Stamford Bridge. He probably hoped to catch William by surprise, as he had done with the Norwegians. Harold moved out of London after only 6 days. He still hadn't built his army up to its full potential. Apparently troops were still flocking to his standard when he set up his army on Caldbec Hill.

On the morning of the battle, William stole the march and advanced on Harold's position on Senlac Hill. The armies on both sides numbered around 6000 men. The differences are that William had many mounted knights (around 2000) while the Saxons all fought on foot. William had Norman, Flemish and Breton troops and had quite a contingent of archers, as demonstrated at one point in the Bayeux tapestry. The Tapestry depicts only one single Saxon archer! Otherwise both sides had similar equipment, with hauberks, shields and longswords for many troops. The Saxons also made use of the battle axe and spear.

The battle took place in 3 distinct phases, with the Saxons aligned in their formidable shield wall along the crest of the hill, while the Normans attempted to storm their position. Here it is worth noting that the weather was lovely and without a hint of rain. Rain and mud would have considerably hampered cavalry forces attempting to march uphill.

The first phase opened with an assault by the Norman archers, which seems to have had little effect. Following this the infantry advanced up the hill, followed by the cavalry. William's troops consisted of 3 columns - the Bretons on the left, the Flemish on the right, and William with his Norman troops in the centre. The English troops hailed missiles down upon the advancing enemy, and once at close quarters, dealt vicious blows with sword and axe, hewing into men and horse alike. Apparently the Bretons were the first to reach the Saxon phalanx and start taking heavy punishment, ahead of the rest of William's forces. Finding themselves isolated and hard-pressed, they lost heart and retreated.

At this point a contingent of Saxons broke off from the main body to pursue the fleeing Bretons. There was much confusion amongst William's ranks, and some historians deem that had Harold let rip with all his forces he may have seized the day. However William, who was an outstanding general, rallied his troops and with his cavalry cut the errant Saxons from retreat, following which they were overwhelmed and butchered. So ended the first round.

After a brief respite, William again advanced in similar fashion to previously. After heavy fighting, it was the Flemish who broke and fled. Again they were followed by a band of British troops, who were soon surrounded and cut down. Some have suggested that William employed feigning tactics at Hastings - pretending retreat to draw his enemy out. However this seems unlikely - feigning techniques worked best on level ground. They lost some of their effectiveness when one had to march uphill and then relinquish that ground. Whether feigned or not, the result was that again what could have been turned into a disaster for William, was actually converted to his advantage.

The day was now wearing on. The Saxon shield-wall had been thinned, but stood still. At this stage William knew that he had to seize victory before nightfall. Time was not on his side. A draw for Harold was as good as a victory at this stage, since he could expect a constant stream of reinforcements. For William only outright victory counted. With this in mind, he called his troops forth for a third charge.

William urged an all-out assault. As his cavalry and infantry charged up the hill, his archers let fly with their salvos, apparently even when the men were engaged (depicted clearly in the Tapestry). Both sides were tired, but William's men pressed on, urged on by the mace-wielding Bishop Odo of Bayeux (as a cleric it would be most embarassing for him to shed blood, so he would have to content himself with braining his enemies).

And now comes the turning point - the death of Harold. It is unsure whether Harold was slain by mounted knights who broke through the protective phalanx, or by an arrow that struck him in the eye. In the Tapestry there are two injured people depicted beneath the words 'HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST' (Here King Harold is killed). One is clutching an arrow that seems to be stuck in his eye, and another is being hewed down by a horseman. Historians have held varying opinions about which figure represents Harold - some have also claimed that both are Harold. Medieval armies were woven around their leader - knock him down, and the army retreats in dismay. It is very reasonable to imagine that, in the gathering twilight, Harold may have received a fatal blow from a chance arrow. This would have caused the evaporation of Saxon resistance, which collapsed like a house of cards. The Norman knights could have then charged through and completed Harold's demise and mutilation.

It is also unsure whether Harold's younger brothers, Leofwine and Gyrth, died at Harold's side (in the Tapestry their death is depicted much earlier in the battle, but then the Tapestry does not always portray events in their chronological order).

It is also chronicled that William lost 3 horses under him during the battle. Following the death of Harold and the retreat of the Anglo-Saxons, there was a rearguard action at a place later known as the Malfosse, where some Normans were ambushed (though this had little effect on the events of the day).

In summary, William took the field and the glory. He was a great man. But Harold was no less. If William had not been attended by the Goddess of Fortune, maybe things would have gone differently. Suffice to say that Harold did all that he could - but he was up against a great man, and luck was definitely not on his side. Had it been, he would have been remembered as one of the greatest kings of England, perhaps akin to Alfred.

Battle of Hastings, written in 1768, is part of the collection of Rowley poems by Thomas Chatterton. In this work, though, Chatterton hit a bit of a snag. He was in the habit of writing under the pseudonym Thomas Rowley. "Rowley" was a 15th century monk; how then could he be expected to have first hand knowledge of the Battle of Hastings, centuries earlier? The young Chatterton was quick with a solution: this poem was actually written by the Saxon monk Turgot in the 10th century, and translated by Rowley.

During his apprenticeship, Chatterton proved very useful to a man named William Barrett, who was compiling a history of Bristol. Oddly enough, whatever bit of information Barrett needed, whatever documentation or drawing, Chatterton was quick to provide. It's no wonder Barrett didn't question too deeply the source of all these documents. After Chatterton presented him with the first half of Battle of Hastings, he insisted on seeing the rest of it. Chatterton repeatedly tried to find a way out, but Barrett insisted. Finally Chatterton admitted that he couldn't give him the rest of the poem because he hadn't written it yet. Barrett, rather than getting angry, simply ignored the confession and went on with his business. Clearly too much of his own work was now tied up in Chatterton's documents to allow him any doubt of their authenticity.

Battle of Hastings is also the only one of the Rowley poems that actually sounds like it was written by a fifteen year old. He warns the reader at that this is not a work for the weak-stomached; take him seriously. This is the most violent, gory, and disgusting poem I've ever read.

Battle of Hastings

No 1

O Chryste, it is a grief for me to telle,
How manie a nobil erle and valrous knyghte
In fyghtynge for Kynge Harrold noblie fell,
Al fleyne in Hastyngs feeld in bloudie fyghte.

O sea! our teeming donore han thy floude.
Han anie fructuous entendement,
Thou wouldst have rose and sank wyth tydes of bloude,
Before Duke Wyllyam's knyghts han hither went;
Whose cowart arrows manie erles fleyne,
And brued the feeld wyth bloude as season rayne.

And of his knyghtes did eke full manie die,
All passyng hie, of mickle myghte echone,
Whose poygnant arrowes, typp'd with destynie,
Caus'd manie wydows to make myckle mone.
Lordynges, avaunt, that chycken-harted are,
From out of hearynge quicklie now departe;
Full well I wrote, to synge of bloudie warre
Will greeve your tenderlie and mayden harte.
Go, do the weaklie womman inn mann's geare,
And scond your mansion if grymm war come there.

Sonne as the erlie maten belle was tolde,
And sonne was come to byd us all good daie,
Bothe armies on the feeld, both brave and bolde,
Prepar'd for fyghte in champyon arraie.
As when two bulles, destynde for Hocktide fyghte,
Are yoked bie the necke within a sparre,
Theie rend the erthe, and travellyrs affryghte,
Lackynge to gage the sportive bloudie warre;
Soe lacked Harroldes menne to come to blowes,
The Normans lacked for to wielde their bowes.

Kynge Harrolde turnynge to hys leegemen spake;
My merrie men, be not cast downe in mynde;
Your onlie lode for aye to mar or make,
Before yon sunne has donde his welke you'll fynde.
Your lovyng wife, who erst dyd rid the londe
Of Lurdanes, and the treasure that you han,
Wyll falle into the Normanne robber's honde,
Unlesse with honde and harte you plaie the manne.
Cheer up your hartes, chase sorrowe farre awaie,
Godde and Seynct Cuthbert be the worde to daie.

And thenne Duke Wyllyam to his knyghtes did saie;
My merrie menne, be bravelie everiche;
Gif I do gayn hte honore of the daie,
Ech one of you I will make myckle riche.
Beer you in mynde, we for a kyngdomm fyghte;
Lordshippes and honores echone shall possesse;
Be this hte worde to daie, God and my Ryghte;
Ne doubte but God will oure true cause blesse.
The clarions then sounded sharpe and shrille;
Deathdoeynge blades were out intent to kille.

And brave Kyng Harrolde had nowe donde hys saie;
He threw wythe myghte amayne hys shorte horse-spear,
The noise it made the duke to turn awaie,
And hytt his knyghte, de Beque, upon the ear.
His cristede beaver dyd him smalle abounde;
The cruel spear went through all his hede;
The purpel bloude came goushynge to the grounde,
And at Duke Wyllyam's feet he tumbled deade:
So fell the myghtie tower of Standrip, whenne
It felte the furie of hte Danish menne.

O Asslem, son of Cuthbert, holie Sayncte,
Come ayde thy freend, and shewe Duke Wyllyams payne;
Take up thy pencyl, all hys features paincte;
Thy colorying excells a synger strayne.
Duke Wyllyam sawe hys freende sleyne piteouslie,
His lovynge freende whome he much honored,
For he han lovd hym from puerilitie,
And theie together both han bin ybred:
O! in Duke Wyllyam's harte it raysde a flame,
To whiche the rage of emptie wolves is tame.

He tooke a brasen crosse-bowe in his honde,
And drewe it harde with all hys myghte amein,
Ne doubtyng but the bravest in thelonde
Han by his soundynge arrowe-lede bene sleyne.
Alured's stede, the fynest stede alive,
Bye comelie forme knowlached from the rest;
But nowe his destind howre dyd aryve,
The arrowe hyt upon his milkwhite breste:
So have I seen a ladie-smock soe white,
Blownin the mornynge, and mowd downe at night.

With thilk a force it dyd his bodie gore,
That in his tender guttes it entered,
In veritee a fulle clothe yarde or more,
And downe with staiten noyse he sunken dede.
Brave Alured, benethe his faithfull horse,
Was smeerd all over with the gorie duste,
And on hym laie the recer's lukewarme corse,
The alured could not hymselfe aluste.
The standyng Normans drew theyr bowe echyne,
And broght full manie Englysh champyons downe.

The Normans kept aloofe, at distaunce stylle,
The Englysh nete but short horse-spears could welde;
The Englysh manie dethe-sure dartes did kille,
And manie arrowes twang'd upon the sheelde.
Kynge Harolds knyghts desir'de for hendie stroke,
And marched furious o'er the bloudie pleyne,
In bodie close, and made hte pleyne to smoke;
Theire sheelds rebounded arrowes back agayne.
The Normans stode aloofe, nor hede the same,
Their arrows woulde do dethe, tho' from far of they came.

Duke Wyllyam drewe agen hys arrowe strynge,
An arrowe withe a sylver-hede drewe he;
The arrowe dauncynge in the ayre dyd singe,
And hytt the horse Tosselyn on the knee.
At this brave Tosslyn threwe his horse-speare;
Duke Wyllyam stooped to avoyde the blowe;
The yrone weapon hummed in his eare,
And hitte Sir Doullie Naibor on the prowe:
Upon his helme soe furious was the stroke,
It splete his bever, and the ryvets broke.

Downe fell the beaver by Tosslyn splete in tweine,
And onn his hede expos'd a punie wounde,
But on Destoutvilles sholder came amene,
And fell'd the champyon to the bloudie grounde.
The Doullie myghte his bowestynge drewe,
Enthoughte to gyve brave Tosslyn bloudie wounde,
But Harolde's asenglave stopp'd as it flewe,
And it fell bootless on the bloudie grounde.
Siere Doullie, when he sawe hys venge thus broke,
Death-doynge blade from out he scabard toke.

And now the battail closde on everych syde,
And face to face appeard the knyghts full brave;
They lifted up their bylles with myckle pryde,
And manie woundes unto the Normans gave.
So have I sene two weirs at once give grounde,
White fomying hygh to rorynge combat runne;
In roarying dyn and heaven-breaking sounde,
Burste waves on waves, and spangle in the sunne;
And when their myghte in burstynge waves is fled,
Like cowards, stele alonge their ozy bede.

Yonge Egelrede, a knyghte of comelie mien,
Assynd unto the kynge of Dynesarre,
At echone tylte and tourney he was seene,
And lov'd to be amonge the bloudie warre;
He coudh'd hys launce, and ran wyth mickle myghte
Ageinste the brest of Sieur de Bonoboe;
He grond and sunken ont he place of syghte,
O Chryste! to tele his wounde, his harte was woe.
Ten thousand thoughtes push'd in upon his mynde,
Nor for hymselfe, but those he left behynde.

He dy'd and leffed wyfe and chyldren tweine,
Whom he wyth cheryshment did dearlie love;
In England's court, in goode Kynge Edwarde's regne,
He wonne the tylte, and ware her crymson glove;
And thence unto the place where he was borne,
Together with hys welthe and better wyfe,
To Normandie he dyd perdie returne,
In peace and quietnesse to lead his lyfe;
And now with sovrayn Wyllyam he came,
To die in battel, or get welthe and fame.

Then, swefte as lyghtnynge, Egelredus set
Agaynst du Barlie of the mounten head;
In his dere hartes bloude his longe launce was wett,
And from his courser down he tumbled dede.
So have I sene a mountayne oak, that longe
Has caste his shadowe to the mountayne syde,
Brave all hte wyndes, tho' ever they so stronge,
And view the briers belowe with self-taught pride;
But, whan throwne down by mightie thunder stroke,
He'de rather bee a bryer than an oke.

Then Egelred dyd in a declynie
Hys launce uprere with all hys myghte ameine,
And strok Fitzport upon the dexter eye,
And at his pole the spear came out agayne.
Butt as he drewe it forthe, an arrowe fledde
Wyth mickle myght sent from de Tracy's bowe,
And at hys syde the arrowe entered,
And oute the crymson streme of bloude gan flowe;
In purple strekes it dyd his armer staine,
And smok'd in puddles on the dustie plaine.

But Egelred, before he sunken downe,
With all his myghte amein his spear besped,
It hytte Bertrammil Manne upn the crowne,
And bothe together quicklie sunken dede.
So have I seen a rocke o'er others hange,
Who stronglie plac'd laughde at his slippry state,
But when he falls with heaven-peercynge bange
That he the sleeve unravels all theire fate,
And broken onn the beech thys lesson speak,
The stronge and firme should not defame the weake.

Howel ap Jevah came from Matraval,
Where he by chaunce han slayne a noble's son,
And now was come to fyghte at Harold's call,
And in the battel he much goode han done;
Unto Kynge Harrold he foughte mickle near,
For he was yeoman of hte bodie guard;
And with a targyt and a fyghtyng spear,
He of his boddie han kepte watch and ward:
True as a shadow to a substant thynge,
So true he guarded Harold hys good kynge.

But when Egelred tumbled to the gounde,
He from Kynge Harolde quicklie dyd advaunce,
And strooke de Tracie thilk a crewel wounde,
Hys harte and lever came out on the launce.
And then retreted for the guarde his kynge,
On dented launce he bore the harte away;
An arrowe came from Aussroie Griel's strynge,
Into hys heele betwyxt hys yron staie;
The grey-goose pynion, that thereon was sett,
Eftsoons wyth smokyng crymson bloud was wett.

His bloude was waxen flaminge hotte,
Without adoe he turned once agayne,
And hytt de Griel thilk a blowe, God wote,
Maugre hys helme, he splete his hede in twayne.
This Aussroie was a manne of mickle pryde,
Wose featliest bewty ladden in his face;
His chaunce in warr he ne before han tryde,
But lyv'd in love and Rosaline's embrace;
And like a useless weede amonge the haie
Amonge the fleine warriours Griel laie.

Kynge Harolde then he putt his yeomen bie,
And ferslie ryd into the bloudie fyghte;
Erle Ethelwolf, and Goodrick, and Alfie,
Cuthbert, and Goddard, mical menne of myghte,
Ethelwin, Ethelbert, and Edwin too,
Essred the famous, nad Erle Ethelwarde,
Kynge Harolde's leegemen, erlies hie and true,
Rode after hym, his bodie for to guarde;
The reste of erlies, fyghtynge other wheres,
Stained with Norman bloude their fyghtynge speres.

As when some ryver with the season raynes
White fomynge hie doth breke the bridges oft,
Oerturns the hamelet and all conteins,
And layeth oer the hylls a muddie soft;
So Harold ranne upon his Normanne foes,
And layde the greate and small upon the grounde,
And delte among them thilk a store of blowes,
Full manie a Normanne fell by him dede wounde;
So who he be that ouphant faieries strike,
Their foules will wander to Kynge Offa's dyke.

Fitz Salnarville, Duke William's favourite knyghte,
To noble Edelwarde his life dyd yielde;
Withe hys tylte launce hee stroke with thillk a myghte,
The Norman's bowels steemde upon the feeld.
Old Salmarville beheld hys son lie ded,
Against Erle Edelward his bowe-strynge drewe;
But Harold at once blowe made tweine his head;
He dy'd before the poignant arrowe flew.
So was the hope of all the issue gone,
And in one battle fell the fire and son.

De Aubignee rod fercely thro' the fyghte,
To where the boddie of Salnarville laie;
Quod he; And art thou ded, thou manne of myghte?
I'll be revengd, or die for thee this daie.
Die then thou shalt, Erle Ethelwarde he said;
I am a cunnynge erle, and that can tell;
Then drew hys swerde, and ghastlie cut hys hede,
And on his freend eftsoons he lifeless fell,
Stretch'd on the bloudie pleyne; great God foresend
It be the fate of no such trustie freende!

Then Egwin Sieur Pikeny die attaque;
He turned aboute and vilely souten flie;
But Egwyn cutt so deepe into his back,
He rolled on the grounde and soon dyd die.
His distant sonne, Sire Romara de Biere,
Soughte to revenge his fallen kynsman's lote,
But soone Erle Cuthbert's dented fyghting spear
Stucke in his harte, nad stayd his speed, God wote.
He tumbled downe close by hys kynsman's syde,
Myngle their stremes of pourple bloude, and dy'd.

And now an arrowe from a bowe unwote
Into Erle Cuthbert's harte eftsoons dyd flee;
Who dying sayd; ah me! how hard my lote!
Now slayne, mayhap, of one of lowe degree.
So have I seen a leafie elm of yore
Have been the pride and glorie of hte pleine;
But, when the spendyng landlord is growne poore,
It falls benethe the axe of some rude sweine;
And like the oke, the sovran of the woode,
It's fallen boddie tells you how it stoode,

When Edelward perceeved Erle Cuthbert die,
On Hubert strongest of the Norman crewe,
As wolfs when hungred on the cattel flie,
So Edelward amaine upon him flewe.
With thilk a force he hyt hym to the grounde;
And was demasing howe to take his life,
When he behynde received a ghastlie wounde
Gyven by de Torcie, with a stabbyng knyfe;
Base trecherous Normannees, if such actes you doe,
The conquer'd maie clame victorie of you.

The erlie felt the Torcie's treacherous knyfe
Han made his crymson bloude and spirits floe;
And knowlachyng he soon must quyt this lyfe,
Resolved Hubert should too with hym goe.
He held hys trustie swerd against his breste,
And down he fell, and perc'd him to the harte;
And both together then did take their reste,
Their soules from corpses unaknell'd depart;
And both together soughte the unknown shore,
Where we shall goe, where manie's gon before.

Kynge Harolde Torcie's trechery dyd spie,
And hie alofe his temper'd swerde dyd welde,
Cut offe his arme, and made the bloude to flie,
His proofe steel armoure did him little sheelde;
And not contente, he splete his hede in twaine,
And down he tumbled on the bloudie grounde;
Mean while the other erlies on the playne
Gave and received manie a bloudie wounde,
Such as the arts in warre han learnt with care,
But manie knyghtes were men in women's geer.

Herrewald, borne on Sarim's spreddyng plaine,
Where Thor's fam'd temple manie ages stoode;
Where Druid's, auncient preests dyd ryghtes ordaine,
And in the middle shed the victyms bloude;
Where auncient Bardi dyd their verses fynge,
Or Caesar conquer'd, and his mighty hoste,
And how old Tynyan, necromancing kynge,
Wreck'd all his shyppyng on the Brittish coaste,
And made hym in his tatter'd barks to flie,
'Till Tynyan's dethe and opportunity.

To make it more renomed than before,
(I, tho a Saxon, yet the truthe will telle)
The Saxonnes steynd the place wyth Brittish gore,
Where nete but bloud of sacrifices felle.
Tho' Chrystians, stylle they thoghte mouche of the pile,
And here theie mette when causes dyd it neede;
'Twas here the auncient Elders of the Isle
Dyd by the trecherie of Hengist bleede;
O Hengist! han thy cause bin good and true,
Thou wouldst such murdrous acts as these eschew.

The erlie was a manne of his degree,
And han that daie full manie Normannes sleine;
Three Norman Champyons of his degree
He left to smoke upon the bloudie pleine:
The Sier Fitzbotevilleine did then advaunce,
And with his bowe he smote the erlies hede;
Who eftsoons gored hym with his tylting launce,
And at his horses feet he tumbled dede:
His partying spirit hovered o'er the floude
Of soddayne roushynge mouche lov'd purple bloude.

De Viponte then, a squier of low degree,
An arrowe drewe with all his myghte ameine;
The arrowe graz'd upon the erlies knee,
A punie wounde, that causd but littel peine.
So have I seene a Dolthead place a stone,
Enthoghte to slaie a driving rivers course;
But better han it bin to lett alone,
It onlie drives in on with mickle force;
The erlie, wounded by so base a hynde,
Rays'd furyous doyngs in his noble mynde.

The Siere Chatillion, yonger of that name,
Advaunced next before the erlie's fyghte;
His fader was a manne of mickle fame,
And he renomde and valorous in fyghte.
Chatillion his trustie swerd forth drewe,
The erle drawes his, menne both of mickle myghte;
And at eche other vengouslie they flewe,
As mastie dogs at Hocktide set to fyghte;
Bothe scorned to yeelde, and bothe abhor'de to flie,
Resolv'd to vanquishe, or resolv'd to die.

Chatillion gyt the erlie on the hede,
That splytte eftsoons his cristed helm in twayne;
Which he perforce withe target covered,
And to the battel went with myghte ameine.
The erlie hytte Chatillion thilke a blowe
Upon his breste, his harte was plein to see;
He tumbled at the horses feet alsoe,
And in dethe panges he seez'd the recer's knee:
Faste as the ivy rounde the oke doth clymbe,
So faste he dying gryp'd the racer's lymbe.

The recer then beganne to flynge and kicke,
And toste the erlie off to the grounde;
The erlie's squier then a swerde did sticke
Into his harte, a dedlie ghastlie wounde;
And downe he felle upon hte crymson pleine,
Upon Chatillion's soulless corse of claie;
A puddle streme of bloude flow'd oute amene;
Stretch'd out at length besmer'd with gore he laie;
As some tall oke fell'd from the greenie plaine,
To live a second time upon the main.

The erlie nowe an horse and beaver han,
And nowe agayne appered on the feeld;
And manie a mickle knyghte and mightie manne
To his dethe-doyng swerd his life did yeeld;
When Siere de Broque an arrowe longe lett flie,
Intending Herewaldus to have sleyne;
It miss'd; butt hytte Edardus on the eye,
And at his pole came out with horrid payne.
Edardus felle upon the bloudie grounde,
His noble soule came roushyng from the wounde.

Thys Herewald perceevd, and full of ire
He on the Siere de Broque with furie came;
Quod he; thou'st slaughtred my beloved squier,
But I will be revenged for the same.
Into his bowels then his launce he thruste,
And drew thereout a steemie drerie lode;
Quod he; these offals are for ever curst,
Shall serve the coughs, and rooks, and dawes, for foode.
Then on the pleine the steemie lode hee throwde,
Smokynge wyth lyfe, and dy'd with crymson bloude.

Fitz Broque, who saw his father killen lie,
Ah me! sayde he; what woeful fyghte I see!
But now I must do somethyng more than sigh;
And then an arrowe from the bowe drew he.
Beneth the erlie's navil came the darte;
Fitz Broque on foote han drawne it from the bowe;
And upwards went into the erlie's harte,
And out thecrymson streme of bloude 'gan flowe.
As fromm a hatch, drawne with a vehement geir,
White rushe the burstynge waves, and roar along the weir.

The erle with one honde grasp'd the reder's mayne,
And with the other he his launce besped;
And then felle bleedyng on the bloudie plaine.
His launce it hytte Fitz Broque upon the hede;
Upon his hede it made a wounde full slyghte,
But peerc'd his shoulder, a ghastlie wounde inferne,
Before his optics daunced a shade of nyghte,
Whyche soone was closed ynn a sleepe eterne.
The noble erlie than, withote a grone,
Took flyghte, to fynde the regyons unknowne.

Brave Alured from binethe his noble horse
Was gotten on his leggs, with bloude all smore;
And now eletten on another horse,
Eftsoons he withe his launce did manie gore.
The cowart Norman knyghtes before hym fledde,
And from a distaunce sent their arrowes keene;
But noe such destinie awaits his hedde,
As to be sleyen by a wighte so meene.
Tho oft the oke falls by the villen's shock,
'Tys moe than hyndes can do, to move the rock.

Upon the Chatelet he ferselie sett,
And peerc'd his bodie with a force full grete;
The asenglave of his tylt-launce was wett,
The rollynge bloude alonge the launce did fleet.
Advauncynge, as a mastie at a bull,
He rann his launce into Fitz Warren's harte;
From Partaies bowe, a wight unmerciful,
Within his own he felt a cruel darte;
Close by the Norman champyons he han sleine,
He fell; and mixed his bloude with theirs upon the pleine.

Erle Ethelbert then hove, with clinie just,
A launce, that stroke Partaie upon the thighe,
And pinn'd him downe unto the gorie duste;
Cruel, quod he, thou cruellie shalt die.
With that his launce he enterd at his throte;
He scritch'd and screem'd in melancholic mood;
And at his back eftsoons came out, God wote,
And after it a crymson streme of bloude:
In agonie and peine he there dyd lie,
While life and dethe stove for the masterrie.

He gryped hard the bloudie murdring launce,
And in a grone he left this mortal lyfe.
Behynde the erlie Fiscampe did advance,
Bethoghte to kill him with a stabbynge knife;
But Egward, who perceevd his fowle intent,
Eftsoons his trustie swerde he forthwyth drewe,
And thilke a cruel blowe to Fiescampe sent,
That soule and bodie's bloude at one gate slewe.
Thilk deeds do all deserve, whose deeds so fowle
Will black theire earthlie name, if not their soule.

When lo! an arrowe from Walleris honde,
Winged with fate and dethe daunced alonge;
And flewe the noble flower of Powyslonde,
Howel ap Jevah, who yeleped the stronge.
Whan he the first mischaunce received han,
With horsemans haste he from the armie rodde;
And did repaire unto the cunnynge manne,
Who sange a charme, that dyd it mickle goode;
Then praid Seyncte Cuthbert, and our holie Dame,
To blesse his labour, and to heal the same.

Then drewe the arrowe, and the wounde did seck,
And putt hte teint of holie herbies on;
And putt a rowe of bloude-stones round his neck;
And then did say; go, champyon, get agone.
And now was comynge Harrolde to defend,
And metten with Walleris cruel darte;
His sheelde of wolf-skinn did him not attend,
The arrow peerced into his noble harte;
As some tall oke, hewn from the mountayne hed,
Falls to the pleine; so fell the warriour dede.

His countryman, brave Mervyn ap Teudor,
Who love of hym han from his country gone,
When he perceevd his friend lie in his gore,
As furious as a mountayn wolf he ranne.
As ouphant faieries, whan the moone sheenes bryghte,
In littel circles daunce upon the greene,
All living creatures flie far from their fyghte,
Ne by the race of destinie be seen;
For what he be that ouphant faieries stryke,
Their soules will wander to Kyng Off's dyke.

So from the face of Mervyn Tewdor brave
Ther Normans eftsoons fled awaie aghaste;
And lefte behynde their bowe and asenglave,
For fear of hym, in thilk a cowart haste.
His garb sufficient were to meve affryghte;
A wolf skyn girded round his myddle was;
A bear skyn, from Norwegians wan in fyghte,
Was tytend round his shoulders by the claws:
So Hercules, 'tis sunge, much like to him,
Upon his shoulder wore a lyon's skin.

Upon his thyghes and harte-swefte legges he wore
A hugie goat skyn, all of one grete piece;
A boar skyn sheelde on his bare armes he bore;
His gauntless were the skynn of harte of greece.
The fledde; he followed close upon their heels,
Vowynge vengeance for his dear countrymann;
And Siere de Sancelotte his vengeance feels;
He peerc'd hys backe, and out the bloude ytt ranne.
His bloude went downe the swerde unto his arme,
In springing rivulet, alive and warme.

His swerde was shorte, and broade, and myckle keene,
And no mann's bone could stonde to stoppe itts waie;
The Norman's harte in partes two cutt cleane,
He clos'd his eyne, and clos'd hys eyne for aie.
Then with his swerde he sett on Fitz du Valle,
A knyghte mouch famous for to runne at tylte;
With thilk a furie on hym he dyd falle,
Into his neck he ranne the swerde and hylte;
As myghtie lyghtenynge often has been founde,
To drive an oke into unfallow'd grounde.

And with the swerde, that in his neck yet stoke,
The Norman fell unto the bloudie grounde;
And with the fall ap Tewdore's swerde he broke,
And bloude afreshe came trickling from the wounde.
As when the hyndes, before a mountayne wolfe,
Flie from his paws, and angrie vysage grym;
But when he falls into the pittie golphe,
They dare hym to his bearde, and battone hym;
And cause he fryghted them so muche before,
Lyke cowart hyndes, they battone hym the more.

So whan they sawe ap Tewdore was bereft
Of his keen swerde, that wroghte thilke great dismaie,
They turned about, eftsoons upon hym lept,
And full a score engaged in the fraie.
Mervyn ap Tewdore, ragyng as a bear,
Seiz'd on the beaver of the Sier de Laque;
And wring'd his hedde with such a vehement gier,
His visage was turned round unto his back.
Back to his harte retyr'd the useless gore,
And felle upon the pleine to rise no more.

Then on the mightie Siere Fitz Pierce he flew,
And broke his helm and seiz'd hym bie the throte:
Then manie Norman knyghtes their arrowes drew,
That enter'd into Mervyn's harte, God wote.
In dying panges he gryp'd his throte more stronge,
And from their sockets started out his eyes;
And from his mouthe came out his blameless tonge;
And both in peyne nad anguishe eftsoon dies.
As some rude rocke torne from his bed of claie,
Stretch'd onn the pleyne the brave ap Tewdore laie.

And now Erle Ethelbert and Egward came
Brave Mervyn from the Normannes to assist;
A myghtie siere, Fitz Chatulet bie name,
An arrowe drew, that dyd them littel list.
Erle Egward points his launce at Chatulet,
And Ethelbert at Walleris set his;
And Egward dyd the siere a hard blowe hytt,
But Ethelbert by a myschaunce dyd miss:
Fear laid Walleris flat upon the strande,
He ne deserved a death from erlies hande.

Betwyxt hte ribbes of Sire Fitz Chatulet
The poynted launce of Egwad did ypass;
The distaunt syde thereof was ruddie wet,
And he fell breathless on the bloudie grass.
As cowart Walleris laie on the grounde,
The dreaded weapon hummed oer his heade,
And hytt the squier thylke a lethal wounde,
Upon his fallen lorde he tumbled dead:
Oh shame to Norman armes! a lord a slave,
A captyve villeyn than a lorde more brave!

From Chatelet hys launce Erle Egward drew,
And hit Wallerie on the dexter cheek;
Peerc'd to his braine, and cut his tongue in two:
There, knyght, quod he, let that thy actions speak--
****************************************************

No. 2

Oh Truth! immortal daughter of the skies,
Too lyttle known to wryters of these daies,
Teach me, fayre Saincte! thy passynge worthe to pryze,
To blame a friend and give a woeman prayse.
The fickle moone, bedeckt wythe sylver rays,
Leadynge a traine of starres of feeble lyghte,
With look adigne the worlde belowe surveies,
The world, that wotted not it could be nyghte;
Wyth armour dyd, with human gore ydeyd,
She sees Kynge Harolde stande, fayre Englands curse and pryde.

With ale and vernage drunk his souldiers lay;
Here was an hynde, anie erlie spredde;
Sad keepynge of their leaders natal daie!
This even in drinke, toomorrow with the dead!
Thro' everie troope disorder reer'd her hedde;
Dancynge and heideignes was the onlie theme;
Sad dome was theires, who lefte this easie bedde,
And wak'd in torments from so sweet a dream.
Duke Williams menne, of comeling dethe afraide,
All nyghte to the great Godde for succour askd and praied.

Thus Harolde to his wites that stoode around;
Goe, Gyrthe and Eilward, take bills halfe a score,
And search how farre our foeman's campe doth bound;
Yourself have rede; I nede to saie no more.
My brother best belov'd of anie ore,
My Leoswinus, goe to everich wite,
Tell them to raunge the battel to the grore,
And waiten tyll I sende the hest for fyghte.
He saide; the loieaul broders lefte hte place,
Success and cheerfulness depicted on each face.

Slowelie brave Gyrthe and Eilwarde dyd advaunce,
And markd wyth care the armies dystant syde,
When the dyre clatterynge of the shielde and launce
Made them to be by Hugh Fitzhugh espyd.
He lyfted up his voice, and lowdlie cryd;
Like wolfs in wintere did the Normanne yell;
Girthe drew hys swerde, and cutte hys burled hyde;
The proto-slene manne of the fielde he felle;
Out streemd the bloude, and ran in smokynge curles,
Reflected bie the moone seemd rubies mixt wyth pearles.

A troope of Normannes from the mass-songe came,
Rousd from the praiers by the flotting crie;
Thoughe Girthe and Ailwardus perceevd the same,
Not once theie stoode abashd, or thoghte to flie.
He seizd and bill, to conquer or to die;
Fierce as a clevis from a rocke ytorne,
That makes a vallie wheresoe're it lie;
Fierce as a ryver burstynge from the borne;
So fiercelie Gyrthe hitte Fitz du Gore a blowe,
And on the verdaunt playne he layde the champy one lowe.

Tancarville thus; alle peace in Williams name;
Let none edraw his arcublaster bowe.
Girthe cas'd his weppone, as he hearde the same,
And vengynge Normannes staid the flyinge floe.
The fire wente onne; ye menne, what mean ye so
Thus unprovokde to courte a bloudie fyghte?
Quod Gyrthe; oure meanynge we ne care to showe,
Nor dread thy duke wyth all his men of myghte;
Here single onlie these to all thie crewe
Shall shewe what Englysh handes and heartes can doe.


This is part one of the poem. When I'm ready to delve into more knights getting their heads cut in two, I'll type up the rest and post it.

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