Norman Soldiers March into Battle

The Story of 1066

with illustrations by Matthew Ryan

Instructions

  • NAVIGATE: When each scene ends, click the 'Next' button to move on to the next chapter. Click 'Previous' to return to anything you missed or want to see again.
  • COLLECT: There are 10 hidden items to collect throughout this story. Once you think you've spotted one, select it to add it to your bag. You can click on your bag at any time to see how many you have left to collect.
  • QUIZ: Once you've finished scrolling through the events of 1066, and you have discovered all of the collectibles, you can test your knowledge with our quiz. Will you be an Saxon Farmer? Or perhaps a Chronicler? Or will you conquer all as William, Duke of Normandy himself?

Please note: The Story of 1066 animation is not designed for small mobile devices. For the best experience, use your computer, laptop or tablet.

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II
Congratulations, You Found the Crown
Evening, 5 January 1066 - King Edward the Confessor has died. His body lies in Westminster Abbey, waiting for burial.
Meanwhile, the most powerful men and women in Anglo-Saxon England gather in London to debate who will be the best person to rule the country and its people.
Next >
Will Harold Godwinson, the most powerful man in England, seize the crown instead?
Will it be Duke William of Normandy, chosen as his successor years ago?
Or will the Vikings invade again and conquer England?
Horay you collected something
It's the first day of the year 1066, and everyone in Anglo-Saxon England is worried. King Edward the Confessor is dying and doesn’t have an heir, so nobody knows who will rule the country after him.
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Meanwhile, the most powerful men and women in Anglo-Saxon England gather in London to debate who will be the best person to rule the country and its people.
6, January 1066 - King Edward is buried in Westminster Abbey. Only a few hours later Harold Godwinson is crowned King of England there.
The Pope even sends William a holy banner to carry in battle. Now William will not only be the rightful King of England, but also a kind of crusader.
To convince them it’s a good plan, William gets a blessing from the Pope by telling him that Harold has broken a sacred oath, and that the English Church is in a bad state. William will put all that right when he takes over.
To do this he's going to need support. He'll have to persuade his Norman knights and nobles to risk the dangerous invasion of England.
He believes that King Edward promised him the throne in 1051 and even swore on holy relics to confirm it. William sends a message of protest to Harold but knows he'll have to fight for the English crown.
It's a few days after Harold's coronation. In Normandy, Duke William hears the news. He's very angry.
It's the end of April 1066. Halley's Comet is at its brightest, shining brighter than the full moon. Everyone in Anglo-Saxon England can see it, and everyone knows that these 'long-haired stars' are warnings of disaster.
Congratulations, You Found the Comet
King Edward's widow, Queen Edith, looks up at the sky - she feels that something significant is about to happen. But what?
Harald Hardrada, Viking Invader
Westminster
Harold Godwinson, King of England
Duke William of Normandy
Dives-Sur-Mer
...He’s ordered all his nobles to build their share of the fleet. It won’t be ready until August though, so in the meantime, William gets busy organising his army.
Congratulations, You Found the WINE BARREL
Summer 1066. In Normandy, William has calculated that he will need over 700 ships to transport his army to England...
Riccall
Tadcaster
scarborough
York
20 September 1066. Hardrada defeats the Anglo-Saxon army at Fulford, near York.
21-24 September 1066. York surrenders and agrees to send an army to join Hardrada's conquest of England. Hardrada moves to Stamford Bridge to await Saxon hostages.
18 September 1066. Hardrada sails up the river Ouse and moors ships at Riccall.
Stamford Bridge
19 or 20 September. King Harold hears of Hardrada's landing and marches north day and night to meet him.
Fulford
24 September, evening. King Harold's army reaches Tadcaster. It has covered approximately 200 miles in five or six days!
25 September. King Harold marches to Stamford Bridge, surprises Hardrada and UTTERLY defeats him. Hardrada is killed along with most of his army. 300 ships brought the Vikings to England; just 24 ships were enough to take the few survivors home.
16 September 1066 - Harald Hardrada, with about 300 ships, raids Scarborough. According to legend, he lights a huge fire on the site of (later) Scarborough Castle, and pitchforks blazing timber down on the town to burn the houses.
Meanwhile in Normandy....
Sailing in the dark is risky, so William has a big lantern lit on the mast of his own ship, the 'Mora'. He'll lead the way, and the rest of his ships will follow the lantern.
27 September, 1066 - Normandy. The wind that has trapped William’s fleet in port for weeks suddenly changes direction meaning he can now set sail for England.
By the time he's got all his men, horses and supplies aboard, it's nightfall.
Congratulations, You Found the Figurehead
Night time, 27th September, 1066 –English Channel, William's 700 ships are making the crossing to England. Some are 'long ships' mainly carrying soldiers, while other smaller ships carry horses and supplies.
They look like Viking ships, with carved figureheads of dragons or fabulous beasts: the Vikings were the most successful seamen of the time, and everyone copied the design of their ships. Plus the Normans were descended from Vikings.
Congratulations, You Found a Norman Shield
William still leads on his own ship, the 'Mora'. It is the biggest and fastest in the fleet, a present from his wife, Matilda of Flanders.
At the stern is a carved golden figure of a child, blowing an ivory horn and pointing a lance towards England.
Early morning, 28 September, 1066 - Norman ships are approaching to land on the English coast at Pevensey in Sussex.
The Norman fleet is approaching the English coast and getting ready to land at Pevensey in Sussex.
Hastings
1 October, 1066 - Hastings. William has moved his army and ships from Pevensey to the safer harbour at Hastings. He needs to keep close to his ships in case he needs to escape. His soldiers are currently plundering, burning And killing in the surrounding lands.
Pevensey
Plundering will bring in much-needed supplies and should also tempt King Harold to come and help his people as soon as possible. William wants a quick battle so the Saxons don’t have time to gather a huge army, which might overwhelm him.
Congratulations, You Found the House
At the same time, the Normans are learning about the landscape arouND Hastings; this knowledge will be vital if a battle happens there.
Meanwhile, King Harold's victorious but exhausted army begins hurrying south from Yorkshire....
The battle begins. As the Normans climb the hill towards them, the Saxons lock their shields together into a 'shield wall'. This is their traditional way of defending themselves. It will be very hard for the Normans to break through it.
Congratulations, You Found a Saxon Shield
The Norman bowmen shoot showers of arrows at the shield wall. They're shooting uphill, and many of their arrows are caught on the Saxon shields. Some Saxons are killed, but they're so closely packed together that there's hardly room for their bodies to fall. The shield wall is unshaken.
Now the heavily armed Norman foot-soldiers move to attack the Saxon shield wall. It’s hand to hand combat and the fighting is fierce. Shields clash, axes deal deadly blows, and swords and spears thrust in and out of the shield wall. But still the Normans can't break through.
Panic spreads through the Norman army, and it's even rumoured that William has been killed. As more Normans flee, some Saxons run out from the shield wall to chase them down the hill.
Congratulations, You Found the AXE
But William takes off his helmet to show his face and prove he's alive. He orders the Norman knights turn on the Saxons, cutting them down before they can get back to the shield wall.
The first panic was real, but the Normans now realise that pretending to run away will lure the Saxons out of their shield wall. So they pretend to run away twice, and twice some Saxons chase them, only to be caught and killed when the Norman knights turn around and charge.
The Saxon shield wall still holds, but with the loss of these soldiers it's getting weaker.
After many hours of hard fighting, William combines his archers and knights in one last effort. His bowmen shoot high, dropping arrowS onto the heads of the Saxons. With the Saxons still dealing with this change in tactic, the Norman knights charge straight in at their weakened shield wall. This time they finally break through.
Congratulations, You Found the Banner
King Harold is killed, and the leaderless Saxons start to flee. Those who try to resist are cut down. As dusk falls, William and his Normans have won a great victory.
Congratulations, You Found the Raven
Next morning, King Harold's body is found on the battlefield. His face has been so badly hacked about that only his mother can identify his body by 'a secret sign', perhaps a hidden birthmark.
Some chroniclers of the time say that Harold's mother offered William the body's weight in gold if he would allow her to bury it. William refused, and mockingly had Harold buried by the seashore he'd failed to guard. But what really happened to the last Saxon king's body still remains a mystery....
Christmas Day 1066 - William is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey. During the ten weeks since the Battle of Hastings, he has marched through south-east England and forced all the powerful men there to agree to support him.
The battle may be over but for William and his men, the real conquest of Anglo-Saxon England is just beginning. Will they have what it takes to conquer England?
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