The Battle of Hastings (1066) is perhaps the most famous in Medieval Britain, if not Europe. This bloody day changed British history and had a profound impact on the development of the modern world. It led not only to a change of dynasty in England but also indirectly to the development of the English language, law, and political institutions, which have had an immense impact far beyond the British Isles.
The battle followed in the wake of the Normans, landing on the southern coast of England. After defeating a Viking invasion at Stamford Bridge in the north of England, King Harold II headed south to meet the invaders. The two sides met at Hastings in Sussex on the 16th of October 1066. The battle lasted all day and only ended with the death of Harold II. At Hastings, the Normans routed the Anglo-Saxons, and this allowed them to conquer and occupy England. The Battle of 1066 is so famous that many think they know what happened. This is not the case, and there are many myths about the battle that many people accept as historical facts.
In reality, the surviving accounts of the Battle of Hastings are all suspect. They were either written by Anglo-Saxon writers who hated the Normans as foreign overlords, or they were authored by Normans who had an interest in misrepresenting events. This article will disentangle fact from fiction and truth from myth about the Battle of Hastings.