1066:Battle of Stamford Bridge fought near York

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Today the battle of Stamford Bridge was fought in the North of England between the new King of England, Harold II and the King of Norway, Harald Hardrada. The Norwegian King had hoped to claim England for himself and even had the English King’s brother, Tostig, on his side.
    It was not to be. The Vikings were caught by surprise, not expecting to fight the English today. Most had come ashore unarmoured, as it was a warm September day. Half of their army was West of the river Derwent and died on that side. It is reported that a giant of a Viking held up the English over the narrow bridge that spanned the river, buying time for the other half of his army to form  a shield wall( a defensive disposition). He is reputed to have killed 40 Englishmen, before one man decided to swim under the bridge and wound him by driving a spear up from below.
    The Norwegians defended better once they had their Shieldwall working, but the English were too many. Not even a late incursion by the party left behind to guard the ships could tip the balance. Both Hardrada and Tostig were killed along with a probable 6000 other Vikings.
    Harold could not rest on his laurels as he soon learnt William, Duke of Normandy, had landed to claim the throne too.
    He was 200 miles South. The next battle, fought 20 days after this one, was Harold’s last.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Yes, Harold II was in the difficult position of facing what amounted to two simultaneous invasions at widely separated points of his territory.  Not only did this multiply the size of the forces he had to fight off, it also required him to march his troops up to Stamford Bridge then down to Hastings, which meant that his men were already tired by the time the faced William’s army.  If I recall correctly, there was also a problem related to how often (or for how long a period of service) he was allowed to call up his fyrdmen (basically, citizen militia) within a set period of time, so he may not have been at full strength at Hastings.  His housecarls (basically his professional soldiers) didn’t operate under these service restrictions and were higher-quality troops than the fyrd, but there were fewer of them.

    I visited Hastings several years ago, though I didn’t get to spend as much time there as I would have liked.  But I still have some nice historical booklets that I picked up there.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    I greatly enjoyed Battle too. I went two years ago.

    I cannot remember why he marched North first, unless it was because he had understood William would not be able to cross the Channel as early as he did.
    I think a lot of it was to do with his brother’s defection to Harald. He tried to win him back, but he refused and died at Stamford Bridge.

    I must reread 1066, by Frank McLynn. It was an excellent read.
    Have just had a quick flick through it and saw Harold only took the loyal and elite Housecarls South to meet William after he learned he had landed. He left the Fyrds in the North, as the army was exhausted from the victory. He would use the men he had left in the South.
    The book says Harold made two mistakes after the battle. One was not to share the spoils with his men and the second was to trust his Northumbrian Lords to follow him South.

  • 2020 '19 '18 '17

    I think Harold marched North first simply because Harald and his army were first to arrive in England. And they were first because the same wind that carried their ships southward from Norway to England, stopped William from sailing northward from Normandy. Which leaves us with an intriguing question:

    It was a near-run thing. The Saxons nearly won. If the wind had blown in the other direction, William’s delayed invasion would have landed before Harald’s and Harold’s undiminished army might have beaten William. But would he have beaten Harald as well?

    And that quote…. is from the rulebook of my 1988 copy of the wonderful board game Britannia.  🙂

    I think it was a mistake on Harold’s part to march South in such a rush. If he would have stopped in London and given his army some time to recover, William would have had very little choice but to fight the Saxons anyway, because Hastings is not a good place to conquer England from when your enemy is based in London. It was different with Harald, who had a powerful local ally and could have taken the entire North if not confronted.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Interesting thought about the wind blowing the other way, Herr KaLeun.

    You are right in saying Harold erred in rushing South. It was a great victory won at Stamford Bridge and secured England against any further Nordic invasions for a least a generation.
    He had time to sit and await William in London as time meant reinforcements. William could expect no further aid.

    I wonder if he rushed because he firmly believed he had to crush him quickly, as he may have believed William had right on his side after breaking his word about the succession. The Pope had backed William too!
    He had gone North as he distrusted the Northern Earl’s two sons and in  that he was proven right.


  • Thank you for the great post.

  • 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Thank you Wittmann for your posts, I enjoy reading them, sometimes.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    What do you mean: sometimes?
    I am greatly offended. I think I shall take to my bed and will not be receiving visitors!
    Lunch as usual though.


  • When I was in France I visited Bayeux and saw the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting that 2nd thing you refer to. I could not believe how long it was and everything that was on it.  It’s not as old as that battle, but still pretty old.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    It is stupidly long. Comes as a shock when you first see it.
    I think it was done 20 years afterwards.

    Did you see the D-Day Museum? I think it is the one with the Hetzer outside. Were you able to spend a few days there looking at the beaches?
    I have been 3 or 4 times and lived  8 months at Langrune Sur Mer ( in between Sword and Juno) when I was a student at Caen University.


  • @wittmann:

    It is stupidly long. Comes as a shock when you first see it.
    I think it was done 20 years afterwards.

    Did you see the D-Day Museum? I think it is the one with the Hetzer outside. Were you able to spend a few days there looking at the beaches?
    I have been 3 or 4 times and lived  8 months at Langrune Sur Mer ( in between Sword and Juno) when I was a student at Caen University.

    It’s a nice setup they’ve got to view it though - headphones with different languages for international visitors.  I wanted to go back through and listen to it in Spanish or something.  :lol:  Bayeux is pretty nice (the whole area, really), and now I’m craving some Calvados.

    It was a day trip from Paris, so not enough time to see much.  Main stop was at the American Cemetery, but didn’t have a chance to walk by the beach.  We drove by the Les Braves (I think it’s called?) monument as well.  I’m certainly due a repeat visit to see all that I wanted to see.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    I don’t remember Les Braves monument, but  then I do not remember much any more.
    I loved the Department Calvados and fell in love with its corked cider and Calva. We are lucky enough to have it for sale in a supermarket. I buy a 10 year old version in a half litre bottle. It costs about £18, so is not too dear.


  • @wittmann:

    I don’t remember Les Braves monument, but  then I do not remember much any more.
    I loved the Department Calvados and fell in love with its corked cider and Calva. We are lucky enough to have it for sale in a supermarket. I buy a 10 year old version in a half litre bottle. It costs about �18, so is not too dear.

    Here’s what it looks like.  It’s at Omaha beach, so not exactly where you were, but maybe you went by it at some point.  Pretty interesting to see against the rustic views of the towns, houses, and environment.

    I need to find some Calvados from somewhere, last I looked, there was none in my area.  I made the one bottle I bought and brought back last over a year, and it was reasonably priced.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Thank you. I think I would have remembered that, so suspect I missed it somehow.
    I have been to Omaha three times and visited your Cemetery and monument. Last time I searched out the spot Wittmann died and his gravestone.
    I will always go back go Normandy, as the landings and breakout have always interested me. I like the people and the countryside is very much like Southern England. And you know I have said I like the food and drink.
    We had planned to go last May, then went for the cheaper option of London.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    I didn’t know that Cromwell.
    The South were his family’s lands, so I suppose he would have felt the urge to protect them and its people.
    All we can say, is that he should not have rushed. But then we weren’t there.
    He almost won the battle( on the 14th October).
    Think I posted about Hastings last year, so will not repeat!

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