While William was preparing his fleet, Harold was facing new enemies in his country. His brother Tosig and King Hardrada from Norway were fighting to get the English crown. So, while Harold was engaged in this battle, William landed on the south coast. Harold defeated Tosig and Hardrada near London. But his great enemy was William with his 777 ships, 4000 foot soldiers and knights. Harold’s man covered two hundred miles in four days to meet the Normans at Hastings.
William’s army was made of 3 groups: the Bretons on the left, the French and the Belgian on the right and the Normans in the centre.
The sound of horns and trumpets marked the beginning of the battle. Harold had an advantage because his men were on the hill and soon the Normans remained without arrows. The Norman infantry (soldiers on foot) went closer so the English had to put their shields together to push them back.
At that moment the British heard a cry: “William is dead”. The soldiers were frightened and began to retreat. It was impossible to win without their leader. The English troops thought that the victory was on their side and started running down the hill ignoring Harold’s shout to stop. Harold was right. William was alive and ready to lead his troops against the English.
The Normans killed violently Harold’s soldiers under their king’s eyes. William’s archers launched a second attack to the English shield wall still intact. But they shot high in the air and a shower of arrows rained on the British heads. They were unprofessional soldiers who fell to the Norman swords. We do not know exactly about Harold’s death: probably an arrow stroke his face, but the final blow was due to a soldier on horse, a knight. William’s hatred towards Harold did not permit a burial proper to a king. His corpse was mutilated and then buried on the beach under stones. The English soldiers’ end was not better: some died, other ran away pursued by the Normans till night. On Christmas day 1066 William the Conqueror became king of England in the great new Abbey of Westminster.
knights = cavalieri
sound: noise (suono)
push them back: make them go back (spingerli indietro)
frightened: scared (speventati)
retreat: go back (ritirarsi)
fell to the Norman swords= were defeted (caddero sotto le spade Normanne)
due to: caused (a causa di)
hatred: hate (odio)
burial: funeral (sepoltura)
pursued: followed, chased (perseguitarono)