Once Harold heard that William had invaded, he ordered his army to move south and he camped at the ridge at Battle Abbey, intending to wait for reinforcements. William, however, took the initiative and took the battle to Harold, even though he was at a disadvantage as he would have to fight uphill against Harold's forces.
Invincible Saxon Shield WallEdit
Harold ordered his men to lock shields, a tactic he uses often. The idea was that the interlocking shields couldwithstand the onslaught of the opposition, eventually tiring them out. William then first orered his archers to fire, but because the Saxons were uphill the arrows either thudded into shields or flew harmlessly over their heads, so William had no choice
but to charge the wall. Despite his best efforts, the Saxon shield wall remained steady and no obvious chinks appeared. He then ordered his cavalry to charge, but the Saxons pointed our spears and swords out from the shield wall and the horses shied away from this resulting in many casualties.
The Bretons FleeingEdit
After long hours of deadlocked combat, the Bretons on William's side suddenly turned and ran. The Norman and Flemish parts of the army also fleed. Unable to resist the promise of riches and treasure, many Saxons broke rank and chased the fleeing soldiers. It was then that they found themselves in a marshy, swampy area, in which they were surrounded. Despite their efforts, they were ultimately massacred by the ambushing
Normans. This hit-and-run continued for quite a while, but William needed a definite victory before nightfall which was when reinforcements for the Saxons would arrive. Now a temporary lull fell over the battlefield as both armies re-formed.
The Final PushEdit
William made a decision and ordered his archers to fire upwards, over the Saxon shield wall. This was immensely successful now that the arrows fell on the unprotected head of the Saxons. So William decided to make a charge one last time, since the English were now heavily weakened. The charge was successful. Slowly, the Normans began to make chinks in the shield wall, and the English were now demoralized because King Harold was hit in the eye with an arrow. Many Enlgish fled, but the loyal Huscarls kept their oath and fought to the death.
William then pushed on forward to London, where he was crowned king of England on Christmas day.