The Battle for England

In the 1060s or 1070s there were fierce battles between Anglo-Saxons, Norwegians, Danes and Normans for the English throne.

Harold Godwinson of England had sat three weeks on the throne when the Norwegian King Harold Hardrada attacked him at Stamford Bridge and lost. In the meantime, William, Duke of Normandy, also prepared to attack England.

William landed on the 28thSeptember 1066 in Sussex in Southern England with a large fleet and army. On the 14th October, William of Normandy and Harold Godwinson of England fought the Battle of Hastings. William was victorious and in the following months he plundered and burned several towns in Southern England and took power. This is why he was given the name The Conqueror.

  • Describe how a political power struggle is fought today (for example the Presidential Election in the United States. Which means are employed now relative to the Viking Age?
  • Play the role-play The Battle for England which deals with the Battle of Hastings
  • Why did Harold Hardrada and William of Normandy believe they had a right to the English throne?
  • Investigate the family relationships between the main protagonists in the Battle for England – how important were family relationships?
  • The story is continued and is illustrated for example on the Bayeux Tapestry. You could ask the question: What could have happened if the Danes had been able to assemble enough troops to face William?
  • Evaluate the troops of the three main protagonists – how many weapons, archers etc.?
  • Evaluate evidence from the sources on the battle, including the Bayeux Tapestry. Who was responsible for them, and were they partial?
  • Investigate the consequences of William’s victory for the English royal family and the English people.
  • Investigate the political power struggle in the English earldoms in the 1060s – involve several sources in this and let the pupils search literature on the subject.
  • Make a war game based on the Battle of Hastings. (Use a computer or an ordinary game board and troops in different colours. The troops can include the main protagonists, standard bearers, warriors with various types of weapons and cavalry.)