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Actions Shares. Embeds 0 No embeds. Either way, Harald was determined to go on with his plans and, by the summer of , his fleet was stationed at the Solund, the westernmost tip of Norway. The only thing left to do was wait for a favourable wind to sail to across the English Channel.
Battle of Hastings
Meanwhile, in England, King Harold and the Fyrd remained along the south coast, anticipating the Norman arrival. But with both fleets ready, would it be the Normans who landed first, or would Harold be called to fight his brother and the Norwegians? On 8 September, after months of waiting, King Harold was forced to disband the Fyrd.
No doubt the men were anxious to get back home and attend their fields, with the harvest just around the corner. There was every reason to believe that it was now too late in the year for the Normans to successfully sail to England. Autumn was well known for its hazardous gales, and perhaps they assumed that changing weather conditions could keep England safe until the spring.
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Little did they know what lay in the north of the kingdom. He stopped briefly at Shetland and Orkney to pick up reinforcements, and with his ships, headed south to England. After landing at Northumbria, Harald met up with his ally, Tostig, and the pair began ravaging the area, burning Scarborough to the ground. Tostig and the Norwegians had announced their arrival. Harold was in his home town of Bosham when he was informed of the trouble in the north. Harold immediately called on his housecarls, the elite warriors of his army, and marched to London.
Within days of his arrival, Harold was informed of the attack on Scarborough. Without hesitation, he summoned the Fyrd and began the march north. On the same day that Harold left London, the Norwegians sailed up the Humber and prepared to enter the city of York. Since hearing of the burning of Scarborough, the earls Edwin and Morcar had gathered as many men as they could and advanced to York. On 20 September, they marched out to fight the enemy, meeting at Fulford, one mile outside the city gates.
History has not preserved many of the details of this battle. We know that the land was about a quarter of a mile across, with a river to the west and a dyke to the east. Both armies were assembled in a line and facing each other, with the strongest men of each army grouped together near the river bank. When King Harald saw his men running away, he sounded the horn and displayed his white battle standard, known as the Land Ravager. This passionate show fired up the Norwegian army and they mounted a frenzied counterattack on the English.
Some were able to break free and escape along the river; many others were not so lucky. The battle had lasted only an hour but the Norwegian victory was decisive. With nobody to stop them, the Norwegians marched to York and took the city. The inhabitants had no option but to surrender.
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For reasons unknown, King Harald and Tostig did not enter the city again. Perhaps they believed that Fulford was enough to conquer the north and that the only thing left to do was head south.
In the meantime, Harald continued to demand more hostages, this time from all over Yorkshire, and the English promised to fetch him men. Add a library card to your account to borrow titles, place holds, and add titles to your wish list. Have a card?
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