The Normans - Harald Hardrada & Stamford Bridge
Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, like William of Normandy, believed that the English throne should be his, not Harold Godwineson's.
Background to Hardrada's claim:
Edward the Confessor, who had died childless in January 1066, had seized the English throne back from the Norwegian Harthacnut in 1042. Harthacnut was the son of the Viking King Cnut who had ruled England from 1016 - 1035.
Hardrada claimed that Harthacnut had promised the English throne to King Magnus of Norway. Magnus was an old King and had chosen not fight Edward the Confessor for the throne.
Harald Hardrada succeeded King Magnus to the throne of Norway and when Edward the Confessor died he decided to take the English throne for himself.
Hardrada began planning his invasion.
September 20th 1066 - Battle of Fulford
Harald Hardrada, with a fleet of more than 300 ships, and the support of Harold Godwineson's brother Tostig, sailed up the river Humber and landed just south of York.
Two powerful Earls in the north, Edwin and Morcar, hurriedly mustered an army.
They were heavily beaten by the invaders.
Harold Godwineson's Problem
Harold Godwineson knew that if Hardrada were to be defeated he had to take his army north to fight him off.
However, Harold was also aware that William of Normandy's invasion force was ready and would sail as soon as the wind changed. If he marched north he would have to leave the south coast unprotected and his army would be forced to march hundreds of miles north, fight a battle, then march back to the south coast and the possibility of another battle.
25th September 1066 - Battle of Stamford Bridge
Godwineson decided to march north and fight off the Norwegians. He believed that he could reach the north, defeat the Norwegians and return back south before the wind changed.
After a rapid march north, Godwineson's army caught the Norwegians by surprise at Stamford Bridge. The result was a firm victory for the English.
Both Harald and Godwineson's brother, Tostig were dead as were hundreds of Norwegian soldiers.
Godwineson ordered a huge banquet to be held at York to celebrate the victory.
However, the celebrations were cut short when news reached Godwineson that William of Normandy had landed on the South Coast.
The Neo-Assyrian Empire used earthen ramps, siege towers and battering rams in sieges; the Greeks and Alexander the Great created destructive new engines known as artillery to further their sieges, and the Romans used every technique to perfection. That is to say, the Romans were not inventors, but they were superb engineers and disciplined, tough soldiers who fought against great odds and won, repeatedly.... Read More
Demetrius I, King of Macedon, invented many siege engines including battering rams and siege towers. For the Siege of Rhodes, he created the Helepolis, the Taker of Cities, a huge armored siege tower containing many heavy catapults.
The island city of Rhodes maintained its neutrality among the warring nations of the time, although it remained friendly to Ptolemy I of Egypt, the enemy of Demetrius of... Read More
In the first part of this series, we noted the siege equipment of the Assyrians consisted of complex battering rams, earthen ramps and a dedicated corps of engineers and sappers. Alexander the Great and the Greeks would take the next steps in the evolution of siege warfare. The Greeks had invented the catapult circa 399 B.C. Alexander innovated by fastening catapults and ballistas on the decks of ships to breach... Read More
While sieges had taken place earlier than the Neo-Assyrian Empire, such as that between Egyptian Pharoah Thutmose III and Canaanite rebels led by Kadesh at the Megiddo fortress in the 15th century B.C., the Assyrians perfected the art of siege warfare during the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 911 to 609 B.C.
Through war and conquest, Assyria became the most powerful empire the world had yet seen. After the... Read More
For one thousand years, chariots rolled through the Middle East, terrifying armies, destroying infantry lines and changing the face of war. Sumerians used heavy battlewagons with solid wheels drawn by wild asses around 2600 B.C. Until the innovation of spoked wheels, the weight of the battlewagons hindered their utility in war. The domestication of the horse inspired further chariot innovation as horses... Read More