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Post by DIESEL on Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:32 am

Harold Godwinson belonged to the most powerful family in England; he claimed the throne of England for himself in January 1066, soon after Edward the Confessor died. He secured the support of the Witenagemot for his accession. Some sources say that while Edward had promised the throne to his cousin William, on his deathbed he decided to confer it to Harold instead. Edward the Confessor had a nephew though, but he couldn't become king because he was too young to protect himself, let alone a country.

Duke William of Normandy held fast to his claim to the throne. He took Harold's crowning as a declaration of war. William had been establishing policy in England for over 15 years, and was not ready to give up his position so easily. He planned to invade England, and take the crown for himself. The initial difficulty was that the Norman army was not powerful enough, so nobles as far as Southern Italy were called to convene at Caen, in Normandy. There, William promised land and titles to his followers and that the voyage was secured by the Pope himself. William assembled a fleet of around 700 ships - a staggering logistical feat - and sailed for England.

On 28 September 1066, William, after being delayed by a storm in the English Channel, asserted his claim to the English crown by military force, landing unopposed at a marshy, tidal inlet at Bulverhythe, currently part of western Hastings.[citation needed] The beachhead is within 2 miles of the Senlac battlefield, is sheltered, and has access to high ground, whilst Pevensey, which had long been held to be the Duke's landing place, is marsh-bound—presenting problems for landing troops, horses and stores, and remote from the road to London.

Upon hearing the news of the landing of the Duke's forces, the English King, Harold II, who had just annihilated an invading Norwegian Viking army under King Harald Hardråda and Tostig Godwinson (Harold's brother) at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, near York, hurried southward to meet the invaders. His brother, Earl Gyrth urged a delay while more men could be assembled, but Harold was determined to show his people that he could defend his new kingdom decisively against every invader. He departed London on the morning of 12 October, gathering what available forces he could on the way. After camping at Long Bennington, he arrived at Senlac Hill the night of 13 October.

Harold deployed his force, astride the road from Hastings to London, on Senlac Hill some 6 miles inland north-west of Hastings. Behind him was the great forest of Anderida (the Weald), and in front, the ground fell away in a long glacis-like slope, which at the bottom rose again as the opposing slope of Telham Hill.
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