The Norman army

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The Norman army

Post by DIESEL on Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:33 am

The Norman army was estimated to be as high as 8,400 strong and consisted of, at the most, 2,200 cavalry, 4,500 infantry and 1,700 missile troops (archers and crossbowmen). William's strategy relied on archers to soften the enemy, followed by a general advance of the infantry and then a cavalry charge. The Norman army was made up of nobles, mercenaries, and troops from France to as far as southern Italy.

The Norman army's power derived from its cavalry which were reckoned amongst the best in Europe. They were heavily armoured, and usually had a lance and a sword. As with all cavalry, they were generally at their most effective against troops whose formation had begun to break up.

Apart from the missile troops, the Norman infantry were probably protected by chain mail and armed with spear, sword and shield, like their English counterparts.

The inclusion of large numbers of missile troops in William's army reflected the trend in other European armies for composite forces who combined on the battlefield. The bow was a relatively short weapon with a short draw, but was effective on the battlefield at this time. Hastings also marks the first known use of the crossbow in English history.
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