The Last Invasion of England

If there’s a single date that sears itself into every English schoolchild's brain, it's 1066, the year of the most famous battle in the country's history. The scrap in question was the Battle of Hastings, which began when King Harold's army arrived in a field near what is now the village of Battle on 14 October and created a three-ringed defence consisting of archers, cavalry and massed infantry at the rear. Invading French duke William of Normandy, aka William the Conqueror, marched north from Hastings and took up a position about 400m south of the English. He tried repeatedly to break the cordon, but Harold’s men held fast. William's knights then feigned retreat, drawing some of Harold’s troops after them. It was a fatal mistake. Seeing the gap in the English wall, William ordered his remaining troops to charge through, and the battle was as good as won. Among the English casualties was King Harold who, as tradition has it, was hit in the eye by an arrow and struck down by Norman knights as he tried to pull it out. At news of his death, the last English resistance collapsed.