Saxon Chronicles

From Historical Hastings Wiki

From The Saxon Chronicles, the following excerpts provide some history of the town immediately around the period of the Norman Invasion;


This year sent the king and his council to the army, and desired peace; promising them both tribute and provisions, on condition that they ceased from plunder. They had now overrun East-Anglia , and Essex , and Middlesex, and Oxfordshire, and Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire, and Buckinghamshire, and Bedfordshire, and half of Huntingdonshire, and much of Northamptonshire; and, to the south of the Thames, all Kent, and Sussex, and Hastings, and Surrey, and Berkshire, and Hampshire, and much of Wiltshire. All these disasters befel us through bad counsels; that they would not offer tribute in time, or fight with them; but, when they had done most mischief, then entered they into peace and amity with them. And not the less for all this peace, and amity, and tribute, they went everywhere in troops; plundering, and spoiling, and slaying our miserable people. In this year, between the Nativity of St. Mary and Michaelmas, they beset Canterbury, and entered therein through treachery; for Elfmar delivered the city to them, whose life Archbishop Elfeah formerly saved. And there they seized Archbishop Elfeah, and Elfward the king's steward, and Abbess Leofruna, and Bishop Godwin; and Abbot Elfmar they suffered to go away. And they took therein all the men, and husbands, and wives; and it was impossible for any man to say how many they were; and in the city they continued afterwards as long as they would. And, when they had surveyed all the city, they then returned to their ships, and led the archbishop with them[1].


This year the emperor gathered an innumerable army against Baldwin of Bruges, because he had destroyed the palace of Nimeguen, and because of many other ungracious acts that he did against him. The army was immense that he had collected together. There was Leo, the Pope of Rome, and the patriarch, and many other great men of several provinces. He sent also to King Edward, and requested of him naval aid, that he might not permit him to escape from him by water. Whereupon he went to Sandwich, and lay there with a large naval armament, until the emperor had all that he wished of Baldwin. Thither also came back again Earl Sweyne, who had gone from this land to Denmark, and there ruined his cause with the Danes. He came hither with a pretence, saying that he would again submit to the king, and be his man; and he requested Earl Beorn to be of assistance to him, and give him land to feed him on. But Harold, his brother, and Earl Beorn resisted, and would give him nothing of that which the king had given them. The king also refused him everything. Whereupon Swevne retired to his ships at Bosham. Then, after the settlement between the emperor and Baldwin, many ships went home, and the king remained behind Sandwich with a few ships. Earl Godwin also sailed forty-two ships from Sandwich to Pevensey, and Earl Beorn went with him. Then the king gave leave to all the Mercians to return home, and they did so. Then it was told the king that Osgod lay at Ulps with thirty-nine ships; whereupon the king sent after the ships that he might dispatch, which before had gone homewards, but still lay at the Nore. Then Osgod fetched his wife from Bruges; and they went back again with six ships; but the rest went towards Essex, to Eadulf's-ness, and there plundered, and then returned to their ships[1].

But there came upon them a strong wind, so that they were all lost but four persons, who were afterwards slain beyond sea. Whilst Earl Godwin and Earl Beorn lay at Pevensey with their ships, came Earl Sweyne, and with a pretence requested of Earl Beorn, who was his uncle's son, that he would be his companion to the king at Sandwich, and better his condition with him; adding, that he would swear oaths to him, and be faithful to him. Whereupon Beorn concluded, that he would not for their relationship betray him. He therefore took three companions with him, and they rode to Bosham, where his ships lay, as though they should proceed to Sandwich; but they suddenly bound him, and led him to the ships, and went thence with him to Dartmouth, where they ordered him to be slain and buried deep. He was afterwards found, and Harold his cousin fetched him thence, and led him to Winchester, to the old minster, where he buried him with King Knute, his uncle. Then the king and all the army proclaimed Sweyne an outlaw. A little before this the men of Hastings and thereabout fought his two ships with their ships, and slew all the men, and brought the ships to Sandwich to the king. Eight ships had he, ere he betrayed Beorn; afterwards they all forsook him except two; whereupon he went eastward to the land of Baldwin, and sat there all the winter at Bruges, in full security[1].

In the same year came up from Ireland thirty-six ships on the Welsh coast, and thereabout committed outrages, with the aid of Griffin, the Welsh king. The people were soon gathered against them, and there was also with them Bishop Eldred, but they had too little assistance, and the enemy came unawares on them very early in the morning, and slew on the spot many good men; but the others burst forth with the bishop. This was done on the fourth day before the calends of August. This year died the good Bishop Ednoth in Oxfordshire; and Oswy, Abbot of Thomey; and Wulfnoth, Abbot of Westminster; and King Edward gave the bishopric which Ednoth had to Ulf his priest, but it ill betided him; and he was driven from it, because he did nought like a bishop therein, so that it shameth us now to say more. Bishop Siward also died who lies at Abingdon. In this same year King Edward put nine ships out of pay; and the crews departed, and went away with the ships withal, leaving five ships only behind, for whom the king ordered twelve months pay. The same year went Bishops Hereman and Aldred to the pope at Rome on the king's errand. This year was also consecrated the great minster at Rheims, in the presence of Pope Leo and the emperor. There was also a great synod at St. Remy; at which was present Pope Leo, with the Archbishops of Burgundy, of Besancon, of Treves, and of Rheims; and many wise men besides, both clergy and laity. A great synod there held they respecting the service of God, at the instance of St. Leo the pope. It is difficult to recognise all the bishops that came thither, and also abbots. King Edward sent thither Bishop Dudoc, and Abbot Wulfric, of St. Augustine's, and Elfwin, Abbot of Ramsey, with the intent that they should report to the king what was determined there concerning Christendom. This same year came Earl Sweyne into England[1].

((A.D. 1049. This year Sweyn came again to Denmark, and Harold. uncle of Magnus, went to Norway after Magnus was dead; and the Normans acknowledged him: and he sent hither to land concerning peace. And Sweyn also sent from Denmark, and begged of King Edward the aid of his ships. They were to be at least fifty ships: but all people opposed it. And this year also there was an earthquake, on the kalends of May, in many places in Worcester, and in Wick, and in Derby, and elsewhere; and also there was a great mortality among men, and murrain among cattle: and moreover, the wild-fire did much evil in Derbyshire and elsewhere[1].))


Thither also came Sweyn the earl, who before had gone from this land to Denmark, and who there had ruined himself with the Danes. He came thither with false pretences; saying that he would again be obedient to the king. And Beorn the earl promised him that he would be of assistance to him. Then, after the reconciliation of the emperor and of Baldwin, many of the ships went home, and the king remained behind at Sandwich with a few ships; and Godwin the earl also went with forty-two ships from Sandwich to Pevensey, and Beorn the earl went with him. Then was it made known to the king that Osgood lay at Ulps with thirty-nine ships; and the king then sent after the ships which before had gone home, that he might send after him. And Osgod fetched his wife from Bruges, and they went back again with six ships. And the others landed in Sussex [Essex] at Eadulf-ness, and there did harm, and went again to their ships: and then a strong wind came against them, so that they were all destroyed, except four, whose crews were slain beyond sea. While Godwin the earl and Beorn the earl lay at Pevensey, then came Sweyn the earl, and begged Beorn the earl, with fraud, who was his uncle's son, that he would be his companion to the king at Sandwich, and better his affairs with him. He went then, on account of the relationship, with three companions, with him; and he led him then towards Bosham, where his ships lay: and then they bound him, and led him on ship-board. Then went he thence with him to Dartmouth, and there ordered him to be slain, and deeply buried[1].

Afterwards he was found, and borne to Winchester, and buried with king Canute his uncle. A little before that, the men of Hastings and thereabout, fought two of his ships with their ships; and slew all the men, and brought the ships to Sandwich to the king. Eight ships he had before he betrayed Beorn; after that all forsook him except two. In the same year arrived in the Welsh Axa, from Ireland, thirty-six ships, and thereabout did harm, with the help of Griffin the Welsh king. The people were gathered together against them; Bishop Aldred [Of Worchester] was also there with them; but they had too little power. And they came unawares upon them at very early morn; and there they slew many good men, and the others escaped with the bishop: this was done on the fourth before the kalends of August. This year died, in Oxfordshire, Oswy, Abbot of Thorney, and Wulfnoth, Abbot of Westminster; and Ulf the priest was appointed as pastor to the bishopric which Eadnoth had held; but he was after that driven away; because he did nothing bishop-like therein: so that it shameth us now to tell more about it. And Bishop Siward died: he lieth at Abingdon. And this year was consecrated the great minster at Rheims: there was Pope Leo [IX.] and the emperor [Henry III]; and there they held a great synod concerning God's service. St. Leo the pope presided at the synod: it is difficult to have a knowledge of the bishops who came there, and how many abbots: and hence, from this land were sent two--from St. Augustine's and from Ramsey[1].


This year, on the second day before the nones of March, died the aged Lady Elfgiva Emma, the mother of King Edward and of King Hardacnute, the relict of King Ethelred and of King Knute; and her body lies in the old minster with King Knute. At this time Griffin, the Welsh king, plundered in Herefordshire till he came very nigh to Leominster; and they gathered against him both the landsmen and the Frenchmen from the castle; and there were slain very many good men of the English, and also of the French. This was on the same day thirteen years after that Edwin was slain with his companions. In the same year advised the king and his council, that ships should be sent out to Sandwich, and that Earl Ralph and Earl Odda should be appointed headmen thereto. Then went Earl Godwin out from Bruges with his ships to Ysendyck; and sailed forth one day before midsummer-eve, till he came to the Ness that is to the south of Romney. When it came to the knowledge of the earls out at Sandwich, they went out after the other ships; and a land-force was also ordered out against the ships[1].

Meanwhile Earl Godwin had warning, and betook himself into Pevensey: and the weather was so boisterous, that the earls could not learn what had become of Earl Godwin. But Earl Godwin then went out again until he came back to Bruges; and the other ships returned back again to Sandwich. Then it was advised that the ships should go back again to London, and that other earls and other pilots should be appointed over them. But it was delayed so long that the marine army all deserted; and they all betook themselves home. When Earl Godwin understood that, he drew up his sail and his ship: and they went west at once to the Isle of Wight; and landing there, they plundered so long that the people gave them as much as they required of them. Then proceeded they westward until they came to Portland, where they landed and did as much harm as they could possibly do. Meanwhile Harold had gone out from Ireland with nine ships, and came up at Potlock with his ships to the mouth of the Severn, near the boundaries of Somerset and Devonshire, and there plundered much. The land-folk collected against him, both from Somerset and from Devonshire: but he put them to flight, and slew there more than thirty good thanes, besides others; and went soon after about Penwithstert, where was much people gathered against him; but he spared not to provide himself with meat, and went up and slew on the spot a great number of the people--seizing in cattle, in men, and in money, whatever he could. Then went he eastward to his father; and they went both together eastward until they came to the Isle of Wight, where they seized whatever had been left them before[1].

Thence they went to Pevensey, and got out with them as many ships as had gone in there, and so proceeded forth till they came to the Ness; getting all the ships that were at Romney, and at Hithe, and at Folkstone. Then ordered King Edward to fit out forty smacks that lay at Sandwich many weeks, to watch Earl Godwin, who was at Bruges during the winter; but he nevertheless came hither first to land, so as to escape their notice. And whilst he abode in this land, he enticed to him all the Kentish men, and all the boatmen from Hastings, and everywhere thereabout by the sea-coast, and all the men of Essex and Sussex and Surrey, and many others besides. Then said they all that they would with him live or die. When the fleet that lay at Sandwich had intelligence about Godwin's expedition, they set sail after him; but he escaped them, and betook himself wherever he might: and the fleet returned to Sandwich, and so homeward to London. When Godwin understood that the fleet that lay at Sandwich was gone home, then went he back again to the Isle of Wight, and lay thereabout by the sea-coast so long that they came together--he and his son Earl Harold. But they did no great harm after they came together; save that they took meat, and enticed to them all the land-folk by the sea-coast and also upward in the land. And they proceeded toward Sandwich, ever alluring forth with them all the boatmen that they met; and to Sandwich they came with an increasing army. They then steered eastward round to Dover, and landing there, took as many ships and hostages as they chose, and so returned to Sandwich, where they did the same; and men everywhere gave them hostages and provisions, wherever they required them. Then proceeded they to the Nore, and so toward London; but some of the ships landed on the Isle of Shepey, and did much harm there; whence they steered to Milton Regis, and burned it all, and then proceeded toward London after the earls. When they came to London, there lay the king and all his earls to meet them, with fifty ships. The earls then sent to the king, praying that they might be each possessed of those things which had been unjustly taken from them. But the king resisted some while; so long that the people who were with the earl were very much stirred against the king and against his people, so that the earl himself with difficulty appeased them. When King Edward understood that, then sent he upward after more aid; but they came very late[1].

And Godwin stationed himself continually before London with his fleet, till he came to Southwark; where he abode some time, until the flood came up. On this occasion he also contrived with the burgesses that they should do almost all that he would. When he had arranged his whole expedition, then came the flood; and they soon weighed anchor, and steered through the bridge by the south side. The land-force meanwhile came above, and arranged themselves by the Strand; and they formed an angle with the ships against the north side, as if they wished to surround the king's ships. The king had also a great land-force on his side, to add to his shipmen: but they were most of them loth to fight with their own kinsmen--for there was little else of any great importance but Englishmen on either side; and they were also unwilling that this land should be the more exposed to outlandish people, because they destroyed each other. Then it was determined that wise men should be sent between them, who should settle peace on either side. Godwin went up, and Harold his son, and their navy, as many as they then thought proper[1].

Then advanced Bishop Stigand with God's assistance, and the wise men both within the town and without; who determined that hostages should be given on either side. And so they did. When Archbishop Robert and the Frenchmen knew that, they took horse; and went some west to Pentecost Castle, some north to Robert's castle. Archbishop Robert and Bishop Ulf, with their companions, went out at Eastgate, slaying or else maiming many young men, and betook themselves at once to Eadulf's-ness; where he put himself on board a crazy ship, and went at once over sea, leaving his pall and all Christendom here on land, as God ordained, because he had obtained an honour which God disclaimed. Then was proclaimed a general council without London; and all the earls and the best men in the land were at the council. There took up Earl Godwin his burthen, and cleared himself there before his lord King Edward, and before all the nation; proving that he was innocent of the crime laid to his charge, and to his son Harold and all his children. And the king gave the earl and his children, and all the men that were with him, his full friendship, and the full earldom, and all that he possessed before; and he gave the lady all that she had before. Archbishop Robert was fully proclaimed an outlaw, with all the Frenchmen; because they chiefly made the discord between Earl Godwin and the king: and Bishop Stigand succeeded to the archbishopric at Canterbury[1].

At the council therefore they gave Godwin fairly his earldom, so full and so free as he at first possessed it; and his sons also all that they formerly had; and his wife and his daughter so full and so free as they formerly had. And they fastened full friendship between them, and ordained good laws to all people. Then they outlawed all Frenchmen--who before instituted bad laws, and judged unrighteous judgment, and brought bad counsels into this land--except so many as they concluded it was agreeable to the king to have with him, who were true to him and to all his people. It was with difficulty that Bishop Robert, and Bishop William, and Bishop Ulf, escaped with the Frenchmen that were with them, and so went over sea. Earl Godwin, and Harold, and the queen, sat in their stations. Sweyne had before gone to Jerusalem from Bruges, and died on his way home at Constantinople, at Michaelmas. It was on the Monday after the festival of St. Mary, that Godwin came with his ships to Southwark: and on the morning afterwards, on the Tuesday, they were reconciled as it stands here before recorded. Godwin then sickened soon after he came up, and returned back. But he made altogether too little restitution of God's property, which he acquired from many places. At the same time Arnwy, Abbot of Peterborough, resigned his abbacy in full health; and gave it to the monk Leofric, with the king's leave and that of the monks; and the Abbot Arnwy lived afterwards eight winters. The Abbot Leofric gilded the minster, so that it was called Gildenborough; and it then waxed very much in land, and in gold, and in silver.[1]


This year came King Harold from York to Westminster, on the Easter succeeding the midwinter when the king (Edward) died. Easter was then on the sixteenth day before the calends of May. Then was over all England such a token seen as no man ever saw before. Some men said that it was the comet-star, which others denominate the long-hair'd star. It appeared first on the eve called "Litania major", that is, on the eighth before the calends off May; and so shone all the week. Soon after this came in Earl Tosty from beyond sea into the Isle of Wight, with as large a fleet as he could get; and he was there supplied with money and provisions. Thence he proceeded, and committed outrages everywhere by the sea-coast where he could land, until he came to Sandwich. When it was told King Harold, who was in London, that his brother Tosty was come to Sandwich, he gathered so large a force, naval and military, as no king before collected in this land; for it was credibly reported that Earl William from Normandy, King Edward's cousin, would come hither and gain this land; just as it afterwards happened. When Tosty understood that King Harold was on the way to Sandwich, he departed thence, and took some of the boatmen with him, willing and unwilling, and went north into the Humber with sixty skips; whence he plundered in Lindsey, and there slew many good men. When the Earls Edwin and Morkar understood that, they came hither, and drove him from the land. And the boatmen forsook him. Then he went to Scotland with twelve smacks; and the king of the Scots entertained him, and aided him with provisions; and he abode there all the summer. There met him Harold, King of Norway, with three hundred ships. And Tosty submitted to him, and became his man. [1].

Then came King Harold to Sandwich, where he awaited his fleet; for it was long ere it could be collected: but when it was assembled, he went into the Isle of Wight, and there lay all the summer and the autumn. There was also a land-force every where by the sea, though it availed nought in the end. It was now the nativity of St. Mary, when the provisioning of the men began; and no man could keep them there any longer. They therefore had leave to go home: and the king rode up, and the ships were driven to London; but many perished ere they came thither. When the ships were come home, then came Harald, King of Norway, north into the Tine, unawares, with a very great sea-force--no small one; that might be, with three hundred ships or more; and Earl Tosty came to him with all those that he had got; just as they had before said: and they both then went up with all the fleet along the Ouse toward York. When it was told King Harold in the south, after he had come from the ships, that Harald, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty were come up near York, then went he northward by day and night, as soon as he could collect his army. But, ere King Harold could come thither, the Earls Edwin and Morkar had gathered from their earldoms as great a force as they could get, and fought with the enemy. They made a great slaughter too; but there was a good number of the English people slain, and drowned, and put to flight: and the Northmen had possession of the field of battle. It was then told Harold, king of the English, that this had thus happened. And this fight was on the eve of St. Matthew the apostle, which was Wednesday. Then after the fight went Harold, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty into York with as many followers as they thought fit; and having procured hostages and provisions from the city, they proceeded to their ships, and proclaimed full friendship, on condition that all would go southward with them, and gain this land. In the midst of this came Harold, king of the English, with all his army, on the Sunday, to Tadcaster; where he collected his fleet. Thence he proceeded on Monday throughout York[1].

But Harald, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty, with their forces, were gone from their ships beyond York to Stanfordbridge; for that it was given them to understand, that hostages would be brought to them there from all the shire. Thither came Harold, king of the English, unawares against them beyond the bridge; and they closed together there, and continued long in the day fighting very severely. There was slain Harald the Fair-hair'd, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty, and a multitude of people with them, both of Normans and English; and the Normans that were left fled from the English, who slew them hotly behind; until some came to their ships, some were drowned, some burned to death, and thus variously destroyed; so that there was little left: and the English gained possession of the field. But there was one of the Norwegians who withstood the English folk, so that they could not pass over the bridge, nor complete the victory. An Englishman aimed at him with a javelin, but it availed nothing. Then came another under the bridge, who pierced him terribly inwards under the coat of mail. And Harold, king of the English, then came over the bridge, followed by his army; and there they made a great slaughter, both of the Norwegians and of the Flemings. But Harold let the king's son, Edmund, go home to Norway with all the ships. He also gave quarter to Olave, the Norwegian king's son, and to their bishop, and to the earl of the Orkneys, and to all those that were left in the ships; who then went up to our king, and took oaths that they would ever maintain faith and friendship unto this land. Whereupon the King let them go home with twenty-four ships. These two general battles were fought within five nights. Meantime Earl William came up from Normandy into Pevensey on the eve of St. Michael's mass; and soon after his landing was effected, they constructed a castle at the port of Hastings. This was then told to King Harold; and he gathered a large force, and came to meet him at the estuary of Appledore. William, however, came against him unawares, ere his army was collected; but the king, nevertheless, very hardly encountered him with the men that would support him: and there was a great slaughter made on either side. There was slain King Harold, and Leofwin his brother, and Earl Girth his brother, with many good men: and the Frenchmen gained the field of battle, as God granted them for the sins of the nation[1].

Archbishop Aldred and the corporation of London were then desirous of having child Edgar to king, as he was quite natural to them; and Edwin and Morkar promised them that they would fight with them. But the more prompt the business should ever be, so was it from day to day the later and worse; as in the end it all fared. This battle was fought on the day of Pope Calixtus: and Earl William returned to Hastings, and waited there to know whether the people would submit to him. But when he found that they would not come to him, he went up with all his force that was left and that came since to him from over sea, and ravaged all the country that he overran, until he came to Berkhampstead; where Archbishop Aldred came to meet him, with child Edgar, and Earls Edwin and Morkar, and all the best men from London; who submitted then for need, when the most harm was done. It was very ill-advised that they did not so before, seeing that God would not better things for our sins. And they gave him hostages and took oaths: and he promised them that he would be a faithful lord to them; though in the midst of this they plundered wherever they went. Then on midwinter's day Archbishop Aldred hallowed him to king at Westminster, and gave him possession with the books of Christ, and also swore him, ere that he would set the crown on his head, that he would so well govern this nation as any before him best did, if they would be faithful to him. Nevertheless he laid very heavy tribute on men, and in Lent went over sea to Normandy, taking with him Archbishop Stigand, and Abbot Aylnoth of Glastonbury, and the child Edgar, and the Earls Edwin, Morkar, and Waltheof, and many other good men of England[1].

Bishop Odo and Earl William lived here afterwards, and wrought castles widely through this country, and harassed the miserable people; and ever since has evil increased very much. May the end be good, when God will! In that same expedition was Leofric, Abbot of Peterborough; who sickened there, and came home, and died soon after, on the night of Allhallow-mass. God honour his soul! In his day was all bliss and all good at Peterborough. He was beloved by all; so that the king gave to St. Peter and him the abbey at Burton, and that at Coventry, which the Earl Leofric, who was his uncle, had formerly made; with that of Croyland, and that of Thorney. He did so much good to the minster of Peterborough, in gold, and in silver, and in shroud, and in land, as no other ever did before him, nor any one after him. But now was Gilden-borough become a wretched borough. The monks then chose for abbot Provost Brand, because he was a very good man, and very wise; and sent him to Edgar Etheling, for that the land-folk supposed that he should be king: and the etheling received him gladly. When King William heard say that, he was very wroth, and said that the abbot had renounced him: but good men went between them, and reconciled them; because the abbot was a good man. He gave the king forty marks of gold for his reconciliation; and he lived but a little while after--only three years. Afterwards came all wretchedness and all evil to the minster. God have mercy on it![1]

((A.D. 1066. This year died King Edward, and Harold the earl succeeded to the kingdom, and held it forty weeks and one day. And this year came William, and won England. And in this year Christ-Church [Canterbury] was burned. And this year appeared a comet on the fourteenth before the kalends of May.))

((A.D. 1066. ...And then he [Tosty] went thence, and did harm everywhere by the sea-coast where he could land, as far as Sandwich. Then was it made known to King Harold, who was in London, that Tosty his brother was come to Sandwich. Then gathered he so great a ship-force, and also a land force, as no king here in the land had before gathered, because it had been soothly said unto him, that William the earl from Normandy, King Edward's kinsman, would come hither and subdue this land: all as it afterwards happened. When Tosty learned that King Harold was on his way to Sandwich, then went he from Sandwich, and took some of the boatmen with him, some willingly and some unwillingly; and went then north into Humber, and there ravaged in Lindsey, and there slew many good men. When Edwin the earl and Morcar the earl understood that, then came they thither, and drove him out of the land. And he went then to Scotland: and the king of Scots protected him, and assisted him with provisions; and he there abode all the summer. Then came King Harold to Sandwich, and there awaited his fleet, because it was long before it could be gathered together. And when his fleet was gathered together, then went he into the Isle of Wight, and there lay all the summer and the harvest; and a land-force was kept everywhere by the sea, though in the end it was of no benefit. When it was the Nativity of St. Mary, then were the men's provisions gone, and no man could any longer keep them there. Then were the men allowed to go home, and the king rode up, and the ships were dispatched to London; and many perished before they came thither. When the ships had reached home, then came King Harald from Norway, north into Tyne, and unawares, with a very large ship-force, and no small one; that might be, or more. And Tosty the earl came to him with all that he had gotten, all as they had before agreed; and then they went both, with all the fleet, along the Ouse, up towards York. Then was it made known to King Harold in the south, as he was come from on ship-board, that Harald King of Norway and Tosty the earl were landed near York. Then went he northward, day and night, as quickly as he could gather his forces. Then, before that King Harold could come thither, then gathered Edwin the earl and Morcar the earl from their earldom as great a force as they could get together; and they fought against the army, and made great slaughter: and there was much of the English people slain, and drowned, and driven away in flight; and the Northmen had possession of the place of carnage. And this fight was on the vigil of St. Matthew the apostle, and it was Wednesday. And then, after the fight, went Harald, King of Norway, and Tosty the earl, into York, with as much people as seemed meet to them. And they delivered hostages to them from the city, and also assisted them with provisions; and so they went thence to their ships, and they agreed upon a full peace, so that they should all go with him south, and this land subdue. Then, during this, came Harold, king of the Angles, with all his forces, on the Sunday, to Tadcaster, and there drew up his force, and went then on Monday throughout York; and Harald, King of Norway, and Tosty the earl, and their forces, were gone from their ships beyond York to Stanfordbridge, because it had been promised them for a certainty, that there, from all the shire, hostages should be brought to meet them. Then came Harold, king of the English, against them, unawares, beyond the bridge, and they there joined battle, and very strenuously, for a long time of the day, continued fighting: and there was Harald, King of Norway, and Tosty the earl slain, and numberless of the people with them, as well of the Northmen as of the English: and the Northmen fled from the English. Then was there one of the Norwegians who withstood the English people, so that they might not pass over the bridge, nor obtain the victory. Then an Englishman aimed at him with a javelin, but availed nothing; and then came another under the bridge, and pierced him terribly inwards under the coat of mail. Then came Harold, king of the English, over the bridge, and his forces onward with him, and there made great slaughter, as well of Norwegians as of Flemings. And the King's son, Edmund, Harold let go home to Norway, with all the ships.)) ((A.D. 1066. In this year was consecrated the minster at Westminster, on Childer-mass-day. And King Edward died on the eve of Twelfth-day; and he was buried on Twelfth-day within the newly consecrated church at Westminster. And Harold the earl succeeded to the kingdom of England, even as the king had granted it to him, and men also had chosen him thereto; and he was crowned as king on Twelfth-day. And that same year that he became king, he went out with a fleet against William [Earl of Normandy]; and the while, came Tosty the earl into Humber with sixty ships. Edwin the earl came with a land-force and drove him out; and the boatmen forsook him. And he went to Scotland with twelve vessels; and Harald, the King of Norway, met him with three hundred ships, and Tosty submitted to him; and they both went into Humber, until they came to York. And Morcar the earl, and Edwin the earl, fought against them; and the king of the Norwegians had the victory. And it was made known to King Harold how it there was done, and had happened; and he came there with a great army of English men, and met him at Stanfordbridge, and slew him and the earl Tosty, and boldly overcame all the army. And the while, William the earl landed at Hastings, on St. Michael's-day: and Harold came from the north, and fought against him before all his army had come up: and there he fell, and his two brothers, Girth and Leofwin; and William subdued this land. And he came to Westminster, and Archbishop Aldred consecrated him king, and men paid him tribute, delivered him hostages, and afterwards bought their land. And then was Leofric, Abbot of Peterborough, in that same expedition; and there he sickened, and came home, and was dead soon thereafter, on All-hallows-mass-night; God be merciful to his soul! In his day was all bliss and all good in Peterborough; and he was dear to all people, so that the king gave to St. Peter and to him the abbacy at Burton, and that of Coventry, which Leofric the earl, who was his uncle, before had made, and that of Crowland, and that of Thorney. And he conferred so much of good upon the minster of Peterborough, in gold, and in silver, and in vestments, and in land, as never any other did before him, nor any after him. After, Golden-borough became a wretched borough. Then chose the monks for abbot Brand the provost, by reason that he was a very good man, and very wise, and sent him then to Edgar the etheling, by reason that the people of the land supposed that he should become king: and the etheling granted it him then gladly. When King William heard say that, then was he very wroth, and said that the abbot had despised him. Then went good men between them, and reconciled them, by reason that the abbot was a good man. Then gave he the king forty marks of gold for a reconciliation; and then thereafter, lived he a little while, but three years. After that came every tribulation and every evil to the minster. God have mercy on it!))[1].


This year the King William held his court at Christmas in Glocester; and messengers came to him thither from his brother Robert of Normandy; who said that his brother renounced all peace and conditions, unless the king would fulfil all that they had stipulated in the treaty; and upon that he called him forsworn and void of truth, unless he adhered to the treaty, or went thither and explained himself there, where the treaty was formerly made and also sworn. Then went the king to Hastings at Candlemas; and whilst he there abode waiting the weather, he let hallow the minster at Battel, and deprived Herbert Losang, the Bishop of Thetford, of his staff; and thereafter about mid-Lent went over sea into Normandy. After he came, thither, he and his brother Robert, the earl, said that they should come together in peace (and so they did), and might be united. Afterwards they came together with the same men that before made the treaty, and also confirmed it by oaths; and all the blame of breaking the treaty they threw upon the king; but he would not confess this, nor even adhere to the treaty; and for this reason they parted with much dissatisfaction. And the king afterwards won the castle at Bures, and took the earl's men therein; some of whom he sent hither to this land. On the other hand the earl, with the assistance of the King of France, won the castle at Argence, and took therein Roger of Poitou, and seven hundred of the king's knights with him; and afterwards that at Hulme; and oft readily did either of them burn the towns of the other, and also took men. Then sent the king hither to this land, and ordered twenty thousand Englishmen to be sent out to Normandy to his assistance; but when they came to sea, they then had orders to return, and to pay to the king's behoof the fee that they had taken; which was half a pound each man; and they did so. And the earl after this, with the King of France, and with all that he could gather together, went through the midst of Normandy, towards Ou, where the King William was, and thought to besiege him within; and so they advanced until they came to Luneville[1]

There was the King of France through cunning turned aside; and so afterwards all the army dispersed. In the midst of these things the King William sent after his brother Henry, who was in the castle at Damfront; but because he could not go through Normandy with security, he sent ships after him, and Hugh, Earl of Chester. When, however, they should have gone towards Ou where the king was, they went to England, and came up at Hamton, on the eve of the feast of All Saints, and here afterwards abode; and at Christmas they were in London. In this same year also the Welshmen gathered themselves together, and with the French that were in Wales, or in the neighbourhood, and had formerly seized their land, stirred up war, and broke into many fastnesses and castles, and slew many men. And when their followers had increased, they divided themselves into larger parties. With some part of them fought Hugh, Earl of Shropshire, and put them to flight. Nevertheless the other part of them all this year omitted no evil that they could do. This year also the Scots ensnared their king, Duncan, and slew him; and afterwards, the second time, took his uncle Dufenal to king, through whose instruction and advice he was betrayed to death[1]


King Henry I, lay encamped, as is stated, with a prodigious army, not far from Hastings (at Pevensey) to look out for the landing of his brother, Robert Earl of Normandy, who was coming, with a great force, to invade his kingdom.[2]


  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u, accessdate: 21 May 2020
  2. The History and Antiquities of the Town and Port of Hastings: Illustrated by a Series of Engravings (Moss 1824) pg.67-68 Google Books ESCC Library Order via Amazon