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EXERCISE VIII.

BATTLE OF HASTINGS.- LINGARD.

The spot which Harold had selected for this important contest, was called Senlac, nine miles from Hastings, an eminence opening to the south, and covered on the back by an extensive wood. As his troops arrived, he posted them on the declivity, in one compact and immense mass. In the centre, waved the royal standard, the figure of a warrior in the act of fighting, worked in thread of gold, and ornamented with precious stones. By its side, stood Harold and his two brothers Gurth and Leofwin; and, around them, the rest of the army, every man on foot. In this arrangement, the king seems to have adopted, as far as circnmstances would permit, the plan which had lately proved so fatal to the Norwegians, and which now, from the same causes, was productive of a similar result.

Probably he feared the shock of the numerous cavalry of the Normans. Both men and horses were completely cased in armor, which gave to their charge an irresistible weight, and rendered them almost invulnerable by ordinary weapons. For the purpose of opposing them with more chance of success, Harold had brought with him engines to discharge stones into their ranks, and had recommended to his soldiers to confine themselves, in close fight, to the use of the battle-axe, a heavy and murderous weapon.

On the opposite hill, William was employed in marshalling his host. In the front, he placed the

archers and bowmen: the second line was composed of heavy infantry, clothed in coats of mail; and, behind these, the duke arranged, in five divisions, the hope and the pride of the Norman force, the knights and the men at arms. About nine in the morning, the arıny began to move, crossed the interval between the two bills, and slowly ascended the eminence on which the English were posted. The Pa-' pal banner, as an omen of victory, was carried in the front, by Toustain the fair, a dangerous honor, which two of the Norman barons had successively declined.

At the moment when the armies were ready to engage, the Normans raised the national shout of God is our help,' which was as loudly answered by the adverse cry of Clirist's rood, the holy rood.' The archers, after the discharge of their arrows, retired to the infantry, whose weak and extended line was unable to make any impression on their more numerous opponents.

William ordered the cavalry to charge. The shock was dreadful : but the English, in every point, opposed a solid and impenetrable mass. Neither buckler nor corslet would withstand the stroke of the battle axe, wielded by a powerful arm, and with unerring aim ; and the confidence of the Normans melted away at the view of their own loss, and the bold countenance of their enemies.

After a short pause, the horse and foot of the left wing betook themselves to fight : their opponents eagerly pursued ; and a report was spread that William himself had fallen. The whole army began to wayer; when the duke, with bis helmet in his hand,

rode along the line exclaiming, 'I am still alive, and, with the help of God, I shall still conquer.' The presence and confidence of their commander revived the hopes of the Normans; and the speedy destruction of the English, who had pursued the fugitives, was fondly magnified into an assurance of victory. These brave, but incautious men had, on their return, been intercepted by a numerous body of cavalry; and, on foot and in confusion, they quickly disappeared beneath the swords, or rather the horses, of the enemy. Not a man survived the carnage.

William led his troops again to the attack: but the English column, dense and immoveable as a rock amidst the waves, resisted every assault. Disappointed and perplexed, the Norman had recourse to a stratagem, suggested by his success in the earlier part of the day. He ordered a division of horse to flee: they were pursued; and the temerity of the pursuers was punished with instant destruction. The same feint was tried with equal success in another part of the field. These losses might diminish the numbers of the English; but the main body obstinately maintained its position, and bade defiance to every effort of the Normans.

During the engagement, William had given the most signal proofs of personal bravery. Three horses had been killed under him, and he had been compelled to grapple on foot with his adversaries. Harold had also animated his followers, both by word and example, and had displayed a courage worthy of the crown for which he was fighting. His

brothers Gurth and Leofwin had perished already; but as long as he survived, no man entertained the apprehension of defeat or admitted the idea of flight. A little before sunset an arrow,

shot at random, entered his eye. He instantly fell; and the knowledge of his fall relaxed the efforts of the English.

Twenty Normans undertook to seize the royal banner; and effected their purpose, but with the loss of half their number. One of them, who maimed with his sword the dead body of the king, was afterwards disgraced by William, for his brutality. At dusk, the English broke up, and dispersed through the wood.

As William, attracted by the cries of the combatants, was hastening to the place, he met Eustace of Boulogne and fifty knights, fleeing with all their speed. He called on them to stop; but the earl, while he was in the act of whispering into the ear of the duke, received a stroke on the back, which forced the blood out of his mouth and nostrils. He was carried in a state of insensibility to his tent. William’s intrepidity hurried him forward to the scene of danger; his presence encouraged his men; succors arrived; and the English, after an obstinate resistance, were repulsed.

On the side of the victors, almost sixty thousand men had been engaged, and more than one-fourth were left on the field. The number of the vanquished, and the amount of their loss, are unknown. By the vanity of the Norman historians, the English army has been exaggerated beyond the limits of credibility: by that of the native writers it has been re

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