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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.


Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France, Spain and the Ajoining Countries from the latter part of the reign of Edward II to the coronation of Henry IV in 12 volumes 

Chronicles of Enguerrand De Monstrelet (Sir John Froissart's Chronicles continuation) in 13 volumes 

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Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 17

unlike their Norman foes, they on that anxious night uttered no prayers to heaven for their safety in the morrow's bloody contest. No priests were busy in their camps, speaking comfort and peace to the contrite and afflicted. Only in boosing and licentiousness did they pass the hours, Drink heal and Wassail echoing from mouth to mouth, till the welkin rung with their mad revels. At the peep of day, on October the fourteenth, 106G, both armies met in full array, at a place called LTeathfield, about seven miles from Hastings ; and it being Harold's birthday, his army, flushed with the recent victory over Tostig and the king of Norway, made sure of beating the Normans from the field. Not so, however, with Harold himself, who, well knowing the powerful foe he was about to encounter, and too late perceiving the rashness of risking all in a single battle, would gladly have retreated, had the measure been possible. The Anglo-Saxons were arrayed on well-chosen ground, with their flanks secured against cavalry by deep trenches. Harold, and his brothers, Ourth and Leofwin, commanded the infantry, in whose front ranks stood the Kentish men of invincible renown. And the cavalry was headed by the Earls Morcar and Edwin. The Normans were drawn up in three bodies. The first was commanded by Montgomery and Fitz-Osborn ; the second by Geoffrey Martel; and the third, the flower of the troops, was headed by William himself, and kept hack as a reserve to act at the decisive moment. The action continued tiH nightfall, and was well sustained on both sides. The Saxons fought with their accustomed bravery. More than once they were on the point of driving their better-disciplined foemen from the field, and although again and again repulsed, as often did they vigorously return to the charge. The God of battle, however, was against them. Eventide was fast approaching—the strife yet raged hot and furious. The Norman Duke, although not himself wounded, had already had three horses slain under him, and his intrepid bowmen had repeatedly showered clouds of arrows thick as hail'on the. heads of the Saxon infantry without breaking their ranks. But perceiving that the Saxons had possession of a hill which would cover their retreat, by favour of the night, William made a desperate effort to drive them hence. The onslaught was furious, and Harold, whilst courageously leading on his men to an attack in the thickest of the fray, was slain by a stray arrow, which entered his eye and pierced his brain, Dispirited and panic-stricken at the loss of their leader, his troops fell into disorder, took to flight, and, until darkness set in, were pursued with merciless slaughter by the victorious Normans. On retiring to their camp, the Normans, in fervent prayer, thanked God for so signal a victory, and for that night retired to rest upon the battle field, which ever since has been called Sunguelac, or the lagoon of blood, in commemoration of this long and fiercely contested battle. William's victory was most complete and decisive. He lost but six thousand men, whilst the power of the Saxons was completely crushed, sixty thousand of their best and bravest veterans having fallen on that fatal day. The Normans devoted the following day to the burial of their dead, and they permitted the Saxons to perform the like sad office to their own slaughtered friends. On hearing of the overthrow and death of Harold, Girtha, his mother, overcome with sorrow at the direful calamity, hastened to the Conqueror, and offered him rich presents for permission to bury the body of her beloved son. William, with a worthy generosity, freely accorded the boon, but peremptorily refused the proffered ransom. After thanking the Conqueror with tears of gratitude, Girtha hastened to the field of the slain ; but so mangled and hacked had been the dead by the vengeful victors, that their features could not be identified, andalL search for the remains of Harold was at first in vain. There, however, was one who had loved too well not to identify, even amongst thousands of stripped and frightfully gashed bodies, the adored object of her affections. Edith, or the "swan necked," a beautiful Saxon lady of high rank, who had been his jilted mistress, scoured the battle field, and discovered

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