Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Sketches of Scottish History (8)

Harold broke up the feast and hurried to London.
Within a week, his army was ready. He sent out
spies to ascertain the Norman strength. William
took them, caused them to be led through his whole
camp, and then dismissed. " The Normans," said
these spies to Harold," are not bearded on the upper
Hp as we English are, but are shorn. They are
priests."
" My men," replied Harold, with a laugh,
" will find those priests good soldiers."
" The Saxons," reported Duke William's outposts
of Norman soldiers, who were instructed to retire
as King Harold's army advanced,
" rush on us
through their pillaged country with the fury of
madmen."
" Let them come, and come soon !"
said DukeWilliam.

Some proposals for a reconciliation were made,
but were soon abandoned. In the middle of the
month of October, in the year 1066, the Normans
and the English came front to front. All night the
armies lay encamped before each other, in a part of
the country then called Senlac, now called (in remembrance
of them) -Battle. With the first dawn
of day they arose. There, in the faint light, were
the English on a hill ; a wood behind them ; in
their midst the royal banner, representing a fighting
warrior, woven in gold thread adorned with
precious stones ; beneath the banner, as it rustled
in the wind, stood King Harold on foot, with two
of his remaining brothers by his side ; around them,
still and silent as the dead, clustered the whole
English army every soldier covered by his shield,
and bearing in his hand his dreaded English battleaxe

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