Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Sketches of Scottish History (9)

On an opposite hill, in three lines archers, footsoldiers,
horsemen was the Norman force. Of a
sudden, a great battle-cry burst from the Norman
lines. The English answered with their own battlecry.
The Normans then came sweeping down the
hill to attack the English.
There was one tall Norman knight who rode before
the Norman army on a prancing horse, throwing
up his heavy sword and catching it, and singing
of the bravery of his countrymen. An English
knight who rode out from the English force to meet
him, fell by this knight's hand. Another English
knight rode out, and he fell too. But then a third
rode out, and killed the Norman. This was in the
beginning of the fight. It soon raged everywhere.
The English, keeping side by side in a great
mass, cared no more for the showers of Norman arrows
than if they had been showers of Norman rain.
When the Norman horsemen rode against them,
with their battle-axes they cut men and horses
down. The Normans gave way. The English pressed
forward. A cry went forth among the Norman
troops that Duke William was killed. Duke William
took off his helmet, in order that his face might
be distinctly seen, and rode along the line before
his men. This gave them courage. As they turned
again to face the English, some of the Norman
horse divided the pursuing body of the English
from the rest, and thus all that foremost portion of
the English fell, fighting bravely. The main body
still remaining firm, heedless of the Norman arrows,
and with their battle-axes cutting down the crowds
of horsemen when they rode up, like forests ofyoung
trees, Duke William pretended to retreat. The
eager English followed. The Norman army closed
again, and fell upon them with great slaughter.

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