Page 1271


charge of William's cavalry was bravely met

and repelled. The English battle axes cut the

lances of the knights and cleft both horse and

rider. At one time the report was spread

that William was slain, and his followers fell

into dismay and confusion. But the prince

reappeared unhurt, threw up his visor that he

might be seen, and rallied his men to the

charge. From nine o'clock in the forenoon

until three in the afternoon the battle raged

with fury. At the last, after many maneuvers, Duke William resorted to a stratagem.

He ordered his knights to charge and then

to turn and fly. The English, deceived by

the pretended retreat of the foe, broke from

their lines to pursue the flying Normans.

The latter, being strongly reinforced, turned

suddenly about at a signal and fell upon their

scattered pursuers. The disordered English

were encompassed and cut down by thousands.

The chieftains wielded their battle axes with

terrible effect, but were ridden down and


In another part of the field the Normans

adopted the same stratagem and were again

successful. Even a third time the imprudent English were made to believe themselves victorious, but were again turned

upon and routed. The lines of Harold's

encampment were broken through. Then

the fight raged briefly around the standard

of England, which was finally cut down and

supplanted by the banner of Normandy.

Harold's two brothers were slain in the

struggle. The English were turned into a

rout, but ever and anon they made a stand

in that disastrous twilight of Saxon England.

Victory declared for William. King Harold

himself was killed by a random arrow, which,

piercing his left eye, entered his brain. Nearly

one-half of his soldiers were either killed or

wounded. Of William's army, more than a

fourth perished in the battle, and the jubilation of Norman triumph sounded like a spasmodic cry over the dead bodies of three

thousand Norman knights. Sorrowful was

the sight of Queen Edith searching among

the slain for the body of her lord. At such a

price was the oath made good which Prince

Harold had unwittingly taken over the bones

of the saints.

The immediate result of the battle of