1271 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY-FEUDAL ENGLAND.
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