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12 weeks since Harold Godwinson was crowned King of England.
Now, there's much work to be done.
Already, two powerful warlords
are plotting to rip the crown from his head.
William of Normandy...
..and a Viking, King Harald Hardrada...
I will carve my name in legend.
..are both planning to launch vast invasion fleets...
Come on, men!
..to wage war.
1066 is about so much more than just the Battle of Hastings.
That year, England would endure three invasions
and three terrible battles.
Three mighty warlords battle for supremacy on English soil,
and by the end of the year,
only one of them would still be alive.
What 1066 led to is stamped on our landscape.
The Normans forged a new Britain with language,
laws and customs we still live with today.
But just how a tiny region of France
seized such power, is much less clear.
Now I'm travelling Europe in search of answers...
These are human bone, almost certainly.
..experimenting with tactics and weapons...
Hands by your side for a second.
..and discovering revelations hidden within a unique document
written just months after those great battles...
This, even by medieval standards, is shockingly brutal behaviour.
..to reveal a bitter tale of family betrayals...
He'll stab you in the back.
..and tragic twists of fate...
We take no notice of omens and doubters.
..which would change the shape of Britain...
March to battle.
-Shall we do battle?
This is the real story of 1066.
Harold Godwinson rides south from Northumbria.
Not long now for a decent meal and some sleep.
As a new king, he must secure his power right across England.
Harold had grabbed the throne
as soon as King Edward the Confessor died...
HE PRAYS IN LATIN
..sidelining Edgar, Edward's great-nephew,
and convincing the Anglo-Saxon nobles
to elect him instead.
Now, with his loyal brother Gyrth,
Harold has been visiting the often rebellious Northern Earls.
Well, I think that went well.
-At least you got a wife out of it.
Do you like her?
-I do, but that's not the point.
The crucial problem facing Harold in 1066,
was to try to create unity
in the Midlands and the North,
and his way of doing this was to abandon the wife of 20 years,
Edith Swanneck, and to marry, instead,
the sister of the Earls of Northumbria and Mercia,
who's also called Edith.
-So, two Ediths?
-Be interesting when they meet.
All seemed well in Harold's England,
but the reality was that the new king was beset by problems,
both at home and abroad.
To the south, William, Duke of Normandy,
and to the north, the Viking, King Harald Hardrada,
are both plotting to destroy Anglo-Saxon England.
Let our enemies gouge out the eyes of their own brothers.
Then, God willing,
they will be too blind to see when I take what is mine.
That's the one thing you can trust about an Englishman -
he'll stab you in the back.
Well, we're going to stab them in the front.
William was one of the most powerful and impressive men
in Western Europe at this time,
and he genuinely believed that, 15 years previously,
he had been promised the throne of England
by England's king,
and he was not going to let anything get in the way of that claim.
But 1,000 miles to the north, William has a powerful rival.
You useless veslingr!
Even an old man like me could do better than that.
Hardrada is the ultimate Viking.
A despotic warrior who's battle-hardened from years of war.
Hardrada is still ambitious.
Like all Vikings, he still craves glory
and plunder and fame.
Kiss my thin-lipped axe!
Harold faces danger from overseas, but also at home,
in the shape of a younger brother called Tostig.
Tostig had been stripped of the earldom of Northumbria,
when powerful nobles rebelled against his tyranny.
To avoid a civil war, he'd been sent into exile.
Thirsty for revenge,
he had betrayed his brother by seeking to support William.
He's stolen my lands, he's stolen your crown.
Together, we can destroy him.
And bitter hatred had also taken him north
to pledge allegiance to the Vikings.
England is yours for the taking.
Invade now and your name will live forever.
But Tostig is too angry to wait for his new allies.
He decides to go it alone.
Two weeks later, and England is under attack.
Come on, men!
Let's show that filthy bastard!
60 warships are closing in on the Isle of Wight.
In a vicious act of family betrayal,
Tostig brings war to his own brother's kingdom.
Soon, we will have landfall.
I've invited three historians
to get inside the heads of our competing warlords.
This is lies, lies, lies! All you ever speak are lies.
They'll explore the thinking behind their battle plans.
We're going to continue down the coast to the mouth of the Humber
and we're going to attack York.
..William of Normandy...
..and Harald Hardrada...
..now ask, "Just what was Tostig up to?"
I can't say that I'm particularly surprised that he's upset.
He wants his land and his power back.
But I am surprised by the way he's going about it.
He is crossing the Channel from Flanders with 60 ships
and heading for the Isle of Wight.
What does he hope to achieve?
I am as bewildered as you.
It was only a few weeks ago
that Tostig pledged me his support, so what is he up to?
Is he expecting me to cross over and join him?
Because if so, he is making a serious mistake.
I am not going to be ready to launch my own invasion for months yet.
Well, don't forget that Tostig has already offered me the chance
to become King of England, by proposing
a joint invasion from the north late in the summer.
I've no idea what he's up to.
Maybe his lust for revenge against you, Harold,
has finally tipped him over the edge
because he's acting like he's gone totally insane.
Landing unopposed, Tostig ran riot on the Isle of Wight.
He attacked people, burnt buildings, and stole food and weapons.
A direct assault on his brother Harold's authority.
He had to be stopped.
Back in the 11th century, it would have taken about two days
for news of Tostig's invasion of the Isle of Wight
to reach Harold in London.
He immediately set off for the south coast,
and he gathered together what the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describes as,
"The largest concentration of land and naval forces
"ever assembled by a king of England."
England had a particularly impressive and sophisticated way
of raising an army at this point.
On the one hand, there are the personal bodyguard
of the king himself and of all his main nobles - the housecarls.
These were professional soldiers, effectively.
In addition to that, the structure of English governance,
through counties or shires and hundreds,
enables a king to raise men from the countryside -
the fyrd, as it's known -
and they will fight for their locality.
Hearing that his brother was on his way with overwhelming force,
..sailing up the east coast of England.
He attempted to take land in the north,
but there he faced his old enemies,
now Harold's newly nurtured allies, the Northern Earls.
Tostig's army is outnumbered and is beaten back...
..but Tostig escapes.
With just 12 remaining ships,
he makes it to the safe haven of Scotland...
..a convenient northern base to link up with Harald Hardrada
and the Vikings.
King Harold had been tested for the first time in his short reign.
He'd managed to repel the first invasion of England in 1066.
But he must have known that wouldn't be the only challenge
to his authority that year.
Tostig might have fled, but Harold knew that,
across the Channel in Normandy, William's plans were advancing fast.
You have travelled far and wide, I trust.
Yes, I have left no path untrodden.
There is enthusiasm, my lord, a fervour...
..even a passion for your great enterprise.
-I sense a "but".
A small number of nobles are...a little reticent.
Don't they know what rewards await them on the other side of the sea?
That's the problem.
They fear the sea will swallow up their men,
their horses, their boats, and they will be left with nothing.
It is God who marshals the sea.
With his blessing, we will fly across the ditch
and put right a wicked wrong.
I have no doubt.
William's headquarters were at Caen.
Now one of Normandy's largest cities,
in the 11th century this was a small town,
which William fortified into a power base.
From his castle,
he set about winning political support for his invasion.
People would have been very unsure about the idea
of simply going in and conquering another country
and killing an anointed king.
The king, of course, Harold, has been anointed with holy oil.
He is God's chosen representative of his people,
and therefore the act of killing him
unsettles people across Europe.
William quickly realised that he'd need to appeal
to an even higher power to back him up.
It was time to recruit God.
THEY PRAY IN LATIN
William and his wife Matilda were devout Christians.
They built two great abbeys in a grand display of their piety.
William turned to Pope Alexander II for help.
He sent envoys all the way to Rome to put his case for the invasion.
For William to gain the support of the Pope was very important to him
in terms of the legitimacy of his claim,
that he could say that God upheld his claim over England
and that those who opposed him were the sinners.
THEY PRAY IN LATIN
The basis of William's case for invasion
was that Harold was a usurper.
First of all, William said that Edward the Confessor
had promised him the throne 15 years before,
and Harold had stolen it.
But William had a further ace up his sleeve.
He said that Harold HIMSELF had promised him the throne
just two years before.
The story of what happened is told in our most famous record of 1066...
..the Bayeux Tapestry.
Harold sails across the Channel.
Storms blow him onto French soil, where he's arrested.
William secures Harold's release and brings him to Normandy...
..and there, in the key scene,
Harold makes an oath over holy relics,
promising to support William's claim to the English throne.
What the Bayeux Tapestry doesn't explain
is why Harold was at sea in the first place.
Another unique document offers a clue.
Hidden in the national library in Brussels
is an ancient book containing an epic poem.
The Carmen, or Song, Of The Battle Of Hastings,
is now regarded as our earliest surviving account of 1066.
It's packed with details
that challenge much of what we thought we knew.
The Carmen has an interesting piece of information
about Harold's trip to Normandy.
There's the line where it says...
HE READS IN LATIN
"William was granted a ring and a sword."
Now, the ring and the sword were two of the items
with which you were invested when you were made a king.
So, this is sort of strongly suggesting
that Harold was sent bearing these tokens,
promising William the kingship.
But another ancient writer suggests that William
may not have been totally honest himself.
He says that Harold was in Normandy deliberately,
and he was there to try and secure the release
of two of his family members,
whom Duke William had been holding hostage for 15 years.
I wanted to free my brother and my nephew,
who, I might add, you had been holding
against their will for years.
Right, we agreed that I would free your nephew immediately
and that I would free your brother once I become king.
-And there was one solitary condition...
..and that was that you had to give me your backing
-as Edward's successor.
-Well, there you...
-That was all.
There you go. You've admitted it.
I wanted to get back safely to England with my brother,
with my nephew, so I had to agree to your demands.
But you are admitting that you swore an oath,
you're admitting that you swore it on relics,
and that being so, you will agree that I am within my God-given right
to cross over to England and to take what is mine.
I think that ANYONE would agree.
William's envoy set out these arguments to Pope Alexander.
Would he back him in his campaign against the usurper Harold?
Pope Alexander agreed. He accepted all William's arguments.
He even went so far as to issue William
with a papal banner that his men could carry before them into battle.
It gave William's invasion the status, almost, of a crusade.
-God will keep you safe.
-He'll need to.
But I believe he will.
William was building up his already mighty military force for invasion.
And now he had God on his side,
all of which was bad news for King Harold
and for Anglo-Saxon England.
1,000 miles from Normandy,
Harald Hardrada is in communication with Tostig in Scotland
and preparing his own invasion from the north.
-Are you ready, Asger?
-Aye, my lord.
-Is your axe finely honed?
-'Tis, my lord.
-Shall we do battle?
Like Duke William, Harald Hardrada was hungry for more conquests,
and as a Viking, he believed he had a God-given right to invade England.
It's what the Vikings had been doing for centuries.
But Hardrada also new that this was his last throw of the dice.
This was his last chance to conquer more territory
or cement his own legend.
So, when Harold's vengeful brother Tostig
encouraged Hardrada to invade England,
Hardrada leapt at the chance.
Now, I'm assembling my troops here on the isles
just off the west coast.
Both of you, I think, know that Vikings know their way around ships.
Well, I've got 500 of them and 30,000 men,
all of them battle-hardened warriors,
so this is going to be an invasion to make the whole of England quake.
The core of Harald Hardrada's army is made up of his housecarls.
These are his household retinue.
They're professional soldiers, experienced killers,
battle-hardened from 16 years of war.
But there's also another type of warrior,
and that's the berserkers.
These were warriors who were liable to slip into fits of psychotic rage.
They were impervious to pain. They had no fear of death.
And I think there could be little more frightening in a battle
than fighting somebody who just keeps coming at you,
even when your spear is in his belly.
I kill without compunction...
..and remember all my killings.
I have caused the death of 13 of my enemies.
Hardrada was also a poet.
He was a skald, in Viking terms. He created poetry.
He wanted his name to live forever,
so he did the deeds and then wrote about them.
I found myself creeping from forest to forest...
..with little honour.
I may become renowned far and wide...in the end.
Hardrada believed that victory would ensure his immortal Viking legacy.
He makes provision for Norway to be ruled by his son in his absence,
which may suggest that he doesn't expect to come back,
that he expects to be ruling England.
With the grace of Saint Olaf shining down on me...
..I will end my days King of Norway...
..and King of England.
Thousands of miles apart,
two great forces were preparing to invade England.
Their target was King Harold, but there was, in fact,
another possible rival for the throne,
the natural successor of the Anglo-Saxon royal dynasty,
a boy whose claim was better than any of them.
The boy's identity is revealed in a document from the 1050s.
This is an extraordinary page from an extraordinary manuscript -
the Liber Vitae, the Book Of Life.
But one particular group of entries is extremely interesting
cos here, we've got, "Edward rex" - King Edward -
and, "Edgar clito" - Edgar Aetheling.
And Aetheling means prince or throne-worthy individual -
someone who is being groomed for the succession.
King Edward the Confessor might have been childless,
but in Edgar he had a blood relative -
a direct descendant of Alfred the Great.
But when Edward had died,
Harold hadn't found it hard to sideline the young prince
in his own bid for the throne.
The problem with Edgar Aetheling was that he was very young.
He was a teenager at most
and he doesn't seem to have made any impression on people.
He seems to have hung around at court doing nothing.
So, throughout 1066, as William and Hardrada prepared their invasions,
Edgar remained in the background, watching events unfold.
But by the end of that year,
Edgar would have one more chance to become king.
Harold is now based on the Isle of Wight,
from where he marshals the defence of his kingdom.
He's still unaware of the Viking threat,
or of his brother Tostig's alliance with Hardrada.
Harold's sole aim is to counter the expected Norman invasion
from the south.
It's just a matter of time, that's all.
-You heard what they say about him in Normandy.
He burst into tears because some people called him a common tanner.
He then chopped off their hands and feet.
Well, can you blame him?
100 miles to the south,
William is massing a formidable force of ships,
horses and men at Dives
on the coast of Normandy, near Caen.
-Is this it? Everything?
-Yes. Ships, horses, men - everything.
Normandy has done you proud.
I suppose it's the beginnings of an invasion force.
We have an army here that would have made Charlemagne proud.
But we trust in God.
The exact number of ships that William had with him here at Dives
has long been the source of debate amongst historians.
But there is a document from the time that does give us a few clues.
This is a list of naval obligations for his nobles,
and it says that 14 of his barons, plus his wife Matilda,
all contributed 777 ships.
And it says that the total number of ships with William
was more than 1,000.
By the 4th of August, 1066,
William's vast invasion fleet was ready to set sail.
But William had a problem. In order for him and his fleet
to get safely to the other side of the Channel,
conditions had to be just right,
and the wind kept blowing from the wrong direction.
So, he waited.
Days passed and the conditions didn't improve.
William and his army were stuck here on the wrong side of the Channel.
William is forced to wait.
Every day, he must feed his troops while they kill nothing but time.
It's been estimated that William gathered an invasion force
of up to 14,000 men.
That's a lot of mouths to feed.
This was the quantity of bread that the Normans were eating in 1066.
-How many people would eat that? Not one person?
That's the quantity of bread for five people a day,
compared to this quantity of bread today.
At the Normans' time,
there was 70% of the alimentation based on the bread.
-70% of their daily intake is bread?
So, imagine how much bread you'd need for an army of,
-you know, around 14,000 people.
Wagons of flour.
Now, it's been estimated, if you assume that William had
a force of around 14,000 people here in Dives,
that would have required 14 tonnes of flour
brought to feed that army every day,
to make 6,000 of these guys every single day.
That is a huge effort.
Two weeks pass and still the wind blows.
As well as continuing to feed his troops,
William must also look after thousands of Norman horses.
His crack cavalry was essential to William's plans,
but with it came an inevitable problem.
With up to 3,000 horses, that's a lot of manure.
One estimate has it that William's cavalry produced
around 2,500 tonnes of excrement while they were in Dives.
You add that to all the human waste -
perhaps 450 tonnes - and you get 3,000 tonnes of poo.
That's a lot.
-How are you doing?
-Not too bad. And you?
-That is a big pile of manure.
-It's fumier in French.
-Fumier. How many horses made this?
-Two horses, yeah.
Wow. So, imagine what 3,000 horses would produce.
-A very big pile.
All that manure spelt danger.
It could spread diseases like dysentery,
which would put paid to William's dreams of conquest.
So, William's men had to load up
all that human and animal waste into carts,
to transport it miles away from camp, to a safe distance.
That's around 5,000 cartloads of waste
taken out into the countryside.
Yet another two weeks pass.
Summer will soon turn into autumn...
..and William's great plans are teetering on the edge of collapse.
William was very unlucky.
These kind of hostile conditions
are very unusual in the summer in the Channel.
We've mocked up a weather chart
showing the kind of conditions that he faced through the summer of 1066.
Here's a big area of low pressure,
and the wind goes round it in an anticlockwise fashion.
That means northerly gales banging in here,
keeping the fleet locked in at Dives-sur-Mer.
Now, I've sailed on the Channel a lot,
and you cannot put to sea in these kind of conditions,
particularly with the more primitive ships and rig
that they had in the 11th century.
As summer began to turn into autumn,
time was slipping through William's fingers,
and he must have been getting completely desperate.
Three warriors, the most powerful warlords in Europe,
can rule kingdoms...
..but not the weather.
Across the Channel in England, King Harold waited and waited,
but no invasion came.
The English king must have been tempted to hope
that his kingdom was secure.
There was no sign of William
and Hardrada hadn't showed his hand yet, either.
But all that was about to change.
The Vikings are on the move.
The same northerly winds that keep William trapped in Dives
carry Hardrada towards England,
where he's planning to attack, with Tostig poised
waiting in his Scottish base.
Soon, we will be filling England's graveyards
and feeding the crows on the rotting corpses of her men.
Now, the northerly winds are blowing
me and my Viking warriors across the North Sea.
Now, this is a distance of about 300 miles,
and with a north-east wind at my back,
it should take two or three days to cross.
So, we stop first at Shetland to take provisions,
and again at Orkney.
And then I continue down the east coast of Scotland
A week later,
Hardrada joins with Tostig and his men in Northumbria.
The deposed earl is back, and so are the Vikings.
Meanwhile, Harold is still on the Isle of Wight,
oblivious to the immediate danger.
He continues to look only towards Normandy.
What's the bastard playing at?
Can't wait here forever.
It's now September,
and Harold knows he will soon have to release his army.
As summer turned to autumn, King Harold had a big problem.
The two months of service that his levies had to provide
had come to an end, the English army was running out of food,
and there was the added pressure that the men were needed at home
to help gather in the harvest.
Harold's hand was being forced.
He could only hope that the end of summer
also meant an end to any threat of an attack from William.
So, on the 8th of September, 1066, Harold sent his men home
and ordered his fleet to return to London.
What choice have I got? I can't keep the army at arms indefinitely.
And anyway, autumn is coming and I'm pretty sure
you're not going to risk crossing the Channel
-with an invasion force in September.
I have no intention of standing down,
because I learn that you have stood down your army,
and what that means is that the south of England
now stands undefended.
Look, I've no idea what's going on down here in the south,
and, frankly, I don't really care, either,
because my plan, up in the north, is going like clockwork.
We're going to continue down the coast
to the mouth of the Humber.
We're going to sail up the River Ouse
and we're going to attack York.
York - the ancient Viking capital of England.
For Hardrada, his first target,
and a base from which he could conquer the entire country.
Hardrada and Tostig are poised to take control.
First, the North, then a march to London
and the prize of Harold's throne.
Three days later, the terrible news
that a Viking fleet has landed reaches Harold.
-What do we do now?
He's in our country destroying our lands and our people.
We have no choice.
How incredibly galling for Harold
to discover that, the minute he's dispersed his great army,
his brother and Hardrada have invaded.
He's got to put it all back together again - really quickly.
This is a body blow.
It has come completely out of the blue.
The only thing I can do is get my army back together
and head north fast to take you on.
And I have got to gamble that you
are not going to cross the Channel in autumn.
Then you really do not know me,
because I remain as determined as ever
to cross the Channel, reach the south
and strike hard at your now undefended vitals.
After six weeks of waiting, William had had enough.
He decided to defy the winds and set sail.
It would prove to be a rash decision.
After months of careful planning, William has to gamble.
He knows that time is running out...
..and so he takes his entire force from safe harbour into a stormy sea.
It was a disaster. William lost ships and men.
And instead of crossing the Channel,
he was forced to take refuge 140 miles to the east,
at St Valery in France.
I'm going to admit, things could be better.
In fact, they are verging on the desperate.
I have lost ships and I've lost a large quantity of men in the storm.
On the plus side, I am, of course, now that much closer to England.
But contrary winds continue to blow
and I am still on the wrong side of the Channel.
It's very frustrating.
Storm-battered, William's dream of the English throne
is becoming a nightmare.
Meanwhile, Harold musters a new army,
but he, too, is on the back foot.
He's a long way south of York
and any chance of meeting the Viking threat.
Right now, it's the dark horses - Hardrada and Tostig -
who have a fresh and powerful army ready to strike.
Facing them, only a regional force led by the Northern Earls.
Somehow, they must take on the full might of the Vikings
and their arch enemy, Tostig.
The two forces met at Fulford,
just two miles from the gates of York.
Chas Jones has been excavating the battle site for over 20 years.
Standing here in 1066, what would we have seen?
Well, we are standing on a landscape
that the people who were there would have recognised.
Here, we've got the English
standing on this side of the ditch.
Over there, we've got the Vikings -
round about 6,000 of them ready to do battle.
What they've got to do is
they've got to get across this water-filled ditch.
The tide is in, which is keeping them apart.
They're standing there shouting at each other,
waiting for the tide to drop, so they can actually engage in battle.
The English are lined up here between the river on the one side
and this swampy higher ground on the other side.
This blocks the way to York.
Now, this doesn't really bother me, because I've got a plan.
I've divided my forces in two.
We've got some Vikings here together with Tostig's men.
They're facing the English.
But I am here with my best troops,
hidden away out of sight, round a bend in the river.
So, when the tide goes out,
it's going to drain this ditch of water,
and my front line is going to advance towards the English.
Now, all the English actually need to do is hold their lines.
Astonishingly, they get drawn into the fight,
and that's the moment for my secret weapon.
So, I advance with my best troops, along the bend in the river...
..and I attack the English from the rear, trapping them...
..and this is a glorious bloodbath.
So, Chas, you have dug this battlefield, haven't you?
-What have you found?
-We've found some amazing stuff.
These are bits of bone which we found at the layer
that we can date to the 11th century,
so from the time of the battle.
It's very unusual to find just random bits of bone in the soil
cos people are normally buried.
You do find the odd animal bone,
but these are human bone, almost certainly.
-These are probably rib bones.
So, you could be holding, in your hands,
the remains of someone who was killed in the battle here in 1066?
It's very probable.
Hardrada and Tostig were victorious.
The old Viking capital of York surrendered to them.
The great prize of England was within their grasp.
WILLIAM PRAYS IN LATIN
Meanwhile, William is still trapped.
With Harold marching north,
he knows that southern England lies open,
but the wind still blows,
as the Vikings take control in the north.
When William is stuck at St Valery by the contrary winds,
the Carmen comes into its own as a source
because not only is it really closely contemporary,
it is also local.
It's written by someone living in this part of the world,
so it is very well-informed,
and it tells us that William was in despair.
It talks about him looking at the weathercock of the church,
waiting to see the way the wind is going to blow,
and being reduced to tears.
The line that leaps out is...
HE READS IN LATIN
"The tears streaming down William's cheeks."
-HE READS IN LATIN
"You were in despair."
If ever I have offended you as your servant...
..give me a sign.
It's just for you, in your name...
..yet you send me torment.
A medieval English writer adds to the story.
William of Malmesbury tells us that
this was a moment when everything hung in the balance,
and that all of William's army began to doubt
that God was in favour of their enterprise.
And we're told that they began to mutter amongst themselves.
-He says here...
-SHE READS IN LATIN
"He is crazy, that man, who wants to subjugate a foreign land.
"God is against us because he withholds the wind."
William orders the relics of Saint Valery
to be paraded through the town
in a bid to inspire his wavering men...
..and, in a desperate plea to God, to change the weather.
But the northerly wind still blows.
Five days since the Vikings took York.
Hardrada and Tostig agree to exchange prisoners
with the vanquished English seven miles east of the city...
..at Stamford Bridge.
They're expecting a small group of unarmed men...
..but they're in for a shock.
Where are they from?
-It's my brother.
We don't know exactly when Harold left London to head to York.
We do think he was in the York area on the 24th of September.
Question is - how long it would have taken to cover that 200 miles.
Now, horses can travel 25 miles a day, perhaps more,
so it's possible that he made this journey
in around about seven or eight days.
One thing we know for sure is that Harold and his men went fast,
and that gave them their greatest weapon - surprise.
-Who else could it be?
-Get them ready! Get them up!
Not expecting Harold to travel north so quickly,
the Viking army is unprepared for battle.
The King of England. What a puny little man.
-He's a big man.
-Yeah, but he's old.
So, we are approaching the Vikings,
but the River Derwent stands in our way.
And there is this small wooden bridge,
-which we can use to cross over.
-Yeah, but we're not stupid.
We know the bridge is small and narrow.
It's a real bottleneck, which is why
I've sent one of my best men to defend it,
and he is not going to let anyone pass.
Legend has it that the lone Norwegian
heroically stood his ground on the bridge,
stopping the entire English army from crossing,
batting away spears and arrows.
But then, some cunning English soldiers got in a half barrel,
drifted down under the bridge
and killed the Norwegian with a spear thrust up between the legs.
OK, my man on the bridge might be dead, but, crucially,
he held up the English forces for long enough
that Tostig and I could arrange our troops into this shield wall.
This is an extremely strong defensive formation
and it's going to repel any English attacks.
Andy Deane is an expert on medieval warfare.
So, when those two armies met on this field in 1066,
how did they fight?
Well, you've got the two armies closing the front lines,
and it would be obvious who the warriors are.
The ones that stand out are the ones in the armour.
And if we look down here,
you've got a plethora of different pieces of kit -
the helmet, the armours, the swords, the shields, the axes.
And the way that it came together, famously, of course,
would probably be shield to shield.
Yeah, I have got to admit, this is tough.
My army are trying repeatedly to attack,
but, frustratingly, they can't get through the shield wall.
It holds firm.
But the Vikings had an Achilles heel.
Many had come to Stamford Bridge without a key piece of kit...
-Do you want to try it on?
Mail shirts, famously, are really, really good protection.
Roman auxiliaries are using it sort of throughout the antiquity,
and it's always been great.
-I feel like the Tin Man.
Once you put the helmet on and the mail coif that goes round you,
the shield and the various other bits of equipment,
then you become fairly impervious to most types of attack.
If I was to take a sword to you now,
and these swords are reasonably sharp...
Put your hands by your side for a second.
But if I was to basically draw this across you without the mail on...
..I mean, that would have opened you up to the bone.
The mortal effect would probably be the cleaving in,
-where we might be able to do...
-Go on. Give me a whack.
-Give me a whack.
-Well, I don't want to break your ribs.
-I'll give you a pat.
-So, the pat would be like that.
-Now, what that "oh" has done
has given you a moment where you've gone backwards.
And now I've already followed up
and brought the sword underneath your chin,
through your throat, into your brain and walked off.
OK. And then I'd have a shield, as well.
You can use it, obviously, for protecting, but,
of course, the moment you raise your arm,
you would naturally...come up.
So, now I can grab it, bring it down,
thrusting this into your groin at the same time,
-come over and thrust.
-I get the message!
And blood and horror everywhere.
There are no rules.
I will bite you, I will kick you, I will do anything to stay alive.
You just keep going.
Amid the chaos of swords and axes, Harold also has archers.
Hardrada's bid to take Harold's crown is over.
Tostig fights on at the head of the Viking force...
..but the English now have the upper hand.
King Harold had won an astounding victory.
It's said that he killed his rebellious brother himself,
cutting off Tostig's head.
But the bloodshed was so severe that, writing 50 years later,
the historian Orderic Vitalis
said that a great mountain of dead men's bones
still lay here on the battlefield.
The Battle of Stamford Bridge was a disaster for the Vikings.
There were so few Viking survivors
that only 24 of a fleet of 300 ships were needed to take them home.
This massive defeat
marked the beginning of the end for the Vikings.
From now on, their power would dwindle.
Harold remained King of England.
He'd killed a troublesome brother
and rid himself of one of his great rivals for the throne,
but another still remained,
over 300 miles away in northern France.
Two days after the Viking defeat...
At last. At last!
..and after more than seven weeks of waiting...
Thank you, Father.
..the winds finally change.
The Norman camp explodes with joy.
It's one of the best bits in the Carmen
that talks about the knights rushing to get their arms
and the sailors rushing to the masts
and hoisting the sails and grabbing their oars,
because they've been waiting for weeks and months
in the cold and the rain, and now, all of a sudden,
it's D-Day, game on, they're going to sail.
No more waiting.
That afternoon, at high tide, William sails.
700 ships and 14,000 men.
With Harold far away,
the Norman fleet heads for England's undefended southern coast.
One medieval French chronicler tells us that
on the proud William's ship there was a figurehead -
a wooden carving of a boy holding a copper bow and arrow.
That was now aimed at England.
With God and luck on his side,
William would expect to land on the English shore
the following morning.
The third attempt to conquer England in 1066
was about to begin.
Next time... SHOUTING
..two great armies face one another...
..and fight in a single day...
..for the heart and soul of England.