The Battle of London 1066

The Battle of London 1066

By Peter Mills

London Archaeologist, Vol.8:3 (1996)

Introduction: By the end of Saturday 14th October 1066 William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy and claimant to the English throne, was the victor of the Battle of Hastings. Some 5,000 Saxon and Norman troops lay dead and the English had fled the field. However, William was aware that complete victory and the crown were not yet within his grasp. Two of the most powerful Saxon lords, the Earls Edwin and Morcar, had not been present at the battle and English ships could easily cut off his communications with Normandy. Furthermore, London had yet to be seized.

Some Saxon magnates hoped that London could be held and another army raised in the name of Edgar the Aetheling, last of the Saxon royal line. William knew that London must be taken to secure the kingdom, but was circumspect about making a direct assault on the City. He rested his men for five days then started an indirect but menacing approach.

First, he headed east to the small town of Romney where he “imposed a punishment” then marched on Dover, which surrendered without a struggle. Having secured his southern flank William turn north-west, marching along the old Roman road to Canterbury. He had hardly begun his approach when a deputation met him,gave him hostages and swore allegiance to him. His advance was delayed for a month by about of dysentery but even from his sick bed William extracted the submission of Winchester and obtained control of the royal treasury there.

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