In 1066, on this day an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada of Norway defeated an English army under King Harold Godwinson at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire.
Battle of Stamford BridgeThe Anglo-Saxon Advisory Council known as the Witenagemot had no choice but to offer the English throne to Harold's estranged brother Tostig. He had only arrived in the country nineteen days before, landing in northern Yorkshire to fight the Earls of Mercia and Northumbria alongside Harald III Hardrada. At their meeting in Winchester, the wisemen foresaw that the worst case scenario was that England would be partitioned into areas of Anglo-Saxon and Viking interest with territory north of Leicestershire would be governed by the Danelaw.
But just three weeks later, the Normans landed unchallenged at Hastings in East Sussex and started marching northwards towards London. Their leader was William Duke of the Normans, a military genius who made imaginative use of the arrow, crossbowmen and light horse and he swept all before him. It was a bold tactic that neither the Anglo-Saxons nor the Vikings had an answer to because their common shield wall tactic proved ineffectual. It soon became clear that England would have a third monarch from a different ethnicity in the space of just one month.