At the Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 25, 1066, Harold, the King of England, defeated his brother Tostig and the Norwegian King Harald. Although Harold&rsquos 15,000 man force won a decisive victory as both enemy leaders died in battle, he lost up to 5,000 troops. As a result, he was significantly weakened and ultimately suffered defeat at the Battle of Hastings soon afterward Harold died in that battle.
The Battle of Stamford Bridge is also known as the scene of one of the greatest one-man stands ever seen on a battlefield. The Norse army was stunned by the sudden arrival of Harold&rsquos Saxon forces and was completely unprepared. Harald of Norway tried to regroup and form a defensive line to give his men a fighting chance. A flimsy wooden bridge was all that stood between the Saxons and the vulnerable Norse army. One giant Norse berserker manned the bridge and dared the enemy to charge they did and met death via the defender&rsquos ax and sword.
Dozens of Saxon warriors tried to get past the Berserker, but they all failed as he killed at least 40 of them single-handedly. He apparently held his ground for almost an hour long enough for his fellow Vikings to regroup. Alas, he did not see a clever Saxon who rowed to the bottom of the bridge and emerged to stab the berserker in the groin.
The great warrior&rsquos sacrifice was in vain as the Saxons stormed the bridge and defeated the Viking army. King Harald of Norway died via an arrow to the throat, and with the loss at Stamford Bridge, the influence of the Vikings on the British Crown died. Despite their defeat, the legend of the Berserker lives on as for a brief period the mighty Saxon army was defied by a single man.
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Their already spiky mood was not improved by various interviews given in the lead-up to the match in which Chelsea players said they were looking to get one over on their city rivals and help Leicester win the league.
"For different reasons, we arrived at that game in a very sensitive moment," Pochettino would go on to explain. "We were very aggressive in all that was happening. It was a special moment, very special. Out of context, we can say, 'Why did Tottenham behave like this?'. But with all the context, in that moment, I think it was normal."
A cautionary tale
Not that you would have known anything untoward was about to unfold, though, with the visitors racing into a dominant two-goal lead as half-time approached thanks to well-taken strikes from Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son.
Until that point, Spurs defenders Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen were the only players to have been booked, but all that was about to change as the game entered injury-time at the end of the first half.
It was Danny Rose's late challenge on Willian right in front of the dugouts which was the catalyst to a mass brawl that saw, of all people, Mousa Dembele eye-gouge Chelsea striker Diego Costa.
By that point, even Spurs head coach Pochettino had entered the fray after running onto the pitch to try to separate Rose and Willian, something the Argentinian later admitted was an error of judgement.
"I was involved in the game and I forgot my thoughts," Pochettino said after the match. "It was a mistake. I cannot go onto the pitch."
Rose himself was lucky not to see red for his tackle on Chelsea's Brazilian forward - "The linesman has bottled the decision there, he [Rose] should have been sent off," was Jamie Carragher's assessment at the time on Sky Sports - but it laid the groundwork for a feisty second half.
The two players in question were both cautioned, taking the total of first-half yellows to four, with eight more to come after half-time - including in total a record-breaking nine for the north London club - as substitute Eden Hazard inspired the hosts' fightback to draw 2-2.
'I allowed them to self-destruct'
Incredibly, however, there were no red cards issued by referee Mark Clattenburg, despite Erik Lamela deliberately treading on Cesc Fabregas' hand and Eric Dier cleaning out Hazard late on.
"It was theatre," Clattenburg later recalled. "I went in with a gameplan: that I didn't want Tottenham Hotspur blaming Mark Clattenburg that they were losing the title. There should have been three red cards to Tottenham.
"I allowed them to self-destruct so all the media, all the people in the world went, 'Tottenham lost the title'.
"If I sent three players off from Tottenham, what are the headlines?, 'Clattenburg cost Tottenham the title'. It was pure theatre that Tottenham self-destructed against Chelsea and Leicester won the title."
However, the final whistle - which confirmed the end of Spurs' title challenge - brought more ugly altercations as the two teams headed down the tunnel, with the visitors' back-up goalkeeper Michel Vorm and Costa going at it, before Vertonghen also became involved in a heated touchline row.
Even Chelsea's mild-mannered boss Guus Hiddink found himself involved after being knocked into the dugout area during the melee, although the 69-year-old Dutchman saw the funny side to it, joking: "Even at my age, I had no problem falling down!"
What they said…
"It was a London derby we hadn't lost in 26 years," Chelsea captain John Terry said at full-time.
"It was always going to boil over. A couple of times it got out of hand but players are fighting for points and titles. It's emotions - that's football."
Meanwhile, former top-flight referee Dermot Gallagher thought the clash was the hardest he had ever seen to officiate in the Premier League era.
"I think that's the toughest game I've seen in 24 years for a referee," he said. "That was a tough, tough test. The referee realised the stakes, realised the emotions and everything. I think he's tried to referee the occasion.
"To end up with 12 yellow cards in a match is really extraordinary. He's tried to stand back and let the players play the game and he's at the behest of the players then, but the players didn't buy into what he wanted to do. That's why he came in really, really tough at the end."
What happened next?
The Football Association charged both clubs with three breaches of failing to control their players, with Spurs hit with a 𧶙,000 fine - on top of a 㿅,000 penalty for collecting six bookings in the game - while Chelsea were fined 𧸯,000 having had more previous misdemeanours.
Dembele, who also should have been sent off, was subsequently handed a six-match ban for his attack on Costa which spilled into the following campaign.
"It was a very emotional game and you react to things," he said three weeks later.
"Now I have to learn from this. My intention was not to do something bad to him. It is not in my character to be so emotional. I'm disappointed about the six-game ban, but I know they want to give a message. I will move on. Hopefully we can keep the passion but do it better. We can be proud of ourselves and take the positives into next season."
As for Spurs themselves, Pochettino's team - who had fought all season long for that elusive first top-flight title in more than 50 years - would go on to lose their final two league games to Southampton and Newcastle and somehow finish the season behind arch-rivals Arsenal in third.
All of which sets things up nicely for their Super Sunday showdown as Chelsea once again look to spoil Tottenham's party…
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Era: Dark Ages.
These small engagements in Yorkshire in 1453 and 1454 respectively set the stage for the War of the Roses – that most bitter struggle for supremacy in England.
This fascinating article is a guest post by the talented young historian from Yorkshire: Catherine Warr. Check out her YouTube channel for superb history videos and support her on Facebook.
I know what you’re thinking. You’ve probably never heard of the Battle of Heworth. In which case, that’s good – because I’m going to tell you about it. Also, the Battle of Stamford Bridge isn’t the one you’re thinking about. These two battles form just a part of one of the biggest family feuds in the Wars of the Roses: the Percy-Neville feud. This contained everything you could possibly want in a Medieval dynastic rivalry attempted murder, plotting, a ruthless hunger for power, and a long-standing hatred of each other which nobody really understood why it existed but, like football rivalries, it had been going on for so long that people just carried on anyway. The events of this rivalry would shape the Wars of the Roses, and, what’s more, a lot of it happened right here in Yorkshire.
Because this period is quite complicated, it gets very confusing to have a lot of names thrown at you – especially when there’s about 16 people all called the same – so I’m going to try keep it very simple so it’s easy to understand. If you want a more detailed history of the feud, the authoritative account is Ralph Griffith’s Local Rivalries and National Politics: The Percies, the Nevilles, and the Duke of Exeter, 1452-55, but as that is extremely detailed and may be quite long and confusing for some people, I’m providing a brief and simplified version of the story here.
Both the Percy and the Neville families had been hugely important since the Norman Conquest and owned vast amounts of land in Northern England and the Scottish borders. Because they were both so powerful in a relatively small area, a jealous rivalry and competition was somewhat inevitable, and though we don’t know the precise reasons why they had a rivalry with each other, it seems to be a mix of the typical resentment, political wrangling, and desire for land and power which was common at that time.
Things start to heat up – Enter: Maud Stanhope.
Whilst there were some rumblings of discontent before the 1450s, things really started heating up in 1453. The problem was that, whilst both families were related to each other and had maintained some level of cooperation, there were a lot of young men with something to prove, and as a result the rivalry grew into a campaign of tit-for-tat property damage and assault Percies and Nevilles would break and enter into each other’s houses across Yorkshire, and it got so serious that the heads of each family were ordered by the king’s council to stop their sons’ behaviour. They refused, and things escalated.
The key spark for the battles was this: Thomas Neville was going to marry Maud Stanhope, who was the niece and heir of Ralph Cromwell. Cromwell owned land in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, particularly Wressle in East Yorkshire. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that these lands had once belonged to the Percy family. To have a Neville now in possession through marriage of what was once Percy land was abominable, especially to one member of the Percy family in particular – Thomas Percy, 1 st Baron of Egremont. He is described by Griffiths as “quarrelsome, violent and contemptuous of all authority”, which gives you some idea of his character. But I digress. He was well and truly fuming, and he and his followers decided to ambush the Nevilles as they returned from the wedding – yes, you guessed it, it’s the Red Wedding. Though perhaps not as bloody.
Known as the Battle of Heworth, in August 1453 the Neville family were returning from the wedding at Cromwell’s castle in Lincolnshire. As they approached their family stronghold at Sheriff Hutton near York, they were ambushed by Thomas Percy, who had at least 700 followers with him. Many key members of the Neville family were there, including the newly wed couple and Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, the head of the family and one of the most important figures in the Wars of the Roses. Basically, there could have been a total destruction of the family – if the Percies had succeeded. However, although we don’t know how many men the Nevilles had, or even what happened in the battle, we do know that they managed to reach Sheriff Hutton safely. How different history would have turned out if they hadn’t!
U.S. watchdog warns of pending coronavirus disaster in Afghanistan
Posted On May 04, 2020 06:05:09
A watchdog report to the U.S. Congress has warned that Afghanistan is likely to face a health disaster in the coming months brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The April 30 report by the U.S. Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has heightened concerns that the pandemic could derail stalled peace efforts brokered by the United States.
The spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has significantly impacted Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan’s numerous and, in some cases, unique vulnerabilities — a weak health-care system, widespread malnutrition, porous borders, massive internal displacement, contiguity with Iran, and ongoing conflict — make it likely the country will confront a health disaster in the coming months,” the report concludes.
The pandemic has forced the closure of border crossings, disrupting commercial and humanitarian deliveries.
SIGAR, which monitors billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan by the United States, warns that rising food prices are likely to worsen as the crisis continues.
Afghanistan has confirmed nearly 2,200 coronavirus cases and 64 deaths, according to local news reports quoting the Afghan Health Ministry.
Taliban militants fighting U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan signed a deal with Washington in February — raising hopes that formal peace talks between the militants and Afghanistan’s central government could start soon.
The Taliban committed to severing ties with terrorists and preventing terrorists from using territory under its control to launch attacks against the United States or its allies, including the Afghan government.
In exchange for those guarantees, the United States agreed to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by July 2021.
Since signing the deal, Taliban militants have escalated attacks on Afghan security forces.
Last week, the Taliban rejected a proposal by the Afghan government for a cease-fire during the holy month of Ramadan.
The latest SIGAR report said the international coalition has declined to make data available for public release about the number of Taliban attacks launched during the first three months of 2020.
It was the first time publication of the data has been held back since 2018 when SIGAR began using the information to track levels and locations of violence, the report said.
SIGAR said the coalition justified holding back the information because it is now part of internal U.S. government deliberations on negotiations with the Taliban.
Peace talks are supposed to begin after the Afghan government releases some 5,000 Taliban prisoners from custody.
In return, the Taliban also is supposed to release about 1,000 Afghan troops and civilian government employees it is holding.
As of April 27, the Afghan government had freed nearly 500 Taliban prisoners, while the militant group had released about 60 of its captives.
This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.
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Despite the lone Viking’s efforts, the battle was a decisive victory for Harold.
The lone Viking’s last stand was seemingly Harold’s biggest obstacle in the battle. Overall the victory proved Harold to be an able commander, while his troops – particularly the housecarls – proved themselves highly skilled.
The victory at Stamford Bridge will forever be linked to Harold’s defeat at the Battle of Hastings, which took place less than three weeks later. Had Harold not been forced to leave William’s landing in the south unopposed, later facing him with an army that had suffered losses and was stricken by fatigue, then the outcome could have been very different.
Against the Odds
Number of defenders: An army of 6,000 approx – whittled down to just one
Number of attackers: Between 10,000-12,000 men
Attacking advantage: Harold’s army took the Viking invaders by surprise with greater numbers, mostly mounted on horseback.
Defending disadvantage: The Vikings had removed protective clothing in the heat and are thought to have divided, thus weakening their ranks.
King Harold II, the Saxon king of Britain, beholds the body of his rebellious brother Tostig
Stamford Bridge is one of the oldest football grounds in the country and has been the home of Chelsea Football Club since our formation in 1905.
Stamford Bridge opened as a sporting arena on 28 April 1877. For the first 27 years of its existence it was used almost exclusively for the traditionally popular Victorian pursuit of athletics meetings by the London Athletic Club.
In 1904 the ownership of the modest ground changed hands when Mr Henry Ausgustus (Gus) Mears and his brother, Mr J T Mears, obtained the deeds, having previously acquired additional land (formerly a large market garden) with the aim of hosting a newer sport they had fallen in love with - football - which had swept the north of England and the Midlands and was growing in interest rapidly in the capital city.
The new arena they commissioned on the 12.5 acre site was designed by renowned Scottish football stadium architect Archibald Leitch (as were many others across the land) and included a characteristic feature of his work in the 120-yard long stand on the east side to hold 5000 spectators, complete with a pedimented centre gable on the roof,
The other sides formed a vast, open bowl with thousands of tons of material excavated from the building of the Piccadilly Line underground railway supporting the high terracing for standing spectators..
The capacity was originally planned to be 100,000 and was the second largest in country behind a decaying Crystal Palace stadium in south London - at the time the FA Cup final venue.
Initially the stadium was offered to nearby Fulham FC to play there. They turned down the chance and so instead a new side, Chelsea Football Club, was born in March 1905 and moved into the new Stamford Bridge stadium for the start of the season a few months later.
It was quickly a success with a 60,000 crowd in the first year, promotion to Football League Division One after two, and three FA Cup finals held there between 1920 and 1922.
Why is it called Stamford Bridge?
The name Stamford Bridge is one with great significance in English history, having been the site in Yorkshire of a succesful battle against the Vikings in 1066, immediately prior to defeat by the Normans at the Battle of Hastings.
However the naming of Chelsea Football Club's stadium is all about local landmarks rather than conquest from abroad.
On 18th-Century maps showing the Fulham Road and King's Road area there is a stream called 'Stanford Creek' which runs along the route of the present-day railway line behind the East Stand. It flowed down into the Thames.
Where the stream crosses the Fulham Road it is marked 'Little Chelsea Bridge' which was originally called Sanford Bridge (from sand ford), while a bridge over the stream on the King's Road was called Stanbridge (from stone bridge). It seems that these two bridge names and that of the stream, 'Stanford Creek', together evolved into the name Stanford Bridge, which again later changed into Stamford Bridge, to become the adopted name of the stadium close by.
A bridge taking the Fulham Road over a railway line remains in place today, close to the main Stamford Gate entrance to the stadium site.
After its creation, the stadium remained largely unchanged in appearance until the 1930s when the southern terrace gained a partial covering – a curious structure which would later lead to the nickname the ‘Shed End’.
Ironically, for a name that would become famous in football, the asymmetrical roofing was erected for another sport. Covering roughly a fifth of the terrace area, and designed by the original Stamford Bridge architect Archibald Leitch, it was commissioned by the Greyhound Racing Association who for many decades held dog races on the track that enclosed the pitch. They wanted cover for the bookmakers and their betting customers.
Some 30 years after the structure’s appearance, a letter published in the Chelsea matchday programme from supporter Cliff Webb called for the Fulham Road End of the ground to be known as ‘The Shed’, and for more fans to join a vocal gathering there in order to rival the home end support at other grounds. His requests bore fruit and the stand at the south end which opened to replace the old terrace in 1997 still bears the Shed name today.
In 1939, the north end of Stamford Bridge gained an addition too, and it was also unusually architecturally. There was a pressing need for more covered seating in addition to the original East Stand, so a new construction was commissioned and started in 1939, Archibald Leitch again involved in the design process.
Adjacent to the East Stand, its building was disrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War but when it was opened in 1945, supporters now had the option of sitting in a tier that was raised on stilts over the north-east corner of the existing standing terrace.
Some who used it even reported it shook when trains passed by on the track close behind, but it survived for 30 years until pulled down with the opening of a huge, new East Stand. The now-completely-open-again north terrace remained in use until 1993 when the move to an all-seater Stamford Bridge began in earnest.
In the space of a decade and almost bookending one of Chelsea’s most successful periods, Stamford Bridge acquired new stands along both sides of the pitch.
During the course of 1965, agreement to build, planning and construction of a West Stand took place, ultimately a fairly modest affair seating just over 6,000 fans on what was a reshaping of the old, vast terracing on that side of the stadium. There was a roof, although one supported by pillars in an age when other grounds were building cantilevered stands without, and an area of terracing remained along the front which later also sat supporters on what became known as ‘The Benches’.
At the rear were six rudimentary hospitality boxes, making the Bridge the second ground in the land after Old Trafford to offer such facilities. With floodlights having arrived in 1957, big, glamorous European nights were among the order of the day.
With the West Stand and the team of the day a success, and the original East Stand over 60 years old and moribund, the thoughts of the then Chelsea directors turned ambitiously towards a complete redevelopment of Stamford Bridge into a stunning, 60,000 all-covered, all-seater arena beginning with the east side. That is as far as it got.
The new project was ill-timed as well as burdened by poor decisions, including appointing architects with no experience in stadium design. The impact of attendances dipping was not considered either. Britain's economy hit relegation form in the early 1970s, with a building strike among many delays to the construction, and the new stand was delivered late and over-budget. Combined with a decline in results on the pitch, that brought the club to its knees, leading to the sale of star players, relegation and a close encounter with bankruptcy.
When it opened in 1974, the East Stand’s striking design was not to everyone’s taste and it loomed large over the rest of the stadium, but it brought fans closer to the pitch than ever before, covering the old dog track, and sightlines from the middle and ultra-steep upper tier are superb. In time, recovery on and off the pitch arrived and the stand melded well into the rebuilt stadium where it remains as the oldest part today.
With Chelsea Football Club virtually bankrupt and stuck in Division Two in the early 1980s, it was bought by businessman Ken Bates, ending the long Mears dynasty. However as part of the ownership change, the stadium became owned by a separate company and former club directors sold shares in that to property developers.
Chelsea had an initial right to continue playing at the Bridge but now faced a fight to remain long-term, with the spectre of housing or a supermarket there instead and the team sharing with the likes of Fulham or QPR horrifying fans.
A bitter, expensive and close-run 10-year battle ensued, which put any further ground development on hold and gave birth to a ‘Save the Bridge’ campaign to raise money for legal costs.
A collapse in the property market came to our aid and with an ironic twist it was the developers who were forced into bankruptcy, and in 1992 Chelsea Football Club got our ground back.
It was a close shave at times but Stamford Bridge had survived and in 1993, the process of turning a dilapidated ground with views far from the pitch into one of the most impressive stadiums in the country began, with Bates also introducing the Chelsea Pitch Owners scheme to protect the club from any such threat in the future.
The rebuilding of Stamford Bridge into the current stadium advanced with the redevelopment of the North Stand area. All-seater stadiums were now the requirement across the upper divisions of English football and the old semi-circular terrace that came to house away fans only was demolished
A new, two-tier stand to house home supporters was opened at that end in November 1994 and was renamed two years later as the Matthew Harding Stand, in memory of the Chelsea vice-chairman killed in a helicopter accident whose financial loan helped greatly with its building. A wraparound to join to the west side was later added and the stand remains home for many of the most vocal Chelsea fans.
Next in the redevelopment queue was the Shed End. The old home terrace last saw action on the final day of the 1993/94 league season, to be replaced with temporary seating for a couple of years before work began on a seated Shed End stand. At the same time an adjoining four-star hotel, flats and an underground car park were constructed.
The final piece of the new Stamford Bridge story had one more hurdle to overcome. The lower tier of the new West stand was built on schedule but then problems with the local council over planning permission meant a two-year delay before the rest of the stand could be built.
Finally that last battle was won and work began on completing the biggest part of the stadium, the huge 13,500 seater with many boxes, function halls and suites for all-year use. In was ready for the start of 2001/02 campaign and marked, at last, the completion of an all-seater Stamford Bridge which had begun way back in 1973 with the start of the East Stand.
The current capacity stands at just over 41,000 and the ground has gone from being a huge oval shape to one with all four sides close to the pitch. There is almost no part of the current stadium that hasn't markedly changed in recent years with only the huge old Shed wall remaining from the original stadium. It be can be seen outside of the current ground, opposite the Megastore and box office.
As well as all the work on the stadium itself, much of the remaining 12.5 acre site has seen building work, with two four-star hotels, restaurants, conference and banqueting facilities, an underground car park, a health club, a music venue and business centre all added.
Stamford Bridge has come a long, long way since the original athletics venue was first opened in 1877, as can be seen in the video below, which is one of many features telling the Chelsea FC story in the club's extensive and exciting Museum.
Battle of Stamford Bridge – The Victory that Lost England for the Anglo-Saxons
Following the death of King Edward the Confessor, the throne of England became a trophy coveted by several contenders across north-western Europe.
This occasion would set the stage for Anglo-Saxon King, Harold Godwinson against his vitriolic brother, Tostig Godwinson and the fierce Norwegian King, Harald Hardrada, in a quest for vengeance, and ownership of the empty throne—an episode of cascading bloodshed which preluded the battle of Hastings and ultimately, the end of over 500 years of Anglo-Saxon rule.
Edward the Confessor, King of England. Photo: Wellcome Collection gallery / CC BY 4.0
On 5 th January 1066, the death of King Edward the Confessor was announced. He had been in a coma since late 1065 and had failed to clarify his choice for the succession of the throne after living a life of childlessness, thereby leaving England without an heir.
Harold Godwinson was the next day (January 6 th ) appointed king over England by Witenagemot, the ultra-prominent Anglo-Saxon council of Nobles. His appointment was based on a rather ambiguous charge made by King Edward during his brief moments of consciousness before his death wherein he seemed to have commended his wife and the kingdom into the care of his brother-in-law, Harold.
King Harold Godwinson
But this was not to go without hassles as several other claimants surged from across North and Western Europe in a bid to assume the throne. The main contenders were William—Duke of Normandy,—Edgar Etheling, and Harald Hardrada.
Anglo-Saxon and British Kingdoms around the beginning of the 9th century.
Godwinson had seen William as his main threat and had mounted his army on the south coast of England in anticipation of an invasion from William.
William was said to have been livid because Godwinson had made a pledge to him after being rescued—by William—from the hands of Count Guy of Ponthieu.
King William I (‘The Conqueror’).
According to him, Godwinson had been captured after his ship was wrecked on the coast of Ponthieu, and after being rescued, had sworn an oath to support William in his assumption of the throne once the time was due. So by usurping England’s throne albeit with the support of the Witenagemot, Godwinson had broken an oath and enraged the Norman.
Godwinson’s army was made up of well-trained, paid soldiers known as Huscarls, and the Fryds who were regular men called upon to fight for the king in crucial times.
Harold swearing oath on holy relics to William, Duke of Normandy.
He waited all summer for William’s troops, but they were not forthcoming. So he chose to send the Fryds back to their families while he stayed at London with his navy. Unbeknownst to him, there was darkness brewing, — a thick, dark cloud floating like a preying hawk towards Northern England.
A swarming horde of Viking warriors, led by King Harald Hardrada set sail from Norway. With about 300 ships sweeping through the river Ouse, they made their first stop at York. Meanwhile, Tostig Godwinson, who was once the Earl of Northumbria, harboring dark intentions against his brother for not supporting him in events that led to his exile, had further fortified Hardrada’s army of about 7000 men with additional troops.
Reconstructed 11th Century Viking Ship – Sumdge 9000 CC BY 2.0
Together, the marauding army struck and defeated a northern English army in the Battle of Fulford, defeating Edwin, the Earl of Mercia, and his brother Morca, then the Earl of Northumbria on the 20 th day of September 1066.
Battle of Fulford
Following this victory, they seized York and everything within its walls. The Vikings offered peace to the Northumbrians only on the condition that they would pledge their loyalty and support for Hardrada. To ensure their full support, Hardrada ordered that alongside other supplies, more hostages should be sent from Yorkshire to him at Stamford Bridge.
On the South coast, the news of Hardrada’s arrival and the damage already done hit Harold like a whirlwind.
Painting of Harald Hardrada from the 13th Century.
He swiftly rallied his Huscarls and as many Thegns as possible and made for Yorkshire. He rode day and night, covering about 185 miles from London to Yorkshire in just four days, a quite remarkable feat in history.
He arrived at Tadcaster on September 24 th in a bid to launch hostilities on the Norwegian Vikings who were rendezvousing with suppliers at Stamford Bridge. The swiftness of his arrival was completely unanticipated by the Norwegians and they were taken by surprise.
Anglo-Saxon Battle of Stamford Bridge
Many of the Norwegian fighters had left their amour in their ships and were completely helpless when fluttering banners and gleaming steel of the English army appeared seemingly from nowhere.
Godwinson’s army stormed the invaders with full force, crashing into a small Viking camp on the west part of River Derwent. The Vikings were in complete disarray, scampering to the other side of the bridge to join the rest of the army, in a bid to regroup and launch a counter attack.
Viking warriors in a reenactment.
Many of these warriors would not make it and Godwinson’s army cut the Vikings down. Then they advanced beyond the bridge, engaging the rest of the Norwegian army.
The English were held up while they tried to get past the bridge to attack the Vikings formations. A giant Norse warrior was said to have stood at the narrow crossing, swinging his large axe with fury, unyielding in his position.
Hardrada at Stamford Bridge.
Godwinson’s men tried to get him out of the way, but it is said that he fought with the “might of a hundred soldiers”, slaying forty fighters with his axe, after holding them up for hours, he finally fell to the overwhelming strikes of the fighters.
After hours and hours of intense fighting, Godwinson’s army was the only one left standing. Hardrada and Tostig had both been killed in the battle, alongside about 6000 Vikings. Out of the 300 ships that brought the Norse army, only about 25 returned to Norway.
Coin of King Harold Godwinson
Nevertheless, Godwinson lost about 5000 men in the battle.
Now, with the fall of Hardrada and the rescue of York, Godwinson threw a banquet in York to celebrate his victory. However, the banquet would be cut short by news of William’s arrival at Pevensey Bay.
Major events in the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century. – Amitchell125 CC BY 3.0
He quickly rallied up his men for yet another battle, riding to meet his biggest challenger in what would be known as The Battle of Hastings.
The Battle of Stamford Bridge
Saxons under Harold, King of England vs. Norwegians under Harald Hardrada and Earl Tostig.
When Edward the Confessor died he left no direct heir, and the throne of England passed to Harold of Wessex. Harold's brother Tostig influenced the legendary Viking warrior, King Harald Hardrada of Norway to invade England.
While a second claimant to the throne of England, William of Normandy, laboured to launch his own invasion fleet, the Norwegians sailed by way of the Orkneys and landed at Riccall, near York with a force probably numbering 10,000 men.
Harold had been well aware of the dual threats to his new kingdom, and he called out his levies. These were free men from the shires who owed two months of military service each year. By September the two months were up and rations were low, so Harold reluctantly released these irregular troops.
This left him with a trained force of about 3000 mounted infantry known as house-carls. When the news came of the Norwegian landing, Harold quickly marched his men north by the old Roman road known as Watling Street.
The Earls of Northumbria and Mercia, Morcar and Edwin, advanced their men from York and met Harald Hardrada at Fulford on September 20. The experienced Norwegian commander completely routed the earls, depriving King Harold of valuable allies for the fatal battle with the Normans which lay ahead.
The Norsemen appointed Stamford Bridge as a meeting place for an exchange of hostages with the city of York. The confident victors of Fulford were relaxing in the meadows surrounding this crossroads 12 miles from York when to their shock they saw a fresh Saxon army streaming up from the South.
Well, perhaps "fresh" is too strong a word, for Harold had just pushed his men an amazing 180 miles in four days, and they were doubtless exhausted. The Norsemen were caught completely off-guard most had discarded their mail shirts and helmets in the hot sun. They were soon to pay for their carelessness.
A desperate delaying action by the Norwegian outposts kept the Saxons from crossing the Derwent while the main army frantically donned their gear and took up position. One anonymous Norwegian held the bridge alone until he was stabbed from beneath the planks of the bridge with a long spear.
The Norse formed a shield wall in the shape of a triangle, to present a narrow front. The Saxons battered at the wall in a fierce hand to hand fight that lasted all day before the legendary Harald Hardrada was felled by a Saxon missile. Earl Tostig tried vainly to rally the demoralized men, but the Norse resistance crumbled and the battle became a rout.
The Vikings fled, to be pursued all the way back to their fleet at Riccall. Only 24 ships out of an initial 200 or more made the return to Norway. Before the battle, Harold swore that the Norse leader would get "only seven feet of English soil" for his invasion, and he kept the vow, though Harald's remains were later taken back to Norway. As for Tostig, he was buried in York.
Stamford Bridge ended the long Viking threat to England. Although Stamford Bridge was a great triumph for Harold and the Saxons, their strength was sadly depleted by the fight. And now they faced an even greater foe as news arrived that Duke William of Normandy had landed in Sussex. The weary Saxons turned south once more and marched back as quickly as they had come. They met the Normans at the fateful Battle of Hastings.