Monday, October 20, 2008

Battle of Hastings (1066) - A Re-enactment

Ask any English what's the most important date in English history and they'll invariable tell you it's.... er, no guys, it's not 1966 but 1066. That's when Duke of Normandy trumped over English army led by King Harold in the Battle of Hastings. That was also the last successful invasion ever upon the English isles. Well, Napoleon and Hitler (much later) did try with disastrous results.


Anyway, for two days every year, a re-enactment of the battle is held at precise site where almost 16,000 troops (a massive number of soldiers at that time) fought hand to hand for hours to no end. If not for the fact that King Harold was slain - many believed by an arrow through his eye, the English army, which is made entirely of infantry, might have won the day as reinforcements were expected to arrive the very next day.

Battle-of-HastingsA small town has since sprung up in the vicinity of the historical battlefield. Battle, which the town was conveniently named, came to life when hundreds of history buffs and blood thirsty tourists spoiling for a good fight descended onto the town.

What's interesting is not just the battle - the organizers have thoughtfully sought to recreate an entire pre-medieval experience with butchers, woodcutters, tradesmen and even a tent selling ale. In fact, visitors are strongly encouraged to dressed the part as well and many actually did!

The merchandise were selling quite well too. By the time the armies were formed up and the 'Duke' in his red cape was rallying his troops, there were many children among the spectators who were better armed than King Harold's infantry.

Instead of 16,000 troops, there were at max 200-300 volunteers donning chainmails, leather armour with swords, two handed swords, axes, spears and colourful kite and round shields. Instead of 2,200 calvary, the Duke have with him a dozen of rather menacing looking knights.

As the time of the battle draws near, the army began getting into formation and trading insults. King Harold's troops after battling the Vikings were tired with the forced marching... well, with those heavy chain mails, who could have blamed them.

Battle-of-HastingsThe Duke, on the other hand was busy riding through his army ranks with his blond flops (made famous by Huge Grant) waving in the winds as his horse galloped. Finally at long last the armies decided to rush against each other and battle cries engulfed the area just as it did nearly 900 years ago.

Well, the crowds (predominantly English, of course) did their best to cheer on the English King but history dictated that he must be struck down and he was. Though the English infantry valiantly tried to hold their ranks against the charging Normandy cavalry, they eventually broke through and it was a massacre.

Who says that history has to be boring anyway? Read more about Battle of Hastings!

Read also...
A trebuchet demonstration - Tower of London

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Dutchie said...

Every summer for 10 thursdays (market day)our local heritage club organizes a costumed parade with horse & carriages, as an insight of life in the 18th century. It is also an event to promote tourism in this area. At first it was fun to be part of the buzz while we milled around the marketplace but it's less fun when u noticed the price of evey store going up ! I hv since avoided going there during the tourist rush.

"Land of Ever" is a park with charming warriors n noblemen. It's educational, esp for kids to grasp a bit of reality of life in those dark ages :-)

We hv visited forts n castles here n in France. UK has more to offer. We hv a small collection of books bought on site while in Pembroke n Edinburgh.

Lastly, Dicken's Christmas is becoming the selling theme in some towns - costumed characters singing the carols in a mocked-up town of that period. With snow falling, it does give quite an atmosphere n I was half expecting to see Ebenezer Scrooge popping out of the windows n giving us a shout !

C K said...

That sounds like real fun! I mean, we don't actually get such 're-enactment' back in S'pore so it seems like a great deal to me. I would think that the Europeans and the Americans would be less enthusiastic about it.

The Dicken's Chrismas sounds like fun. Too bad that we don't get snow in London. Well, we were thinking of dropping by some of the Christmas markets in Germany. Any recommendation?

Dutchie said...

Aha ! R they promoting German Xmas market in the UK then ? If so, by all means pick one with a coach tour. It will be fun to mingle n hv a taste of German snacks n do some Xmas shopping as well. Boris Becker n other celebs do make an appearance to boost sales in his hometown of Dusseldorf ! Happy hunting :-)

A few UK Ferries r offering shopping trips to London & Newcastle. Xmas gifts r unknown here, so I hv no need to shop for them. Besides, Harrods must be packed with shoppers !

C K said...

You wouldn't believe it. Just the other day, Harrods employed a singer, who has a really fantastic voice I must say, to sing from one of the many balconies within Harrods itself. It was a real treat for the shoppers!

Anyway, there're no promotions thus far but if the English admit that the German Christmas are way better, I think it should be quite good.

over here, there'll be a mad rush for gifts two weeks before Christmas. Unless you're exceptionally courageous, you wouldn't want to venture near Oxford/Regent Street then.