Hastings, Battle of, or Battle of Senlac, October 14, 1066, the decisive battle of the Norman conquest of England. The battle took place near Hastings, a town on the English Channel in East Sussex. The victory of William, Duke of Normandy, in this, the last successful invasion of England by foreigners, enabled him to establish a feudal dynasty and rule as William I, “the Conqueror.”
William claimed the English throne in January, 1066, on the death of Edward the Confessor. He landed at Pevensey on September 28 and marched eastward to Hastings. King Harold II, who had succeeded Edward, was in Yorkshire, where his Anglo-Saxon army routed Norwegian invaders on September 25 in the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Harold proceeded south to fight William. Harold's weary army encamped on the hill of Senlac, overlooking Hastings, on the night of October 13.
The battle began the next morning. William had perhaps 2,000 mounted knights and 3,000 foot soldiers and archers, while Harold's army may have been slightly larger, all infantry armed with axes and spears. A charge by Norman infantry and archers was easily thrown back, and a cavalry attack failed to dent the English line. In mid-afternoon, the Normans pretended to retreat. Contrary to orders, Harold's left wing streamed down the hill in a disorderly mass, and was promptly routed. The remaining Anglo-Saxons stubbornly held their ground against deadly assaults until Harold was killed at twilight.
William proceeded cautiously toward London. He was crowned at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066.