King Harold of England defeated the first of the armies he faced in the eventful year of 1066.
The Battle of Stamford Bridge
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
September 25, 1066
Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire
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, labored 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.
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