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Battle of Hastings Recruiting

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October 14th of the year 1066 two armies faced each other near the town of Hastings. 10,000 Norman troops under the command of William of Normandy faced 8,000 Anglo-Saxon soldiers led by Harold the current king of England.

Geoffrey Parker, Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare (Cambridge: 1995), pp. 82-3. Harold's 8,000 men consisted of Housecarls, the local Fyrd, and local village volunteers.

David Howarth, 1066: The Year of the Conquest (New York: 1977),pp.170-1 The two armies clashed on that day and history tells us the outcome. But what forces go into creating an army of these sizes? The three main Anglo-Saxon troop types will be defined and the forces that created them will be examined below.

Three troop types would fight for the Anglo-Saxons the Housecarls, the Fyrd, and local peasantry. The Housecarls were professional soldiers under the service of the King and the Earls of the Kingdom. Harold used the Housecarls of the King and his Housecarls of his Earldom of Wessex. He also used the Housecarls of his two brothers. The Fyrd was a volunteer citizen army provided by the Thanes of the kingdom. The local peasants fought to protect their homes.

David Howarth, 1066: The Year of the Conquest (New York: 1977), pp. 80-1. There were two divisions of fyrd in the 11th century one consisting of a local peasant force and the other a select levy force.

C. Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions: On the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford: 1962), p. 26.

The local peasant Fyrd that fought at Hastings came from Sussex.

C. Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions: On the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford: 1962), p.30. All freemen of the area were obligated to provide protection for the local area. This obligation was connected with financial and agricultural obligations.

C. Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions: On the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford: 1962), pp. 35-6. The peasant fighting force is a Germanic tradition in origin. Based upon a freeman's duty to defend the lands of the king, however the peasant force is a limited army. The king is required to pay the troops if needed for them to leave the area. The peasants have the right to return to there homes at the end of the day. However, they must provide their own equipment.

C. Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions: On the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford: 1962), pp. 27-8. The primary function of the peasant Fyrd was to provide defense against enemies attack from the sea, such as the events at Hastings.

C. Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions: On the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford: 1962), p 31. It provided this defense by bolstering the ranks of the select levy force.

C. Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions: On the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford: 1962), p.42.

The select levy force is also Germanic in origin.

C. Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions: On the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford: 1962), p. 42. The levy of troops was required by law, with the earliest records coming from the 8th century. Failure to provide military service resulted in a fine of 120 shillings.

C. Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions: On the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford: 1962), p. 59. One man is recruited for each five hides of land. The same person was chosen every time the select levy was called into service. He was paid four shillings from each hide for two months of service.

C. Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions: On the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford: 1962), pp. 38-9. In the traditional definition the hide is a measure of land based on an amount of land that could support a peasant family. According to Abels the hide is a unit of taxation, which told the lord how much economic and military resources a unit of his land could provide.

Richard Abels, Lordship and Military Obligation in Anglo Saxon England (Berkeley: 1988), pp. 100-1. The man chosen for the fyrd duty was usually a thegn, or a member of the upper peasantry, or even a common peasant.

C. Warren Hollister, Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions: On the Eve of the Norman Conquest (Oxford: 1962), p. 84. The individual in charge of the unit of land was responsible for the providing of the soldiers for the fyrd and suffered the consequences of failing to do so. The fine was extracted from the missing fyrdman and given to the king as compensation.

Richard Abels, Lordship and Military Obligation in Anglo Saxon England (Berkeley: 1988), p.125. In addition the weapons and armor were to be provided by the one responsible for the hides.

Richard Abels, Lordship and Military Obligation in Anglo Saxon England (Berkeley: 1988), p. 127. Another reason for providing service in the fyrd was the obligation of military service in exchange for land. The acceptance of land bound one to the lord due to its gift of

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