The Battle of Hastings
By David C. Lowe
Copyright 2012 David C. Lowe
on Granddad, Tell us a story of when you were young." Badgered
Let me see now, it was October 1066 and the Norman invasion force were advancing towards us, they looked pretty fierce. William, the Duke of Scum, sat astride his horse as if he'd already won the battle but us Saxons knew that he'd lose but how wrong we were. He had a force of about 7,000 men, he'd positioned his army so that the archers were in front and behind them the infantry and the cavalry was in three groups at the rear.
The archers loosed a flight of arrows and the two men on either side of me fell to the ground with arrows sticking out their chests, I was nearly hit by an arrow that just missed my head, it was so close that I could felt the fletch on the arrow brush my ear as it went past, we returned fire and I think we killed about fifty to a hundred men in the rally this went on for most of the day.
Then "The Duke's" men started to retreat, most of the army went after them on the way down I stumbled and fell hitting my head, the next thing I remember is that the battle was over and the Norman's were going round checking the dead for anything valuable and killing those who weren't dead, as one walked past me I held my breath and acted as if I was dead and he walked straight past me. I stayed where I was until the battle-field was empty then I slowly pulled myself up and started walking in a north-westerly direction.
After about an hour I came upon a small village because I was getting sick of walking I went to the blacksmith's shop.
"Yes sir, what can I do for you today?" he asked
"I was wondering if you had any horses for sale and knew where I could get some supplies?" I replied
"You are in luck sir," he replied "one just came in today. He's a bit flighty but he is a good horse and a hard worker or so I was told by the last owner. You can have him for two silver marks. As to the second part of your question, locals are very glad to help out as long they get their pockets lined, if you get my meaning sir."
"Can I have a look at the horse please? I want to check him out for myself."
He led me to the stable at the rear of his shop.
"This is the one" he said holding out his hand indicating a horse in a corner stall and trying to kick down the door. He was black all over except for a white blaze on his face. That horse was Blaze who accompanied me on many other adventures.
Now where was I? Now I remember, the blacksmith had led me around the back to show me the horse he had for sale.
"I see what you mean by flighty, I'll take him"
I haggled with him a bit and brought his price down to one silver mark. I also bought a saddle and saddle-bags, I did pretty well with the supplies mainly because I had purse full of coins that I'd won before the battle and when I fell it had ended up under me and the Norman's hadn't even bothered to check, I also managed to buy a sword that one of the local traders had taken as payment for supplies from a traveller.
I stayed at the local inn over night and set off the following morning. I travelled continuously for two days without sleep to get as far away as possible from the Hastings, on the second night I ended up sleeping by the road.
The next morning I was woken up by something nudging my shoulder I rolled over to see what it was and it was only my horse whose reins had come undone.
I reached Cirencester about lunchtime and stopped off at one of the taverns to get a bite to eat. While I was eating, I saw that couple of young lads were giving the barmaids a hard time and also any other women in the tavern.
"Excuse me sir, I think you should leave"
I looked over at the owner and the look on his face showed that he agreed with me.
"What are you going to do if we don't leave?" One of them asked.
"I don't think you want to know what will happen if you don't leave right know."
"Anyway why should I listen to you?" said the other one
"Because you'll regret it."
But they were so drunk that they hadn't listened to a word I had said, they also looked as if they were in the mood for a fight.
The minutes that followed are a bit of blur but I can remember another lad helping me by holding off one of them with a dagger while I fought the other, the fight was the shortest I've ever been in, he made a lunge at me which I easily dodged, I then gave him a right hook to the jaw and knocked him out cold as I knocked the man out the lad tripped his friend over and we were out of there and heading north before they had time to recover and come after us.
We rode for a while and came to a forest. We got about half way through the forest when we were held up by four bandits. I found out then that the lad was very handy with a long-bow, he hit one of them in the throat from about ten feet away, the bandit fell gargling to the ground. While this was happening I had sliced another across the stomach and impaled another on the end of my sword. We didn't have a chance to get the fourth one because he ran off into the woods and we couldn't be bothered to going after him.
We made it the rest of the way through without any more hassles, beyond the forest the ground was very rocky. We had to walk our horses to make sure they didn't lose their footing and fall or become lame. We were half way down one of the mountains when we were caught in the middle of a storm and had to shelter in a cave, we built a fire. "Come on lad get those wet clothes off." I told him
"I don't want to!"
"Now lad don't be difficult, get those wet clothes off."
"I said I don't want to."
"And why not?"
"Because I'm a girl."
I stared at him in surprise, Then he said Stop staring at me like that
"Now lad or should I say lass tell me the whole story."
She told me that she'd run away from home because she wanted to experience a little adventure and that she was also running from an arranged marriage
"Why the Disguise?" I asked
"I knew a young boy travelling alone wouldn't draw attention like and young lady would."
"What was wrong with the man you were to marry?"
"Well, he was vain, arrogant, self-centred and pompous."
After a bit more conversation on her ex-husband-to-be. I finally persuaded her that if she agreed to get out of her wet clothes, I promised that I would turn around as long as she did the same. I turned around but I couldn't help having a peek, she was very beautiful and still is, I think she did the same when I was getting out of my clothes. Later when we were sitting by the fire waiting for our clothes to dry and for the storm to pass.
"I don't mean to be rude but what is your name and why was it so important for you to marry?" I asked her
"My name is Cordelaine but I usually get called Laine. My father is a land owner near London, the man I was to marry is a neighbouring land owner's son. It was to be a marriage of convenience because I am the eldest of four daughters, I was to marry this man so that there was an heir to manage the land when my father died and to protect my father's land from other land owners. Now that I've told you my story. How about you telling me yours"
"My name is Aileron and I am going up north to start anew. I have just come from the battle at Hastings."
"Tell me who won?"
"I'm sad to say that the Norman force won and almost destroyed the English force. The ones that did survive I'd say are probably doing the same as me"
"Do you have an idea of where up north you are going?"
"Manchester, my father told me about it when I was little"
"Manchester, I know where that is. My grandfather was born near there, he owns some land around there but his land is closer to a small village called Wigan."
We talked a bit more then fell asleep when I woke up the following morning, I grabbed my clothes and borrowed Laine's bow and went out hunting because some of our supplies had got wet.
While I was out hunting I came across a stag, I crept up as close as could I get, as the stag raised its head put an arrow through its neck. When I reached the cave that we were camped in Laine was sitting by the fire that she had managed to get started again in a blanket and a bit further away from the fire were her clothes.
"There it is!" she said pointing at the bow in my hand "I thought I'd lost it last night while we were trying to find somewhere to get out of the storm."
"Sorry, I borrowed it to go and get something to eat and as you can see I did."
We skinned and cooked the deer, it was delicious we had it with some bread that I'd bought.
Four days later...
As we were travelling along a road we came to a mile stone that said Tamworth 20 miles.
"Laine, we have to go to Tamworth to get some more supplies and I want a proper night's sleep in a bed."
We reached Tamworth about lunchtime the following day and stayed at an inn on the outskirts of town.
I asked for two rooms, the owner gave us adjoining rooms. When we had put our things in the rooms we went out to buy supplies, Laine bought herself a dress then we went back to the inn so she could put it on. I waited for her outside on the verandah and when she came out she looked great.
We went to one of the taverns, I managed to get into a fight over Laine when a man started hassling her because of that we were kicked out of the tavern before we had eaten. We ended up eating some of the supplies that we had just bought. We left at sunrise the next morning.
After what had happened at Tamworth we decided to avoid the next few towns. The next town we entered was Manchester, because we were running low on supplies again. We went into one of the tavern and met up with the man whom I had knocked out cold in Cirencester because Laine was wearing the dress she had bought in Tamworth he thought he would try and impress her and prove his strength by beating me up.
He swung at me but this time he was sober and I wasn't quick enough and he hit me in the jaw, I swung back and got him in the stomach and he dropped to his knees. When the man's friend saw that his friend was losing the fight he decided to join in but one never even got to me because he ended up with Laine's knife in his stomach, the other one who had drawn his sword was walking towards me. He lunged at me but I dodged him and he went flying past, he stopped and swung around in one move and he came at me repeatedly I dodged him every time.
I could see in his face that he was getting mad. I decided to use this against him the next time he came at me. He was waving his sword about wildly just trying to draw blood when he lifted his sword I grabbed his arm and kicked him in the chest, he fell flat on his back.
We left the tavern before anyone could do anything about what had happened, we gathered our stuff from the inn and left Manchester. We rode that fast that we were in Wigan by diner time and that is how your grandmother and I met and ended up in Wigan, that's the end of the story.
I looked at my grand-children and they all had looks of awe on their faces even though I'd told the story before.
"Now, I think you children should go home because your parents will be wondering where you've got to."
The children all walked out the front door and it was the quietest I had ever seen them.