Battle of Gate Fulford, 1066

What happened at the Battle of Gate Fulford?
The Battle of Gate Fulford was a crushing defeat for the Anglo-Saxons, who were led by Earls Edwin and Morcar.
Why did the Anglo-Saxons lose the battle of Gate Fulford?
There were a number of reasons why Edwin and Morcar were disadvantaged in the Battle of Gate Fulford.
  • They might have been outnumbered. Although many Vikings stayed with the ships, Hardrada and Tostig's forces numbered up to 10,000. Edwin and Morcar are believed to have had 6,000 men.
  • Harald Hardrada was a good tactician and an experienced warrior.
  • Edwin and Morcar stationed their troops in front of marshland, leaving them nowhere to retreat.
What were the events of the Battle of Gate Fulford?
Hardrada positioned Tostig's weaker troops at one wing of his army.
  • When the Anglo-Saxons charged them, Hardrada brought his stronger soldiers to attack them from the side.
  • The English army broke and tried to retreat, but ran into the marsh and got stuck.
  • The Vikings cut the Anglo-Saxons down, and claimed that they could avoid getting their boots muddy in the marsh by walking on the English corpses.
  • Edwin and Morcar escaped from the slaughter, but it is very likely they were too weakened to play any role in the later battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings.
How did Harold Godwinson react to the Viking invasion at the Battle of Gate Fulford?
When Harold learned of the Viking invasion he brought his housecarls north to meet them.
  • Harold learnt of the Viking invasion, possibly through beacon signals, but did not know about the Battle of Gate Fulford.
  • The southern fyrd, which had been disbanded on the 8th September, was recalled.
What did Harold's journey to the north involve in 1066 for the Battle of Gate Fulford?
Harold's army had a long journey in order to meet the Viking invaders in the north.
  • On 20th September, Harold set off, leading his housecarls on the 185-mile journey north.
  • He sent messages to gather a new army to travel ahead of him, gathering troops from East Anglia and Mercia.
  • It isn't clear how Harold travelled north. It may have been on foot, but it is possible his army sailed up the coast.
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