Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/218

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212 BATTLE OF HASTINGS.


'Such a baron (ber) never bestrode war-horse, nor dealt such blows, nor did such feats of arms; neither has there been on earth such a knight since Rollant and Oliver.'

"Thus they lauded and extolled him greatly, and rejoiced in what they saw, but grieving also for their friends who were slain in the battle. And the duke stood meanwhile among them, of noble stature and mien, and rendered thanks to the King of glory, through whom he had the victory; and thanked the knights around him, mourning also frequently for the dead. And he ate and drank among the dead, and made his bed that night upon the field.

"The morrow was Sunday; and those who had slept upon the field of battle, keeping watch around, and suffering great fatigue, bestirred themselves at break of day, and sought out and buried such of the bodies of their dead friends as they might find. The noble ladies of the land also came, some to seek their husbands, and others their fathers, sons, or brothers. They bore the bodies to their villages, and interred them at the churches; and the clerks and priests of the country were ready, and at the request of their friends, took the bodies that were found, and prepared graves and lay them therein.

"King Harold was carried and buried at Varham; but I know not who it was that bore him thither, neither do I know who buried him. Many remained on the field, and many had fled in the night."

Such is a Norman account of the battle of Hastings,* which does full justice to the valor of the Saxons as well as to the skill and bravery of the victors. It is indeed evident that the loss of the battle by the English was owing to the wound which Harold received in the afternoon, and which must have incapacitated him from effective command. When we remember that he had himself just won the battle of Stamford Bridge over Harold Hardrada by the maneuver of a feigned flight, it is impossible to suppose that he could be deceived by the same stratagem on the

  • In the preceding pages I have woven together the 'porpureos pannos'

of the old chronicler. In so doing, I have largely availed myself of Mr. Edgar Taylor's version of that part of the "Roman de Rou" which describes the conquest. By giving engravings from the Bayeux Tapestry, and by his excellent notes, Mr. Taylor has added much to the value and interest of his volume.