King Harold II learned of the Norwegian victory at Fulford whilst he and his army were still waiting for the expected invasion of southern England by Duke William of Normandy. King Harold realised the immediate danger the Norwegian victory in the north represented. In two days King Harold assembled an army of 15,000 men, which included roughly 3,000 of his elite troops - the housecarls.
King Harold led his army, most of whom were on foot, across 185 miles in just four days. The English army marched day and night with such speed that Hardrada’s army only knew of King Harold’s location when they saw them rushing towards their camp! Only six days after the Battle of Fulford the English forces led by King Harold won an astonishing victory against the Norwegian forces of Harald Hardrada.
The outcome was a decisive victory for King Harold II. The Norwegians were caught off guard and all those camped at Stamford Bridge were killed. The Norwegian reinforcements were also defeated and only a small force escaped. Both Tostig Godwinson and Harald Hardrada were killed during the battle. King Harold won a famous victory but lost a third of his forces, and only four days later led his army on another exhausting forced march to confront Duke William near the south coast of England.
At any other time his victory would have been remembered as one of the greatest in English history but Harold would be judged by the outcome of the battle against Duke William three weeks later at Hastings.