Why did William win at Hastings?

The battle was fought from sunrise to sunset. The death of Harold II towards the end of the day played a large part in the Norman victory at Hastings but what role did luck, morale and military skill play in Duke William’s victory?

The key reason why why the Normans won at Hastings - Fortune,Energy,Leadership and Tactics


William’s victory at Hastings owed much to his planning and experience he was also very fortunate, because:

  • If he had invaded in the summer, as Harold expected him to, he would have fought an English army twice as large but the winds stopped William from crossing the channel.
  • The same wind that brought Harald Hardrada from Norway to York also allowed William to cross from Normandy to Pevensey. This meant William landed unopposed.
  • Harold II’s death was a turning point; if he had survived then the battle may well have restarted the following day.


Whilst Harold was marching his soldiers up north and then straight back south again, in just two weeks, Duke William was building castles in the south and raiding the surrounding areas for food and other supplies.


William was very successful in keeping together his large army in a foreign country. Harold’s army appeared invincible for much of the battle, but William and his commanders continued to fight. At important moments in the battle he boosted his men’s morale and most importantly stayed alive.


Duke William had many years of battlefield experience and the famous feigned retreat that his cavalry used to break the shield wall was a tactic his armies had used before in Normandy.

William of Poitiers on the Battle of Hastings

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