The Info List - Battle Of Fulford

Kingdom of Norway

Earldom of Orkney

English rebels Kingdom of England

Commanders and leaders

Harald Hardrada Tostig Godwinson Morcar of Northumbria Edwin of Mercia


10,000 (estimate) 5,000 (estimate)

Casualties and losses

900 (estimate) 750 (estimate)

v t e

Viking invasions of England

Great Heathen Army
Great Heathen Army

Englefield Reading Ashdown Basing Marton Edington/Ethandun Cynwit

The Danelaw

Buttington First Stamford The Holme Tettenhall Tempsford Derby Second Stamford Corbridge Brunanburh Stainmore Maldon First Alton St Brice's Day Pinhoe Ringmere

Cnut's invasion (1015–16)

Assandun Brentford

Harald's invasion (1066)

Fulford Stamford Bridge

v t e

Norman conquest of England

Battle of Fulford Battle of Stamford Bridge Battle of Hastings Harrying of the North Revolt of the Earls

The Battle of Fulford
was fought on the outskirts of the village of Fulford[1] near York
in England, on 20 September 1066, when King Harald III of Norway, also known as Harald Hardrada
Harald Hardrada
("harðráði" in Old Norse, meaning "hard ruler"), and Tostig Godwinson, his English ally, fought and defeated the Northern Earls Edwin and Morcar.[1][2][3] Tostig was Harold Godwinson's banished brother. He had allied with King Harald of Norway and possibly Duke William of Normandy
William of Normandy
but there is no record of the reasoning behind his invasions. The battle was a decisive victory for the Viking army. The earls of York
could have hidden behind the walls of their city but instead they met the Viking army across a river. All day the English desperately tried to break the Viking shield wall but to no avail. Tostig was opposed by Earl Morcar who had displaced him as Earl of Northumbria.[4]


1 Background 2 Battle

2.1 Deployment 2.2 English charge 2.3 Harald's counter-move

3 Aftermath 4 Notes 5 References 6 External links

Background[edit] The Anglo-Saxon
king Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor
died on 5 January 1066 without an heir.[5] The only surviving member of the royal family was Edgar, the young son of Edward Ætheling. On the day of King Edward's funeral, 6 January, Harold Godwinson, the Earl of Wessex, rushed to London, where he was crowned king in the Abbey of Saint Peter of Westminster, by Ealdred, Archbishop of York.[6] Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
was elected as King by the Witenagemot, who had gathered in Westminster to celebrate the feast of Epiphany. However, two powerful earls, brothers Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria, challenged his authority. Sources indicate that Harold moved north to confront them; however, in the end he secured their loyalty by marrying their sister, Edith, the widow of Griffith of Wales. By securing the loyalty of Edwin and Morcar, Godwinson increased his strength in the north. These men were, in fact, the first barrier between Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
and Harald Hardrada.[7] Tostig, the exiled brother of Godwinson, also felt he had a claim to the English throne. During his exile, he lived in Flanders, whence, according to the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle, he invaded in May 1066 against his brother.[8] At Sandwich Tostig is said to have enlisted and impressed sailors.[8] He then sailed north, where he battled Edwin, the Earl of Mercia. After a quick defeat at the mouth of the Humber, he arrived in Scotland under the protection of King Malcolm of Scotland. Later he met and made a pact with Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, whereby he agreed to support Hardrada in his invasion of England.[8]The medieval historian Orderic Vitalis
Orderic Vitalis
has a different version of this story; he says that Tostig travelled to Normandy to enlist the help of William, Duke of Normandy.[9][10] Then, as William was not ready to get involved at that stage, Tostig sailed from the Cotentin Peninsula, but because of storms ended up in Norway, and made his pact with Harald Hardrada
Harald Hardrada
there.[8] Whether in Norway or Scotland, it is certain that Tostig allied himself with Hardrada, where they fought side by side at the Battle of Fulford. Tostig was a useful ally for Hardrada not only because he was the brother of his adversary but also because he knew the terrain.[11] Hardrada, like Tostig, William of Normandy, and King Harold Godwinson, was another claimant to the throne. Hardrada set sail for England in September 1066, picking up supplies in Orkney
and was reinforced by Tostig, who brought soldiers and ships. They sailed together along the River Ouse towards the city of York.[12] In Orderic Vitalis' version it says that in the month of August Hardrada and Tostig set sail across the wide sea with a favourable wind and landed in Yorkshire.[13] They arrived at the mouth of the Humber
on 18 September. Having disembarked from their ships, their armies quickly moved towards York. On 20 September 1066, they were confronted by Godwinson's earls, Edwin and Morcar.[14] Battle[edit] Deployment[edit] Edwin had brought some soldiers to the east to prepare for an invasion by the Norwegians. The battle started with the English spreading their forces out to secure their flanks. On their right flank was the River Ouse, and on the left was the Fordland, a swampy area. The disadvantage to the position was that it gave Harald higher ground, which was perfect for seeing the battle from a distance. Another disadvantage was that if one flank were to give way, the other one would be in trouble.[1] If the Anglo-Saxon
army had to retreat, it would not be able to because of the marshlands. They would have to hold off the Norwegians as long as possible.[4] Harald's army approached from three routes to the south. Harald lined his army up to oppose the Anglo-Saxons, but he knew it would take hours for all of his troops to arrive. His least experienced troops were sent to the right and his best troops on the riverbank.[1] English charge[edit] The English struck first, advancing on the Norwegian army before it could fully deploy. Morcar's troops pushed Harald's back into the marshlands, making progress against the weaker section of the Norwegian line. However, this initial success proved insufficient for victory to the English army, as the Norwegians brought their better troops to bear upon them, still fresh against the weakened Anglo-Saxons.[1] Harald's counter-move[edit] Harald brought more of his troops from the right flank to attack the centre, and sent more men to the river. The invaders were outnumbered, but they kept pushing and shoving the defenders back. The Anglo-Saxons were forced to give ground. Edwin's soldiers who were defending the bank now were cut off from the rest of the army by the marsh, so they headed back to the city to make a final stand. Within another hour, the men on the beck were forced off by the Norwegians. Other invading Norwegians, who were still arriving, found a way to get around the thick fighting and opened a third front against the Anglo-Saxons. Outnumbered and outmaneuvered, the defenders were defeated. Edwin and Morcar however, managed to survive the fight.[1] York
surrendered to the Norwegians under the promise that the victors would not force entry to their city, perhaps because Tostig would not want his capital looted.[15] It was arranged that the various hostages should be brought in and the Norwegian army retired to Stamford Bridge, 7 miles (11 km) east of York, to await their arrival.[15] Aftermath[edit] It has been estimated that at Fulford
the Norwegians had about 10,000 troops of which 6,000 were deployed in the battle, and the defenders 5,000.[16] During the battle, casualties were heavy on both sides. Some estimates claim 15% dead giving a total of 1650 (based on 11,000 troops being deployed in the battle).[17] From all accounts, it is clear that the mobilised power of Mercia and Northumbria was cut to pieces at Fulford.[15] Because of the defeat at Fulford
Gate, King Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
had to force march his troops 190 miles (310 km), from London to York.[18] He did this within a week of Fulford
and managed to surprise the Viking army and defeat them at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.[19] In the meantime William, Duke of Normandy, had landed his army in Sussex on the south coast. Harold marched his army back down to the south coast where he met William's army, at a place now called Battle just outside Hastings.[20] It is probable that Harold's intention was to repeat his success at Stamford Bridge by catching Duke William unawares.[18] The Anglo-Norman chronicler Florence of Worcester commented that although the king [Harold] was aware that some of the bravest men in England had fallen in two recent battles and that half of his troops were not assembled, he did not hesitate to meet the enemy in Sussex. It is likely that the engagements at Fulford
Gate and at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, fought within a week of each other, seriously affected Harold's strength at the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
some three weeks later.[18] There is no doubt that if Harold had not been diverted by the battles in the north, then he would have been better prepared to fight William at Hastings and the result might have been different.[15][18] Notes[edit]

^ a b c d e f DeVries. The Norwegian Invasion. pp. 255–259. ^ Ross, David. "The Battle of Fulford". Britain Express. Retrieved 13 January 2016.  ^ "Battle Of Fulford". UK Battlefield's Resource. The Battlefields Trust. Retrieved 13 January 2016.  ^ a b Howarth, David (1977). 1066; The Year of the Conquest. Dorset Press. ISBN 0-88029-014-5.  ^ David C. Douglas. William the Conqueror. pp. 181. ^ Barlow. Edward the Confessor. pp. 244–245. ^ David C. Douglas. William the Conqueror. pp. 182–3. ^ a b c d Barlow. The Godwins. pp. 134–135. ^ Woods. Dark Ages. pp. 233–238. ^ Barlow, The Godwins Chapter 5: The Lull Before the Storm. ^ David C. Douglas. William the Conqueror. pp. 189–190. ^ DeVries Norwegian Invasion pp. 236–252 ^ Jones. Finding Fulford. p. 39 ^ David C. Douglas. William the Conqueror. pp. 193. ^ a b c d Schofield, The Third Battle of 1066 in History Today, Vol. 16, pp. 689–692. ^ Jones. Finding Fulford. pp. 202–203. ^ Jones. Finding Fulford. p. 235. ^ a b c d Brown. Anglo-Norman studies III. Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1980. pp. 7–9. ^ Woods. Dark Ages, pp. 238–240. ^ Barlow, The Godwins, Chapter 7: The Collapse of the Dynasty.


Chronicle. Barlow, Frank (2002). The Godwins. London: Pearson Longman. ISBN 0-582-78440-9.  Barlow, Frank (1970). Edward the Confessor. Berkeley & LA, CA: California University Press. ISBN 0-520-01671-8.  Bennett, Matthew (2003). Campaigns of the Norman Conquest. Taylor & Francis. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-57958-376-7.  Brown, R. Allen, ed. (1980). Anglo-Norman Studies III: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1980. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press. ISBN 0-85115-141-8.  DeVries, Kelly (2003). The Norwegian Invasion of England in 1066. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press. ISBN 1-84383-027-2.  Worcester, Florence of (1854). Thomas Forester Tr., ed. The Chronicle of Florence of Worcester: with the two continuations. London: Henry G. Bohn.  Jones, Charles (2011). Finding Fulford – the Search for the First Battle of 1066: The Report on the Work to Find the Site of the Battle of Fulford. London: WritersPrintShop. ISBN 1-78018-050-0.  Schofield, Guy (1966). "The Third Battle of 1066 in History today, Volume 16". London: History Today. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012.  Durham, Symeon of (1868). Hinde, Hodgson, ed. Symeonis Dunelmensis Opera et Collectanea. I. Durham: Surtees Society.  Vitalis, Ordericus (1853). Thomas Forester Tr., ed. The Ecclesiastical history of England and Normandy. Volume i. London: Henry G. Bohn.  Wood, Michael (2005). In Search of the Dark Ages. London: BBC. ISBN 978-0-563-52276-8. 

External links[edit]

Details from the Battlefields Trust Battle of Fulford

v t e

Norman conquest of England


William the Conqueror Harold Godwinson Harald Hardrada Sweyn II of Denmark


Battle of Fulford Battle of Stamford Bridge Battle of Hastings


Gyrth Godwinson Odo of Bayeux Leofwine Godwinson Hereward the Wake Edwin Morcar Tostig Waltheof Eustace of Boulogne Eadric the Wild Robert of Mortain Ralph de Gael Roger de Breteuil Companions of William the Conqueror

Associated people

Edward the Confessor Stigand Edith the Fair Edgar Ætheling Ealdred Malcolm III of Scotland Matilda of Flanders


Battle Abbey Battle, East Sussex Pevensey Tower of London


Harrying of the North Revolt of the Earls Council of London Trial of Penenden Heath


Bayeux Tapestry Domesday Book Carmen de Hastingae Proelio William