This doesn’t work really, does it?


This is part of the Royal Mint ad for its new 1066 coins.


From KA Rodgers.

48 thoughts on “This doesn’t work really, does it?”

  1. But not at the same time. The battle was between the king of england and the duke of normandy. The duke won and two months later was crowned as king.

  2. The King of Scotland was not involved. But the King of Norway had lost his claim at Stamford Bridge (poor Jose)

  3. Well, ultimately it did affect the course of British history.
    It paved the way for Norman’s to intervene in Ireland and rule in Lowland Scotland.
    It wasn’t fought between two kings of course. One king and one bastard, by birth, name and nature.

  4. Well Hasting is weird for how long it went. It couldve go to Harold had the news of the Bastard’s demise panned out. He just have to raise his visit and rally his troops.

  5. And how much difference did it make to British history? Would things still have been different by 1707, or would it have ended up much the same by then?

  6. It probably did change history.

    Had William lost, it’s most likely that the Channel Islands would be part of France. Or, less likely, part of an independent Normandy.

    It’s unlikely that Jersey and Guernsey would be independent now had Harold won.

  7. Richard – likely we would have been invaded by Norman and his mates at other times too. So probably not much difference overall.
    The court language was influenced by the new rulers of course but the general language? More influenced by the church, the towns and the cities.
    Chaucer for example is not too much later and is understandable for those used to modern English.

  8. I doubt that William could have successfully invaded and won had not Harald Hardarada (who purchased his interest in the crown from the then King of Denmark who’s claim was legitimate and through Sven/Canute etc). The battle of Stamford bridge was decsive but hard and cost Harold II a significant chunk of his core House Carls; the key fighting component in his army.

    Without Hardarada’s invasion, William would almost certainly have been crushed by an army twice his size.

  9. William the Bastard’s #1contrubution is the commission of Domesday Book. Prior to that, there literally wasn’t a centralized repository of taxable assets of the land since the withdrawal of Romans.

  10. The Norman’s conquered Sicily with much worse odds than that Ed.

    It would merely have delayed the issue. And perhaps William might have got some local allies on side rather than having it all for himself.

  11. “And how much difference did it make to British history?”

    Not a lot.

    If you look at Europe today, what happened politically before the 20th century is pretty much irrelevant.

  12. So the Mint have validated William’s claim to the English throne, has it? Next, HMG’ll be apologising to the French for Harold’s fractious behavior..

  13. If you look at Europe today, what happened politically before the 20th century is pretty much irrelevant.

    That’s a fairly extreme view – most of the problems in Yugoslavia can be traced back to (at least) an attempt to refight the Battle of Kosovo. Many modern Western European nations only came into existence in the 19th century and the sticking plaster is starting to peel away.

    I prefer Zhou Enlai’s verdict on the impact of the French Revolution: “It is too early to say.” (Even if he was, allegedly, referring to the Paris student riots that had taken place only three years before.)

  14. HMG’ll be apologising to the French for Harold’s fractious behavior

    I’ll be demanding reparations from Normandy for the harm inflicted on my ancestors during the Harrying of the North.

  15. Chester, sorry but no (of course that’s IMHO). Sicily wasn’t organised like England was. Under a popular and competent King like Harold II, England could normally easily raise about 4-5 x what Normandy could; and probably 2-3 x what William could raise even calling on all the freebooters he could find.

    Hastings (or the Battle of Battle, which is where it was actually fought a bit out of Hastings) was fought on the English side by about 20% of the forces they could have turned up with without Hardarada’s intervention. First Hardarada defeated and neutralised the Northern Jarls and their forces, about 25-30% of the English readily available force, and then took out around 20-30% of Harold’s core troops whilst fighting to the death.

    Stamford Bridge BTW, was an extraordinarily bloody battle, the Norwegians arrived in something like 100 ships, it took only 2 to take the survivors home. They were caught without most of their armour but fought to the death anyway, and probably close to 90% died. Most battles of the time were considered bloody if there was a 20-30% casualty rate though the Vikings did tend to fight on past the normal surrender time.

    William offered a lot to other Nobles in France and the low countries to take part, but an undivided and fresh England was almost certainly too daunting. Harold was pushed by political pressure to tackle William so early, if he could have delayed some additional weeks, William would have been in a lot of difficulty with supply and some troops would probably have defected, whereas Harold could have doubled his army in the same time.

    Whether an Anglo-Saxon England could have survived long term is hard to know, but I think the consensus is that had they beaten off William then, or as I posit not had two formidable enemies to deal with at one time in one year, then Harold could have reigned for a long time. Hardarada and his force was generally superior to William’s too, pity Harold couldn’t arrange to pit those two against each other first. Hardarada was a veteran of the Byzantine Varangian Guard and had served in various positions with the Byzantine rulers for some years before coming back to claim the throne of Norway, wresting it from Denmark. He was an experienced and formidable opponent with more reputation and experience than William.

    William got lucky, very lucky, and history, for Britain and that part of the world, was changed.

  16. Chris Miller,

    Fair point about Yugoslavia, but really, the carving up of Europe into nations is mostly irrelevant. The economic and social attitudes of France, Germany and the UK have all been very different at various times in the 20th century to what they are today. France was a more free market country than the UK in the 1960s. What’s the legacy of Weimar or Hitler on Germany? A lack of bagel shops? Not much of a film industry?

    What’s left of what was created as rather unique UK things before 1945? The BBC is about all, and that feels like it’s going to be put down soon. The monarchy is just pageantry and opening hospitals now. Empire and even commonwealth are mostly irrelevant. The Church of England is knackered. The Lords is very different to how it was then.

  17. The monarchy has pretty much the same powers now as it did prior to 1945. We have learnt the hard way what happens when too much power is in the hands of an individual.

  18. Having visited Battle this summer my lasting impression was “How the F*** did anyone lose a fight from such an advantageous position?” It’s a rather steep hill.

  19. So Much For Subtlety

    The minute your average Somali war criminal gets off the plane, it is racism to call him anything other than British according to the Left.

    Maybe the Left has finally found some undocumented immigrating spontaneous wealth redistributers and rapists they do not approve of?

  20. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in Wiltshire – “If you look at Europe today, what happened politically before the 20th century is pretty much irrelevant.”

    The European Financial Crisis broke down more or less exactly long confessional lines. The countries that are doing well are formerly Protestant. The PIIGS are Catholic except for Greece.

  21. Having visited Battle this summer my lasting impression was “How the F*** did anyone lose a fight from such an advantageous position?” It’s a rather steep hill.

    In the end, poor discipline on the part of the Huscarls. They thought the Normans had broken, so part of the English line charged to finish them off. The Normans managed to regroup, and it was a lot easier for them to take on small groups of English.

  22. SMFS,

    Germany is more catholic than protestant. Austria, Belgium and Poland are far more catholic than protestant.

  23. Hastings (or the Battle of Battle, which is where it was actually fought a bit out of Hastings)

    Whut? Surely the place was named after the Battle, no? I’d always assumed so. :-/

  24. “Ok so we have 3 European countries in 19th century. Its a start”

    You could add The Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg/Luxembourg. Makes 5. Or, if you follow WKPD (“Switzerland has existed as a state in its present form since the adoption of the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1848.”), make it 6. Or make it 7 if you want to count the UK of G Britain and Ireland (later of Northern Ireland).

  25. Correct, Battle gets its name from the battle, via the Abbey built to commemorate it.

    Regardless of which, and I point this out on the LHTD’s behalf, the key point is being missed by all of you.

    William’s success set off a chain of events that led to Jersey and Guernsey becoming tax havens. Harold may not have intended to undermine our government’s tax regime, but that’s exactly what his failure led to. Was he the first neoliberal? If so, then an arrow in the eye is the least he deserved.

  26. @dearieme

    The UK was created on the 1st Jan, 1800.

    Whether this makes the UK 18th or 19th Century is what the Pendants Society was invented for. Or is that Pendant’s? Or Pendants’?

  27. WKPD: “The Acts of Union 1800 … united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland (previously in personal union) to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with effect from 1 January 1801.”

  28. It changed English history, as there was no such place as ‘Britain’ at the time.

    The United Kingdom of Great Britain dates to 1707 and the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland to 1800, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland to 1922.

    The Kingdom of Great Britain was united in 1602 as James VI of Scotland became James I of England, so a ‘united’ Kingdom existed from that point.

  29. Another one for your C19th countries is Greece. Fought itself free of the Ottoman Empire 1821-32. Norway just misses the century with its independence from Sweden in 1905 but you could say Finland’s born in 1800’s.& Denmark also separates from Sweden in 1814.
    It’s usually simpler & shorter to compile a list of countries that DID exist pre 1800

  30. “the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland to 1800”: nope, 01/01/1801.

    The Union of Crowns is usually dated to 1603, on the fuddy-duddy principle that that’s the year Liz I died and James VI/I inherited the English throne.

    Mind you, there’s one complication to all this dates malarkey:
    “The first day of the year is 25 March according to the Julian calendar but it is 1 January for the Gregorian calendar. Calendar reform began in continental Europe and James VI proclaimed that Scotland should adopt the Gregorian calendar on 1 January 1600. With the Union of the Crowns in 1603 he became James I of England but the calendar change did not take place south of the Border until 1752.”

  31. “So Britain as a State existed prior to the 19th century?”

    That depends entirely on what you mean by “Britain”. If you mean the Kingdom of Great Britain, yes. If you mean the United Kingdom of GB and Ireland, no. If you mean the Roman province(s) of Britannia, yes. if you mean Cromwell’s united “Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland” yes. But observe that the latter was not called Britain.

  32. The hill at Battle is a superb defensive position, but does an attacker have an obligation to attack it? What if William had just waited a few days? Was there a water supply on the hill? Was there one at the foot of it, of course.

  33. I mean as a nation state recognised as a nation state by other nation states.
    I suppose some countries will change multiple times in a century what they call themselves but they are already a nation state. France did, we did probably some others did.

    And you have others that are multiple states that come together one way or another into what is recognised as a nation state by others. The German states into Germany.

  34. Rob – the problem comes in that time gives more chance for defenders to raise support, more troops to arrive for the defence – and unless the attackers fort up pretty quickly they risk being attacked themselves. He didn’t have the troops to totally surround the British and prevent a breakout wherever they wanted.
    William also had the unenviable job of keeping his troops and mercenaries under control – dither or retreat and he would lose some support with potential defection by mercenaries too.
    Forcing battle with the British benefitted William far more than waiting would have.

  35. @ Rob
    Harold had left his archers behind (probably they had run out of arrows during the battle of Stamford Bridge). If they had arrived, with quivers full of arrows, then William would have got what he deserved.

  36. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in Wiltshire – “Germany is more catholic than protestant. Austria, Belgium and Poland are far more catholic than protestant.”

    According to the 2011 German Census, Christianity is the largest religion in Germany, claiming 66.8% of the total population.[206] Relative to the whole population, 31.7% declared themselves as Protestants, including members of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) (30.8%) and the free churches (German: Evangelische Freikirchen) (0.9%), and 31.2% declared themselves as Roman Catholics.

    Also keeping in mind the atheists are concentrated in the East and other formerly Protestant regions.

    Poland recently stole its pension funds. I assume when they have p!ssed all that money they will be as broke as the other Catholic countries. I have no confidence in the strength of Belgium but we will see. Austria is an outlier.

    It is actually a remarkably strong rule.

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