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William was successful at Hastings because of his leadership of the Normans.(TM) To what extent do you agree?

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Introduction

'William was successful at Hastings because of his leadership of the Normans.' To what extent do you agree? In this essay I am going to look at Williams's leadership of his soldiers during the period before and during the battle of Hastings, the Norman organisation compared to the English and the overall strengths and weaknesses of both sides. At this time, leadership was very different than it is today. In the medieval times, to be a good leader meant that you could keep control of your people well, by force if necessary, you also had to be a good diplomat as Europe was by and large still at war with itself at the time so you had to be able to negotiate well with other leaders. On top of this and probably most important of all, you had to be a good warrior, you had to be able to lead your men in battle and set an example for the men to follow. If you set a bad example and were no good in battle you were likely to lose as your men would have no confidence, however if you were a fearsome warrior and set a good example your men would be confident of winning. ...read more.

Middle

The Normans also had very high morale as they believed that they had God on their side which was a massively important thing at this time. When the English saw the Norman Papal banner they would have known that God was definitely not on their side and would be almost defeated from the off. William also had spies and scouts who would give him inside information about the English army and their whereabouts. The Normans also had many up to date weapons that were superior to the English, as the English had lost weapons at Fulford and Stamford Bridge. The Normans also had something that the English did not, the cavalry. The cavalry would be very effective against the English foot soldiers. The English were probably superior to the Normans in hand to hand combat but with the cavalry the Normans had an extra edge. These men were the knights. They had been trained from a very early age how to ride and fight on horses their speed and manoeuvrability completely outclassed the English once they had been drawn off the hill. The horses themselves were also weapons having been trained to kick and bite other humans. ...read more.

Conclusion

along with the Papal banner the comet would have told the English that they were going to lose, possibly almost defeating them before the battle had started. In conclusion, although William was a brilliant leader of the Normans his leadership was not the most important reason the Normans defeated the English at Hastings. It is true that he was a brilliant leader but I think that the most important reason was that the English were completely exhausted from the days of fighting and marching prior to the battle. This factor is the most important because the English were just not ready for another huge battle in the space of a few weeks. The Normans had been ready and rested for months so they had a huge advantage over the exhausted English. The other reasons did play a part in the defeat I think that if the English did not have to fight off Hardrada first, they would have beaten William. The Normans did have the cavalry and Harolds tactics were poor but the cavalry were largely ineffective against the English line until Haralds tactics came into play with his inability to control his men meant that the English came off the hill and so the cavalry found it easy to pick them off. Overall the most important reason was because the English were completely exhausted. ...read more.

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