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Standing on Historic English Battlefield

Jacob Ahler ’13 – Today we visited Battle, England which is the home to the site of the battle of Hastings. Although unfortunate traveling obstacles hindered our abilities to make it to the battle field on time, we nevertheless made it there for a tour, reflection and its overall effect on the history of England and the Common Law.

See more photos from the day at the battlefield here.

Professors Stephen Morillo and Scott Himsel with students

Our group started the tour with Tom, the unfortunate tour guide that had the challenge of giving one of his first tours to one of the world’s most learned experts on the topic of the battle of Hastings and English military history. We arrived at the top of Senlax hill and stood where King Harold and his men would have stood on the day of the battle. As we looked over this historical ground, Professor Morillo gave the class a detailed report of how each side executed it’s military strategy through out the day.

Essentially the battle was very bloody on both sides although William of Normandy had the superior fighting force. After weeks of raiding nearby villages, William was able to provoke Harold into fight a battle that would determine who the next king of England would be.

Students at the Battle of Hastings

After an entire day of the Saxon and Norman lines advancing and falling back, the Normans were able to use their archers to shoot over the shield wall and land the damaging blow to the Saxon troops. After the end of the battle, William advanced to Dover castle where he almost died from dysentery before moving on to London to claim the thrown on Christmas day of 1066. The tour then wrapped up after a tour of the Abbey that was built on the approximate site that King Harold was killed.

The experience that we were fortunate enough to have today was unlike any I have enjoyed before. It is not every day that you are able visit the site of a battle that had such significant historical ramifications in terms of history and the English Common Law being forever changed. The experience was even more enjoyable since we had an expert to elaborate on the details you cant find by researching the battle on the internet.

Professor Morillo expressed to us just how important this battle was to English history and how the Norman victory brought with it the writ system that we use to this day in American law.