Guernsey Post's Battle of Hastings stamps mark 950th anniversary
The 950th anniversary of The Battle of Hastings, one of the most famous battles ever fought, is to be commemorated by Guernsey Post with a stamp issue (release date 14 September).
Bridget Yabsley, acting head of philatelic at Guernsey Post, said: “1066 is undoubtedly one of the most significant years in England’s history. The death of King Edward the Confessor 950 years ago unleashed a contest for the crown of England, which saw four different claimants for one throne.
“The Bayeux tapestry shows King Edward on his deathbed, offering the English crown to Harold Godwinson – but with no royal blood, and fearing rival claims from William, Duke of Normandy, and the King of Norway, Harold had himself crowned in Westminster Abbey on 6 January 1066, the day after Edward's death.
Bridget continued: - “William's claim to the English throne was based on his assertion that Edward the Confessor had promised him the throne and that Harold, having sworn in 1064 to uphold William's right to succeed to that throne, had betrayed him. He was furious and decided to invade England to enforce his claim.
“Our stamps recall events leading up to, and on, the day itself, which culminated in King Harold II being killed during battle.”
43 pence - On 28 September 1066, William landed unopposed with his troops and cavalry at Pevensey in England and, within a few days, had raised fortifications at Senlac near Hastings.
57 pence – Having defeated an earlier, bloody invasion by the King of Norway at the Battle of Stamford Bridge near York on 25 September, Harold heard the news that William had landed and rushed south, covering 250 miles in some nine days to meet the new threat.
58 pence –Harold's army had the battlefield advantage of being based on a ridge above the Norman positions. As the Normans charged up the hill towards the Saxon shield wall there were many Norman casualties, both infantry and cavalry.
64 pence - The English broke down their Saxon shield wall to chase after Normans who had turned to flee. Some historians believe that William ordered his men to ‘retreat’ – an old Norman trick to move the enemy out of heavily fortified places. Almost the whole of the Duke's battle line fell back, for the rumour spread that he had been killed.
70 pence – As portrayed on the Bayeux Tapestry, William rode among the ranks raising his helmet to show he was still alive. His brave words are said to have restored his troops’ failing courage and the Normans surrounded several thousand of their pursuers.
78 pence - The Normans charged at the English, helpless without the shield wall’s protection. The Bayeux Tapestry shows Harold taking an arrow in the eye and then being ridden down by a Norman cavalryman. The English fought on bravely but eventually fled into the night, their cause lost.
Guernsey Post’s stamps, first day cover and presentation pack are available to pre-order from 1 September by visiting www.guernseystamps.com or by contacting Guernsey Philatelic Bureau on 00 44 (0) 1481 716486.