UNA BATTAGLIA PER IL CONTROLLO DELL’INGHILTERRA

MEDIOEVO

Hastings

Nel 1066 la Normandia è un ducato fondato dai Normanni e governato da Guglielmo il Bastardo, cugino di Edoardo il Confessore, re d’Inghilterra.

Il 5 gennaio dello stesso anno, dal suo letto di morte, Edoardo designa suo successore Aroldo conte del Wessex.

Designazione che fa infuriare Guglielmo, che da tempo rivendica il diritto alla Corona Inglese, spingendolo così a dichiarare guerra ad Aroldo, forte della benedizione di papa Alessandro II.

Aroldo è al comando di un esercito che può contare su una forte fanteria, una milizia leggera (Fyrd) e il temibile corpo degli Housecarles, la guardia reale armata di asce dal lungo manico.

Comprese le intenzioni di Guglielmo, Aroldo, mette in stato d’allerta il Fyrd, ma l’8 settembre, nel periodo del raccolto, lo scioglie.

La costa meridionale inglese rimane indifesa.

Tuttavia nei giorni seguenti un avvenimento farà sì che Arnoldo riveda i suoi piani: l’invasione vichinga sulle coste nord-orientali capeggiata dal fratello ribelle Tostig alleatosi con Hardrade, re di Norvegia e pretendente al trono inglese.

Immediatamente Aroldo prepara l’esercito e il 25 settembre a Stamford Bridge (vicino a York), riesce ad annientare i Vichinghi.

La tranquillità di Aroldo dura poco.

Un messaggero lo informa che il 28 Settembre Guglielmo è sbarcato con una forza d’invasione formidabile: 7.500 Normanni e 2.000 cavalli.

I fratelli di Aroldo, Gyrth e Leofwine, gli consigliano di non attaccare, ma di tagliare le vie di rifornimento. Sordo alle richieste e inebriato dalla recente vittoria, Aroldo raggiunge la costa a marce forzate, giungendo con le truppe sfiancate.

Il 13 ottobre il re si attesta sulla collina di Senlac, dove si trova Guglielmo. La mattina del 14 Ottobre i due eserciti si schierano.

I Sassoni si dispongono lungo un fronte di 400 metri in una formazione a mezzaluna. Arnoldo è convinto che il pendio della collina sia un efficace ostacolo per la cavalleria normanna.

L’esercito normanno è diviso in tre corpi di cavalleria; Guglielmo e i feudatari del ducato al centro, i Bretoni a sinistra, i Fiamminghi e i Francesi a destra, nelle prime due file sono disposti gli arcieri.

Che cosa prevede il piano d’attacco normanno?

Lanci degli arcieri a copertura della fanteria cui spetterà il compito di aprire brecce nello schieramento nemico e successivo intervento della cavalleria. La fanteria normanna inizia a salire la collina, la salva di frecce di copertura non ha quasi effetto, finisce per lo più sugli scudi sassoni.

Appena giunta sulla sommità la fanteria di Guglielmo, è investita da una pioggia di lance, asce e pietre.

A questo punto l’intervento della cavalleria è d’obbligo, ma non riesce ad apportare l’aiuto sperato, sia perché deve attaccare in salita, sia per la resistenza sassone.

I Bretoni sono i primi a cedere inseguiti da molti Fyrdman, la morte dei fratelli di Aroldo blocca quel contrattacco sassone che avrebbe potuto travolgere i Normanni. Guglielmo assumendo il comando della cavalleria riesce ad annientare i Fyrdmen, ordinando poi di lanciare le frecce a parabola alta per scavalcare gli scudi sassoni.

E ottiene l’effetto voluto:

i Normanni sfondano la linea nemica e l’esercito sassone inizia a disperdersi.

Guglielmo avvistato Aroldo ordina a quattro cavalieri di ucciderlo, il re sassone, già ferito, è incapace di difendersi e soccombe.

La sconfitta di Aroldo deriva essenzialmente dall’aver sottovaluto i Normanni e la loro cavalleria, ma anche dalla contemporanea invasione vichinga.

Con la vittoria di Guglielmo, che diviene così re d’Inghilterra, nasce la Gran Bretagna.

POTREBBE INTERESSARTI
Arazzo di Bayeux

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