Battle Of Hastings

Battle Of Hastings

With the death of King Edward the Confessor in early 1066, the throne of England fell into dispute with multiple individuals stepping forward as claimants. Shortly after Edward’s death, the English nobles presented the crown to Harold Godwinson, a powerful local lord. Accepting, he was crowned as King Harold II. His ascension to the throne was immediately challenged by William of Normandy and Harold Hardrada of Norway who felt they had superior claims. Both began assembling armies and fleets with the goal of supplanting Harold.

Due to foul weather, William was delayed in sailing and Hardrada arrived in England first. Landing in the north, he won an initial victory at Gate Fulford on September 20, 1066, but was defeated and killed by Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge five days later. While Harold and his army were recovering from the battle, William landed at Bulverhythe, near Hastings, on September 28. To counter this, Harold raced south with his battered army, arriving on October 13.

William and Harold were familiar with each other as they had fought together in France and some sources, such as the Bayeux Tapestry, suggest that the English lord had sworn an oath to support the Norman duke’s claim to Edward’s throne while in his service. Deploying his army, Harold assumed a position along Senlac Ridge, astride the Hastings-London road. With the army in line along the top of the ridge, the Saxons formed a shield wall and waited for the Normans to arrive. Moving north from Bulverhythe, William’s army appeared on the battlefield on the morning of Saturday October 14.

Arraying his army into three “battles,” composed of infantry, archers, and crossbowmen, William moved to attack the Saxons. His initial plan called for his archers to weaken Harold’s forces with arrows, then for infantry and cavalry assaults to break through the enemy line. This plan began to fail from the outset as the archers were unable to inflict damage due to the Saxon’s high position on the ridge and the protection offered by the shield wall. As William’s infantry advanced, it was pelted with spears and other projectiles which inflicted heavy casualties.

Faltering, the infantry withdrew and the Norman cavalry moved in to attack. This too was beaten back with the horses having difficulty climbing the steep ridge. As his attack was failing, William’s left battle, composed primarily of Bretons, broke and fled back down the ridge. It was pursued by many of the English, who had left the safety of the shield wall to continue the killing. Seeing an advantage, William rallied his cavalry and cut down the counterattacking Saxons. As the day progressed, William continued his attacks, possibly feigning several retreats, as his men slowly wore down the Saxons.

Late in the day, William altered his tactics and ordered his archers to shoot at a higher angle so that their arrows fell on those behind the shield wall. This proved lethal for Harold’s forces and his men began to fall. Legend states that he was hit in the eye with an arrow and killed. With the Saxons taking casualties, William ordered an assault which finally broke through the shield wall. If Harold was not struck by an arrow, he died during this attack. With their line broken and king dead, the many of the Saxons fled with only Harold’s personal bodyguard fighting on until the end.

In the Battle of Hastings it is believed that William lost approximately 2,000 men, while the Saxons suffered around 4,000. Among the Saxon dead was King Harold as well as his brothers Gyrth and Leofwine. Though the Normans were defeated in the Malfosse immediately after the Battle of Hastings, the Saxons did not meet them again in a major battle. After pausing two weeks at Hastings to recover and wait for the English nobles to come and submit to him, William began marching north towards London. After enduring a dysentery outbreak, he was reinforced and closed on the capital. As he approached London, the English nobles came and submitted to William, crowning him king on Christmas Day 1066. William’s invasion marks the last time that Britain was conquered by an outside force and earned him the nickname “the Conqueror.”

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Bill Of Rights

Bill Of Rights

Article I

After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred representatives, nor less than one representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than two hundred representatives, nor more than one representative for every fifty thousand persons.

Article II

No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Article III

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Article IV

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Article V

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Article VI

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Article VII

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Article VIII

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Article IX

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Article X

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Article XI

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article XII

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

American Declaration of Independence

 

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Battle Of Waterloo

Battle Of Waterloo

Waterloo is one of the most famous battles in European history, even today, nearly 200 years after the battle the site is a very popular attraction for visitors from all over Europe. In April 1814 when Napoleon finally abdicated it seemed that the Napoleonic wars were finally over. By the end of the war the European armies had started to adopt French tactics and strategies and the myth of Napoleon’s invincibility had been shattered. Despite this the restored French monarchy was soon in trouble and the victors were more interested in dividing the spoils than watching out for the now exiled Napoleon.
Landing in France on 26th Febuary 1815 with a handful of troops, Napoleon was within 23 days returned to power. The allies were alarmed and quickly united for the final campaign, a campaign which both sides knew would finally decide the future of Europe. Napoleon decided to strike quickly, for to delay would gain the Allies time to muster vast forces and Napoleon’s public support would soon evaporate. Napoleon’s forces crossed the border into Belgium on 15th June and despite early surprise delay and confusion slowed the French advance. His plan was simple – destroy Prussian and British forces before the Austrians and Russians could arrive. The Waterloo campaign is made up of two sets of double battles, Quatre Bras and Ligny, and Wavre and Waterloo.

The Battlefield at Waterloo is small only 3 miles east/west and 1 1/2 miles deep on which massed nearly 70,000 allies and 71,000 French troops, an area which would be defended by a modern infantry company. Wellington had chosen his ground carefully since he had seen the battlefield previously. He deployed the allies on a reverse slope of a ridge to protect them from artillery fire but with a wood behind which would delay any retreat if things went badly. Two strong points would dominate the battlefield, the farm houses of Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte, these would break up the force of the French attack throughout the day. Wellington had been promised help from the Prussian General Blucher and it would be the arrival of these reinforcements late in the battle which would finally turn the tide. On such a small and muddy battlefield there was little prospect of manoeuvres so the battle became a series of brutal frontal assaults by the French showing none of Napoleon’s skill. By four in the afternoon, the Prussians had started to arrive and the French had made little progress but attrition was starting to tell on the Allied forces. A last attack by the Imperial guard was routed and panic started to spread through the French forces. The battle was finally over. The allies lost 55,000 men and French 60,000, a horrendous cost prompting Wellington to say “Nothing save a battle lost is so terrible as a battle won”. Napoleon’s last great gamble had failed and he was exiled to St Helena in the South Atlantic where he died 6 years later.

The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party

Victory in the French and Indian War was costly for the British. At the war’s conclusion in 1763, King George III and his government looked to taxing the American colonies as a way of recouping their war costs. They were also looking for ways to reestablish control over the colonial governments that had become increasingly independent while the Crown was distracted by the war. Royal ineptitude compounded the problem. A series of actions including the Stamp Act (1765), the Townsend Acts (1767) and the Boston Massacre (1770) agitated the colonists, straining relations with the mother country. But it was the Crown’s attempt to tax tea that spurred the colonists to action and laid the groundwork for the American Revolution.

The colonies refused to pay the levies required by the Townsend Acts claiming they had no obligation to pay taxes imposed by a Parliament in which they had no representation. In response, Parliament retracted the taxes with the exception of a duty on tea – a demonstration of Parliament’s ability and right to tax the colonies. In May of 1773 Parliament concocted a clever plan. They gave the struggling East India Company a monopoly on the importation of tea to America. Additionally, Parliament reduced the duty the colonies would have to pay for the imported tea. The Americans would now get their tea at a cheaper price than ever before. However, if the colonies paid the duty tax on the imported tea they would be acknowledging Parliament’s right to tax them. Tea was a staple of colonial life – it was assumed that the colonists would rather pay the tax than deny themselves the pleasure of a cup of tea.

The colonists were not fooled by Parliament’s ploy. When the East India Company sent shipments of tea to Philadelphia and New York the ships were not allowed to land. In Charleston the tea-laden ships were permitted to dock but their cargo was consigned to a warehouse where it remained for three years until it was sold by patriots in order to help finance the revolution.

In Boston, the arrival of three tea ships ignited a furious reaction. The crisis came to a head on December 16, 1773 when as many as 7,000 agitated locals milled about the wharf where the ships were docked. A mass meeting at the Old South Meeting House that morning resolved that the tea ships should leave the harbor without payment of any duty. A committee was selected to take this message to the Customs House to force release of the ships out of the harbor. The Collector of Customs refused to allow the ships to leave without payment of the duty. Stalemate. The committee reported back to the mass meeting and a howl erupted from the meeting hall. It was now early evening and a group of about 200 men, some disguised as Indians, assembled on a near-by hill. Whopping war chants, the crowd marched two-by-two to the wharf, descended upon the three ships and dumped their offending cargos of tea into the harbor waters.

Most colonists applauded the action while the reaction in London was swift and vehement. In March 1774 Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts which among other measures closed the Port of Boston. The trigger that would start the American Revolution had been pulled.