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The Battle of Hastings

"The knights came to their rescue, and those who had been in the rear advanced to the fore. Disdaining to fight from a distance, they attacked boldly with their swords. The loud shouting, here Norman, there foreign, was drowned by the clash of weapons and the groans of the dying. So for a time both sides fought with all their might. The English were greatly helped by the advantage of the higher ground, which they held in serried ranks without sallying forward, and also by their great numbers and densely-packed mass, and moreover by their weapons of war, which easily penetrated shields and other protections. So they strongly held or drove back those who dared to attack them with drawn swords."

William of Poitiers, "Gesta Guillelmi"

One of the most fearsome weapons on the battlefield was the Norse battle axe, used primarily by the English foot soldier. Five feet long with a "bearded" blade longer at the bottom than at the top, it was wielded with deadly effect, either to decapitate a man or cleave the skull of a horse.