The Battle of Hastings took place in 1066 because of a disputed succession. Edward the Confessor, despite being married, had failed to produce any heir to succeed him. Therefore it is believed that he had promised William Duke of Normandy the throne in 1051 and then on his deathbed on the 28th of December it is also believed that he bequeathed the throne to Harold Godwinson.
William landed in Pevensey and quickly moved along the coast to Hastings and established his camp there. This enabled William to prepare his forces whilst waiting for Harold to come. Harold, on the other hand, had been busy fighting another claimant to the throne in the north of England just three days before his arrival.
The fighting was sparked by the arrival of William. It took place 6.5 miles away from Hastings. It started at 9 am on the 14th October 1066 ad it is believed to have been over by dusk.
The English, after centuries of fighting fought in Scandinavian fashion, being mostly on foot. At first it seemed like the English army tactics would serve them well, the shield wall tactic held firm, despite repeated assaults from Normandy.
The Norman elite, by contrast, despite their own Viking origins, had adapted during the course of the 10th century to fighting on horseback. The actions of the battle, initially appeared unconventional with Harold at the top and the Norman cavalry had to ride up the hill to engage in battle.
A crucial turning point in the battle was when a rumour ran through the Norman army that William had been killed. This resulted in many of the Norman army fleeing back. William utilised this and ran forward to demonstrate that the rumour was untrue. As a result many of the English came down the hill so the Normans turned round and attacked.