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have I seen a man so fairly armed, nor one who rode so gallantly, or bore his arms, or became his hauberk so well; neither any one who bore his lance so gracefully, or sat his horse and managed him so nobly. There is no such knight under heaven! a fair count he is, and fair king he will be. Let him fight, and he shall overcome; shame be to the man who shall fail him.'
“Then the duke called for the standard which the pope had sent him, and he who bore it having unfolded it, the duke took it and called to Raol de Conches. 'Bear my standard,' said he, 'for I would not but do you right; by right and by ancestry your line are standard-bearers of Normandy, and very good knights have they all been.' But Raol said that he would serve the duke that day in other guise, and would fight the English with his hand as long as life should last. Then the duke bade Galtier Giffart bear the standard. But he was old and white-headed, and bade the duke give the standard to some younger and stronger man to carry. Then the duke said fiercely, ‘By the splendor of God, my lords, I think you mean to betray and fail me in this great need.' 'Sire,' said Giffart, 'not so! we have done no treason, nor do I refuse from any felony toward you; but I have to lead a great chivalry, both hired men and the men of my fief. Never had I such good means of serving you as I now have; and, if God please, I will serve you; if need be, I will die for you, and will give my own heart for yours.
“ 'By my faith,' quoth the duke, 'I always loved thee, and now I love thee more; if I survive this day, thou shalt be the better for it all thy days.' Then he called out a knight, whom he had heard much praised, Tosteins Fitz-Rou le Blanc by name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux. To him he delivered the standard; and Tosteins took it right cheerfully, and bowed low to him in thanks, and bore it gallantly, and with good heart. His kindred still have quittance of all service for their inheritance on this account, and their heirs are entitled so to hold their inheritance forever.
"William sat on his war-horse, and called out Rogier, whom they call De Montgomeri. 'I rely much on you,' said he; 'lead your men thitherward, and attack them from that side. William, the son of Osber, the seneschal, a right good vassal, shall
you and help in the attack, and you shall have the men of Boilogne and Poix, and all my soldiers. Alain Fergert and Ameri shall attack on the other side; they shall lead the Poitevins and the Bretons, and all the barons of Maine; and I, with my own great men, my friends and kindred, will fight in the middle throng, where the battle shall be the hottest.'
“The barons, and knights, and men-at-arms were all now armed; the foot-soldiers were well equipped, each bearing bow and sword; on their heads were caps, and to their feet were bound buskins. Some had good hides which they had bound round their bodies; and many were clad in frocks, and had quivers and bows hung to their girdles. The knights had hauberks and swords, boots of steel, and shining helmets; shields at their necks, and in their hands lances. And all had their cognizances, so that each might know his fellow, and Norman might not strike Norman, nor Frenchman kill his countryman by mistake. Those on foot led the way, with serried ranks, bearing their bows. The knights rode next, supporting the archers from behind. Thus both horse and foot kept their course and order of march as they began, in close ranks at a gentle pace, that the one might not pass or separate from the other. All went firmly and compactly, bearing themselves gallantly.
“Harold had summoned his men, earls, barons and vavasors, from the castles and the cities, from the ports, the villages and boroughs. The peasants were also called together from the villages, bearing such arms as they found; clubs and great picks, iron forks and stakes. The English had inclosed the place where Harold was with his friends and the barons of the country whom he had summoned and called together.
"Those of London had come at once, and those of Kent, of Hertfort, and of Essesse. All who could bear arms, and had learned the news of the duke's arrival, came to defend the land. But none came from beyond Humbre, for they had other business upon their hands, the Danes and Tosti having much damaged and weakened them.
"Harold knew that the Normans would come and attack him hand to hand, so he had early inclosed the field in which he had placed his men. He made them arm early, and range themselves for the battle, he himself having put on arms and equipments that became such a lord. The duke, he said, ought to seek him, as he wanted to conquer England; and it became him to abide the attack who had to defend the land. Ile commanded the people, and counseled his barons to keep themselves all to
gether, and defend themselves in a body; for if they once separated, they would with difficulty recover themselves. "The Normans,' he said, 'are good vassals, valiant on foot and on horseback; good knights are they on horseback, and well used to battle; all is lost if they once penetrate our ranks. They have brought long lances and swords, but you have pointed lances and keen-edged bills; and I do not expect that their arms can stand against yours. Cleave whenever you can; it will be ill done if you spare aught.'
“The English had built up a fence before them with their shields, and with ash and other wood, and had well joined and wattled in the whole work, so as not to leave even a crevice; and thus they had a barricade in their front through which any Norman who would attack them must first pass. Being covered in this way by their shields and barricades, their aim was to defend themselves; and if they had remained steady for that purpose, they would not have been conquered that day; for every Norman who made his way in, lost his life in dishonor, either by hatchet or bill, by club or other weapon. They wore short and close hauberks, and helmets that hung over their garments. King Harold issued orders, and made proclamation round, that all should be ranged with their faces toward the enemy, and that no one should move from where he was, so that whoever came might find them ready; and that whatever any one, be he Norman or other, should do, each should do his best to defend his own place. Then he ordered the men of Kent to go where the Normans were likely to make the attack; for they say that the men of Kent are entitled to strike first; and that whenever the king goes to battle, the first blow belongs to them. The right of the men of London is to guard the king's body, and to guard his standard; and they were accordingly placed by the standard to watch and defend it.
“When Harold had made all ready, and given his orders, he came into the midst of the English and dismounted by the side of the standard; Leofwin and Gurth, his brothers, were with him; and around him he had barons enough, as he stood by his standard, which was, in truth, a noble one, sparkling with gold and precious stones. After the victory William sent it to the pope, to prove and commemorate his great conquest and glory. The English stood in close ranks, ready and eager for the fight; and they, moreover, made a fosse, which went across the field, guarding one side of their army.
Meanwhile the Normans appeared advancing over the ridge of a rising ground, and the first division of their troops moved onward along the hill and across a valley. And presently another division, still larger, came in sight, close following upon the first, and they were led toward another part of the field, forming together as the first body had done. And while Harold saw and examined them, and was pointing them out to Gurth, a fresh company came in sight, covering all the plain; and in the midst of them was raised the standard that came from Rome. Near it was the duke, and the best men and greatest strength of the army were there. The good knights, the good vassals and brave warriors were there; and there were gathered together the gentle barons, the good archers, and the