Battle of Northam
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The Battle of Northam was fought in
Northam, Devon Northam () is a market town, civil parish and electoral ward in Devon, England, lying north of Bideford. The civil parish also includes the villages of Westward Ho!, Appledore, Torridge, Appledore, West Appledore, Diddywell, Buckleigh and Silford, ...
in 1069 between a
Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of Normandy, descended from ...

Norman
force led by
Brian of Brittany Brian of Brittany (c. 1042 – 14 February, perhaps bef. 1086) was a Brittany, Breton nobleman who fought in the service of William I of England. A powerful magnate in south-western England, he was the first post-Norman conquest of England, Conqu ...
and an
Anglo Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling ...
army commanded by Godwin and
Edmund Edmund is a masculine given name or surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community. Practices vary by culture. The family name may be pl ...
, two sons of the late English king
Harold Godwinson Harold Godwinson ( – 14 October 1066), also called Harold II, was the last crowned Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is be ...
. The Normans inflicted heavy casualties on the Saxons and forced them to retreat from
Devon Devon (, archaically known as Devonshire) is a Counties of England, county in South West England, reaching from the Bristol Channel in the north to the English Channel in the south. It is bounded by Cornwall to the west, Somerset to the north ...

Devon
.


Background

English King Harold Godwinson was defeated and killed in the
Battle of Hastings The Battle of Hastings or nrf, Batâle dé Hastings was fought on 14 October 1066 between the Norman-French army of William, the Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Cu ...

Battle of Hastings
by the Norman
William the Conqueror William I (c. 1028Bates ''William the Conqueror'' p. 33 – 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first House of Normandy, Norman List of English monarchs, monarch of Engl ...

William the Conqueror
, who subsequently took control of most of southern England. However much of the west and north remained only nominally in or completely out of William’s control. This allowed many members of Harold’s family to continue operating with power, such as his mother Gytha and his sons by
Edith Edith is a feminine given name Image:FML names-2.png, Diagram of naming conventions, using John F. Kennedy as an example. "First names" can also be called given names; "last names" can also be called surnames or family names. This shows a stru ...
, his unofficial wife, who were called Godwin,
Edmund Edmund is a masculine given name or surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates their family, tribe or community. Practices vary by culture. The family name may be pl ...
and Magnus, son of Harold Godwinson, Magnus.


Prelude

In January 1068 King William personally led an army to Siege of Exeter (1068), besiege Exeter, the biggest city in Devon, which was Gytha’s main power base. After an 18-day siege the city surrendered and Gytha fled. Godwin, Edmund and Magnus, who were likely at the siege, fled to Ireland to seek help from Diarmait mac Máel na mBó, Diarmait, the High King of Ireland. Diarmait had previously helped their father, in 1052. Diarmat gave the brothers a fleet of 52 ships and a small army to resist the Normans and they returned to Devon and began raiding. By now William had gone, but he had left a large force to garrison the area, led by Eadnoth the Constable, Eadnoth the Staller, who engaged the brothers at the Battle of Bleadon. The exact outcome of the battle is unknown, but Eadnoth was killed, and the Saxons retreated to their ships. Magnus is not mentioned after this battle, so he may have died as well. The battle must not have been decisive, since the Saxons continued to raid the coast of Devon and Cornwall with their fleet, before eventually returning to Ireland. Here Diarmat supplied them with more forces, bolstering their number to 64 ships and a large enough force to fully challenge the Normans in the southwest.


Battle

In June 1069 the brothers returned with their army, landing at a small village in Devon called Appledore, Torridge, Appledore. They advanced to Northam and began raiding the area. The Norman army, now under command of the king’s second cousin, Brian of Brittany, and the noble William De Vauville, quickly arrived in the area and attacked the Saxons. The size of both armies is unknown, but estimated at a few thousand each. The Normans however had superior troops, with Brian commanding a large force of Bretons, Breton Knight, knights. The scattered raiders were quickly pushed back to Appledore, where they joined up with the rest of their army. However, they found their ships stranded, as the tide had moved out. The Saxons had already suffered casualties and still faced the Norman knights. For many hours the Normans launched repeated attacks against the Anglo-Saxon shield wall, in almost exactly the same way the early stages of the Battle of Hastings had played out. The Saxon line never broke, but they took heavy casualties. As night came, the tide finally returned, and the Saxons escaped to sea, ending the battle.


Aftermath

The Saxons had took 1,700 casualties, possibly more than half their army, and so were unable to continue their campaign. The brothers returned to Ireland, where Diarmat told them he either could not or would not supply them with more forces. The brothers moved on to Denmark, possibly hoping to receive new help from King Sweyn II of Denmark, Sweyn II Estridsson. However that help clearly must not have come, sunce the brothers soon disappeared from history. Thus, the Battle of Northam marks the end of the attempts of Harold’s successors to reclaim the throne of England.


References

{{reflist 1069 in England History of Devon Norman conquest of England Torridge District 11th-century conflicts Invasions of England