Harold Godwinson had won a great victory at Stamford Bridge, defeating a Norse army and killing its storied leader, Harald Hardrada, the mightiest warrior in the north. But for the English king, there was no time to celebrate: his erstwhile friend, William “the Bastard”, Duke of Normandy, had crossed the Channel, and landed in Kent!

(To read Part One, go here)

In the absence of the English naval levies (the Sea Fyrd) that had been dismissed back to their home ports with the coming of autumn, William had but to await good sailing weather and his rival’s distraction in the North to pounce upon England like a leopard upon his prey. Taking advantage of the opportunity the late season and the Norwegian invasion had given him, William crossed the channel on the 28th of September, just two days after Stamford Bridge.

Images of the Norman invasion preparations: Armor, weapons, and supplies being carried to the waiting ships. Note the distinctive Norman “helm-cut” hairstyle. Below, the Bayeux Tapestry depicts the scene.THE NORMANS

The Norman invasion Army of 1066 was a true combined arms force, comprised of heavy cavalry, close order infantry, and supporting archers. The mounted knights and their retainers, the elite strike force of the army, came from all across northern France: Normandy, Brittany, and Flanders. The “Age of Chivalry”, during which the armored knight on horseback was king of battle, was just dawning. The coming struggle would pit the new against the old, as mounted knights (supported by archers and heavy foot) would face an army trained in the Viking Age tactics of the “shield-wall”.

The Norman knights who followed Duke William wore a long shirt of mail, which covered from shoulder to knee, called a “hauberk”. Though the richest lords wore strong, well-riveted mail hauberks that included long sleeves and perhaps even leggings (“chausses”) of mail; the average knight’s hauberk ended at the knee, and had short sleeves and no protection below the knee. Instead, leather strips gartered the shins from ankle to knee.

The helmet worn by both the Norman knight and the elite among his English opponents were conical shaped capes of steel, sporting a nasal that protected the wearer’s nose from glancing sword strokes. Under this the knight wore a hood of mail or leather. Sometimes this mail “coif” covered the knight’s chin and jaw as well.

The Norman invasion force has variously been estimated as high as 60,000 (William of Poitiers) and as low as 7,500 strong. Though Oman suggests a figure of 12,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry [1]; Christopher Gravett of the Royal Armories more plausibly places their number at the lower end of the spectrum: 2,000 chivalric horse, 4,000 heavy foot, and 1,500 bowmen. Transportation and supply of an army much larger than this would have been problematic for William in the extreme.

William knew his rival was in the north. He also knew that time was against him: if the full English levy could be reconstituted, the numbers against him would preclude a successful battle; and his invasion force would be easily contained and would wither from starvation in Kent. With winter coming on, the Channel crossing would be closed and his supply line from Normandy cut. These strategic factors considered, William needed to bring his foe to battle, and soon.

To lure Harold south, William employed a strategy of devastation. Spreading out from a fortified base established at Hastings, Norman mounted detachments pillaged deep into Sussex; lands that were once part of Harold’s demesne as the Earl of Wessex. This was more than just a raid to replenish supplies: it was a personal insult and challenge to King Harold, to come defend his people if he dare!

(To continue, go here)


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The Battle of Brunanburh in 937 is largely unknown today, but it is a battle that deserves to be remembered. For it was the largest and bloodiest battle fought in Anglo-Saxon England prior to Hastings (and likely surpassing that later battle in the numbers of combatants involved). It left its victor, King Athelstan of Wessex the first Anglo-Saxon ruler to be called “King of England”.

Athelstan was the son and heir of Edward the Elder, and grandson of Alfred the Great. Upon his father’s death in 924, Athelstan was acclaimed first King of Mercia (central England); and then King of Wessex (the dominant Saxon kingdom, encompassing all the area south of the Thames) the following year. Continuing the ambitious, anti-Danish policies of his father and grandfather, in 927 Athelstan conquered York; which had been in Danish hands for 60 years, since captured by Ivar the Boneless and the “Great Heathen Army” in 867.

After this, Constantine II of Alba (Scotland) and Owen I, ruler of British Strathclyde (Cumberland) submitted to Athelstan’s over-lordship. This effectively placed all of “England” under Saxon rule for the first time in history. (Prior to the Danish invasion of 866, England had been comprised of four rival kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, and Wessex. The first three of these were Anglish; with Wessex the sole Saxon kingdom.)

After seven years of peace, Athelstan invaded Scottish territory. It has been suggested this was on account of Constantine’s attempt to renounce his submission to Athelstan’s over-lordship. A coalition was formed to oppose Wessex/English domination, which included the Hiberno-Scandinavian [1] ruler of Dublin, Olaf Guthfrithsson (called Anlaf in the Old-English poem “The Battle of Brunanburh“; and possibly a great-grandson of Ivar the Boneless); Owen of Strathclyde, and several “petty kings” and jarls; joining Constantine of Alba in opposition to Athelstan.

Olaf crossed the Irish Sea with a Hiberno-Scandinavian army; and marched through Cumberland, joined along the way by a force of Strathclyde British. In Northumberland they united their forces with that of Constantine’s Scots, along with various Danish jarls of northern England eagerly taking the opportunity to rise against their new Saxon overlord. This allied army met in battle the Northumbrian Fyrd (freeman-levy), commanded by Athelstan’s ealdorman, Gudrek and Alfgeir. The English were routed, with Gudrek slain. Alfgeir fled south to Athelstan, leaving Olaf and the allies in possession of Northumbria.

Athelstan realized the enormity of the danger he faced, which threatened to undo all he had thus far achieved. He acted quickly, raising an equally large army from his lands in the south; and hired Scandinavian mercenaries to strengthen his forces.

Athelstan’s army was comprised of the Fyrd of Wessex, East Anglia, and Mercia. These farmers and townsmen came armed with spear or axe. They had little armor, but two generations of wars against the Danes had created a battle-experienced force of veterans. Strengthening the Fyrdmen were the professional warriors of Athelstan’s hearth-weru(“Hearth-troops”, or household guards) and the armed retainers of the leading Ealdormen of the shires. Since the days of Alfred, such Saxon armies had bested one Viking army-after-another; and would have come to Brunanburh filled with confidence.

The numbers involved at Brunanburh are unknown; only that the armies were approximately the same size. Considering that this battle involved major forces from throughout the British Isles, with levies on either side drawn from as far afield as Ireland to Scotland, and all of England from the Cheviots to the Channel (and even a strong force of Viking mercenaries, primarily from Norway and Iceland): a figure of 15,000 per side seems reasonable.

The only complete account of this campaign and the climatic battle is found in the IcelandicEgils Saga. According to this source, a force of 300 veteran Norse/Icelander Vikings joined Athelstan’s guardsmen. These were led by two recently arrived Icelander brothers, the sons of Skallagrim (also referred to in the Saga as Skalla-Grímr, or “bald Grim”): Thorolf and Egil. It has been suggested that Athelstan hired several thousand such mercenaries, putting them all under the command of the experienced Skallagrimsson brothers.

The opposing forces met at a place called Brunanburh; or, according to Egils Saga, on a moor called Vin-heath. The location of the battle is not known for certain. But there are three leading contenders.

The first, popular today, is Bromborough in western England district known as the Wirral; southwest of modern Liverpool. Apparently the name of Bromborough may be derived from Old English Brunanburh (meaning ‘Brun’s fort’). There are also locations nearby that some have attempted to identify with the Dingesmere, a place mentioned in both the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Old English poem, The Battle of Brunanburh; in connection with the battle. But this location in the Wirral seems too far southwest for a Scot and Strathclyde army to be operating, so far from their respective home bases (particularly as there were no good north-south roads connecting this area through Cumberland to Strathclyde and Scotland in the north). It also seems too far in the west to be the location for the decisive battle of a war fought over the control of Northumbria and Yorkshire, on the other (eastern) side of the Pennines.

The second contender is Burnley, a market town in Lancashire; where local folklore tells of a great battle on the moors. Local tradition holds that five kings were buried under tumuli on these same moors. Perhaps after the defeat of the Northumbrian Ealdormen, Olaf and the allies regrouped nearer their power centers in the north. But this makes little strategic sense. Having driven Athelstan’s forces out of Northumbria, why would the coalition army then pull out, marching back north? For the same reason, I dismiss another contender, Burnswark, situated near Lockerbie.

A final, strong, choice for the battle site is in Lincolnshire, east of the Pennines, along the Great North Road between Derby and Rotherham. Historian Michael Wood suggests Tinsley Wood near Brinsworth as a plausible location. Wood notes that there is a hill nearby, White Hill, observing that the surrounding landscape fits the description of the battlefield contained in Egil’s Saga. Geographically, this location makes sense. It is in the southern part of Northumbria, where one would expect the allies (who had recently overrun Northumbria) to contest with the English for control of that region.

Wherever the battle may have been fought, it seems that the opposing armies agreed to meet at Brunanburh; the winner to take all “England”. Egils Saga portrays this arrangement of a fixed battle as the result of a ruse posed by Athelstan’s Norse captain, Egil Skallagrimsson; to stop the allies from looting English territory while the King gathered his forces. A challenge was issued to meet on a field “enhazelled”.

This was a version (writ large) of the Scandinavian dueling custom called a holmgang; in which combatants met to fight on an appointed field, the boundaries of which were marked out with hazel rods or branches. There is no other example I know of where this custom was expanded to encompass battle.

According to Egils Saga, a messenger was sent to Olaf challenging him to bring his army to meet Athelstan in battle:

(they sent) messengers to King Olaf, giving out this as their errand, that king Athelstan would fain enhazel him a field and offer battle on Vin-heath by Vin-wood; meanwhile he would have them forbear to harry his land; but of the twain he should rule England who should conquer in the battle. He appointed a week hence for the conflict, and whichever first came on the ground should wait a week for the other. Now this was then the custom, that so soon as a king had enhazelled a field, it was a shameful act to harry before the battle was ended. Accordingly king Olaf halted and harried not, but waited till the appointed day, when he moved his army to Vin-heath.

King Olaf, commanding the allies, accepted the challenge. Accordingly, he halted his army at Brunanburh (which Egils Saga say was at Vin-heath by Vin-woods); ceased ravaging the countryside about; and waited for Athelstan to arrive by the appointed day.

To the north of the heath, there was a village where Olaf made his headquarters. He sent a force of Scots and Strathclyde British commanded by two brothers, Jarls Hring and Athils, up to the heath to camp on the battleground, and stake out the allied position. They found the hazel rods already in place along the edges of the field; and an English force camped in place to the south.

As the appointed day for the battle approached, Athelstan was still gathering his forces, and needed more time. He had sent Egil and his brother Thorolf, commanding the English vanguard comprised of their own 300 Norse hirthmen, along with the remnants of the Northumbrian forces defeated earlier, under Ealdorman Alfgeir, to Brunanburh. This was the force Hring and Athils found camped on the south end of the heath.

To make their numbers appear larger, the English vanguard disguised their small numbers by pitching more tents than they had men for; and arranged for a large portion of their men to occupy themselves outside the camp in view of the enemy, as though the camp were over-flowing. When these were approached by Olaf’s men (there being a truce in place till the battle day), Athelstan’s men claimed that these tents were all full, so full that their people had to sleep out on the open heath!

When the appointed day of battle came, Olaf marshaled his army and prepared to march onto the heath. Athelstan had yet to appear. Thorolf and Egil found yet another clever way of delaying the enemy and buy the English more time: They sent an envoy to Olaf, feigning a message from King Athelstan; offering to avoid battle and pay “Danegild” to Olaf and his allies.

Instead of attacking that day, Olaf called a conference of his allies to discuss the offer. Athelstan’s supposed offer was rejected as insufficient, and the allies countered with a demand for more. The English envoys begged for time to bring this offer to King Athelstan, who they claimed was a day’s journey to the south with a “mighty host”; and for their king to consider and respond. Olaf agreed to a three day truce.

At the end of this period, the Skallagrimsson’s sent another envoy across the heath to Olaf’s camp; again claiming to be from King Athelstan. They offered the original amount; plus an additional “shilling to every freeborn man, a silver mark to every officer of a company of twelve men or more, a gold mark to every captain of a king’s guard, and five gold marks to every jarl” [2]. Again Olaf took this offer to a council of his allies, who after deliberation agreed that if Athelstan would also cede to Olaf the overlordship of Northumbria, the allies would withdraw to their homes. Another three days were granted for Olaf’s emissaries to accompany the English envoys back to Athelstan and await his answer.

Thus the clever Skallagrimsson brothers, wily Viking freebooters, stretched out negotiations and gained the English monarch an additional week to marshal his forces. Athelstan arrived with his army south of the heath at the end of the negotiations. They took Olaf’s offer to the King, explaining their ruse and their offers on his behalf as well.

The king took no time in rejecting Olaf’s terms; instead demanding that the coalition withdraw from Northumbria and return to their own lands; after first returning the booty they had thus far taken on the campaign. Adding insult to injury, Athelstan further demanded that the cost of peace would be that Olaf (and perhaps the other coalition rulers) become his vassals, ruling their lands as “under-kings”.

“Go now back”, he told Olaf’s emissaries, “and tell him this.”

According to Egils Saga:

At once that same evening the messengers turned back on their way, and came to king Olaf about midnight; they then waked the king, and told him straightway the words of king Athelstan. The king instantly summoned his earls and other captains; he then caused the messengers to come and declare the issue of their errand and the words of Athelstan. But when this was made known before the soldiers, all with one mouth said that this was now before them, to prepare for battle.

Realizing he had been hoodwinked all along and now enraged, Olaf sent his Jarls, Hring and Athils, back to their troops encamped on the heath, with orders to attack the English advance guard under the wily Skallagrim brothers at first light. He promised to marshal the army and move to support them as soon as his forces were ready.

(To continue reading, go here)

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My ever-loving girlfriend pointed out that it would be uber-useful to have a reference guide to all of the various pieces Deadliest Blogger has written over the years; placing each in it historical order. Well, her wish is my command!

Here is a list of all of my historical pieces, placed within a chronological timeline:


The Art of War: Warriors of the Pharaohs: 16th-12th century BC, a look at the warriors of ancient Egypt, focusing upon depictions in art; part of series, “Art (work) of War”



The Art of War: Heroes of Troy and Mycenae: 15th-12th century BC, a look at the warriors of the Greek “Heroic Age”, focusing upon depictions in art; part of series, “Art (work) of War”

05 Pyrrhus 2The 25 Greatest Commanders of the Ancient World: 1475 BC- 476 AD, the Deadliest Blogger’s list of the top commanders of the era, with brief bios




Spartans: Elite Warriors of Ancient Greece: 6th-4th century BC, a multi-part series on the warrior-heroes of Ancient Greece



1417290-aGreat Warships of History: The Greek Trireme: 5th century BC, the “wooden walls” that allowed the tiny Greek city-states to fend off the mighty Persian Empire, and for Athens to establish a maritime empire of its own; part of the “Great Warships of History” series

The Lion at the Hot Gates: Thermopylae 480 BC: Sparta’s finest hour  came in 480 BC, when a brave king led 300 volunteers to a narrow pass in the north of Greece; to buy time with their lives while their countrymen prepared for war

Greece is Save By Its Wooden Walls: 480 BC, as the Great King Xerxes watches from the cliffs above, the Persian invasion of Greece is checked in the narrow straits of Salamis; in one of history’s greatest galley battles


1551560Spartan Invincibility is Destroyed at Leuctra: 371 BC, the Spartan dominance of Greece is broken and a Spartan king slain by the Thebans; who are led by the brilliant Epamonidas



Great Captains: Alexander the Great: 4th century BC, examination of perhaps history’s greatest general; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”


Granicus: Alexander’s Most Perilous Battle: 334 BC, Alexander the Great’s first battle against the Persians nearly ends in his death


Diadochi: Macedonian Game of Thrones: 321 BC – 281 BC, war and intrigue follow the death of Alexander the Great, as his family and generals struggle over his empire; multi-part series


Armies of the Successors: The Antigonids: 4th-2nd century BC, the army of Macedonia following Alexander the Great


Armies of the Successors: The Seleucids: 4th-2nd century BC, the army of the Macedonian empire of the near east established by the general of  Alexander the Great


Armies of the Successors: The Ptolemies: 4th-1st century BC, the army of the Macedonian-Egyptian kingdom of Cleopatra and her ancestors


Great Captains: Hannibal Barca: 3th century BC, examination of the great Carthaginian general who challenged Rome in the Second Punic War; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”

Breaching the Alps: Hannibal’s Icy Ordeal: 218 BC, the Second Punic War, Hannibal beats the odds and gets his army of tens-of-thousands across the frozen Alps


Cannae: Hannibal’s Masterpiece: 216 BC, Second Punic War leads to one of Rome’s greatest defeats, and a establishes Hannibal as one of history’s greatest generals


Phalanx vs Legion: Closing the Debate: 3rd-1st Century BC, historians and military gamers argue endlessly over the relative merits of the two competing tactical systems: the Macedonian-style phalanx and the Roman legion. How each worked, why, and which was superior

Mad Kings and Maccabees: the First Hanukkah: 2nd century BC, a mad king threatens to extinguish Judaism; and in the struggle to maintain their identity the Jews find a mighty champion: Judah “the Hammer”


Disaster In the Desert: Crassus at Carrhae: 54 BC, and the conqueror of Spartacus and co-ruler of the Roman Republic leads an army into Mesopotamia; in an effort to replicate the conquests of Alexander the Great. Instead, he meets his doom beneath the desert sun at the hands of the nomadic Parthians

caesar-bustGreat Captains: Julius Caesar: 1st century BC, examination of one of histories greatest generals, the “noblest Roman of them all”; part of the series, “Great Captains of War”



Adrianople: Twilight of the Legions: 378, the battle often blamed for the fall of the Roman Empire is reexamined



The Age of Arthur: 5th-6th century Britain; the “historical” King Arthur, his world and the creation of Anglo-Saxon England.  Multi-part series.


Attila is Stopped at the Catalaunian Fields: 451, the Hunnish invasion of Gaul comes to a climax near Chalons, as the Roman Empire nears its end


belisarius-2Belisarius at Darus: 530, Byzantium’s greatest general wins his first and perhaps greatest victory over the Sassanid Persians; giving the world a masterly demonstration of the use of interior lines to outmaneuver an enemy



1432785aDark Ages Elite: The Bucellarii of Belisarius: 6th-early 7th century, the first in a multi-part series on the elite warriors of the Dark Ages (476-1066 AD). Belisarius’ household retainers led the Byzantine military conquests of Justinian, and were the model for Byzantine kataphractoi in the subsequent centuries


Great Warships of History: Byzantine Fire Dromon: 7th – 12th century, Byzantium is protected at sea by swift galleys bearing one of history’s most secret weapons, “Greek Fire”; part of the “Great Warships of History” series

Dark Ages Elite: Caballarii of Charlemagne: 8th-9th century, the elite Frankish horsemen who were the prototype for the chivalric heroes of the Medieval legend; part of the “Elite Warriors of the Dark Ages” series


The Vikings: An Enduring Fascination: 793 – 1066, a brief history of the most ferocious warriors of the Dark Ages, and why they continue to engage our interest to this day


England is Born at Bloody Brunanburh: 937, the Anglo-Saxons are united under the rule of Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, the first king of “England”. At Brunanburh he faces a challenge from by a Viking and Scottish army and the Danish lords of the north

Dark Ages Elite: The Jomsvikings: 10th-11th century, continuing the multi-part series on the elite warriors of the Dark Ages (476-1066 AD). The Jomsvikings were an elite Viking brotherhood that was the progenitor of late elite units

Carnage at Clontarf: Ireland’s Darkest Day: 1014, Irish unity is shattered with the death of her greatest national hero, Brian Boru, High King of Ireland; as he stops a Viking army at Clontarf

Dark Ages Elite: Anglo-Saxon Huscarls: 11th century, continuing the multi-part series on the elite warriors of the Dark Ages (476-1066 AD). The Huscarls were the professional warriors who warded the last Anglo-Danish kings of England



1408160Elite Warriors of the Dark Ages: Norman Knight: 11th-12th century, the elite armored horsemen who conquered England, Ireland, and led the First Crusade; part of the “Elite Warriors of the Dark Ages” series



1066: A Bloody and Momentous Year: Three men contend for the crown of England; and change the course of British history


Elite Warriors of the Dark Ages: Varangian Guard: 11th-14th century, the elite axe-bearing Viking and later English guard of the Byzantine emperors; part of the “Elite Warriors of the Dark Ages” series




Manzikert.jpgThe Terrible Day: Disaster at Manzikert: 1071, Christian Byzantium is betrayed and Muslim Turkey is born on a remote battlefield in Armenia




22853_Otto-IThe 25 Greatest Commanders of the Middle Ages: 475-1453, the Deadliest Blogger’s list of the top commanders, with brief bios of each.

The Crusades: A Politically Incorrect View: 1095 – 1204, a look at the Crusades, their cause and effect, without the lens of multi-cultural “PC” nonsense that has so distorted the history in recent tellings; a multi-part series


Great Captains: Chingis Khan: 13th century, history’s greatest conqueror, creator of the largest land empire; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”


Legnicia 1

Legnica: The Mongol Terror Reaches Poland
: 1241, the Polish and Teutonic knights face the Middle Ages greatest war machine as the Mongols invade Europe



End of the Caliphate: The Mongol Sack of Baghdad: 1258, the last of the ancient Abbasid Caliph’s of Baghdad dies at the hands of the heirs of Genghis Khan


Slaughter in the Mud:Henry V at Agincourt: 1415, the original “band of brothers” make a heroic stand on St. Crispins Day


A Most Sanguinary Affair: Bloody Towton: 1461, the War of the Roses reaches a climax in the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil


The War of the Roses Ends at Bloody Bosworth: 1485, the battle that established the Tudor Dynasty, and ended the Plantagenet



The 25 Greatest Commanders of the Renaissance: 1453-1650, the Deadliest Blogger’s list of the top commanders, with brief bios



panipat_main-bMughal: “The Tiger” Founds an Empire at Panipat: 1525, the Mughal Empire of India is established by Babur’s use of cannons to defeat the Sultan of Dehli



Great Warships of History: Korean Turtle Ship: 1590s, the Japanese Samurai invasion of Korea tis thwarted by history’s first ironclad warships; part of the “Great Warships of History” series

Gustave_Adolphe_at_Breitenfeld-Johann_Walter-f3706497The Lion of the North Roars at Breitenfield: 1631, The Thirty Years War and Gustavus Adolphus wins his greatest victory


revenge-2Great Warships of History: Revenge, Race-Built Galleon: 16th century, the radically redesigned English warships that helped Britain rule the seas; part of the “Great Warships of History” series



The Last Hurrah of the Winged Hussars: 1683, Europe is saved as the Siege of Vienna ends in history’s greatest cavalry charge



18th – 19th CENTURY

Great Warships of History: The Ship of the Line: 17th-19th century, the king of the high seas in the Age of Sail; part of the “Great Warships of History” series


fritzGreat Captains: Frederick the Great: 18th century, a look at Prussia’s “Old Fritz”, one of history’s greatest soldiers; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”



article-0-183b67b900000578-145_640x816Great Captains: Napoleon Bonaparte: Late 18th-early 19th century, examination of France’s greatest conqueror  and one of history’s greatest generals; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”



Sabres in the Snow: Murat at Eylau, 1807! Napoleon reverses impending defeat by ordering his cavalry Marshal to lead a titanic charge against the Russian center


Napoleon’s Last Campaign: 1815, the “Waterloo Campaign” series, and final fall of Napoleon. Could “Le Emperor” have reversed his fortunes and saved his Empire?


alamo-213 Days of Glory: the Alamo, 1836:  the true story of the heroic siege and Texas’ struggle for independence


gandamuck-2Massacre in the Passes: Elphinstone’s Disaster: 1842, the First Afghan War comes to a climax with the calamitous death of an army in the frozen passes


Great Captains: Nathan Bedford Forrest: 1861-1865, the greatest natural military genius in American history, the “Wizard of the Saddle” was the Civil War’s most feared and hated general; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”


Zulu: Death and Redemption in the African Sun: 1879, the British Empire suffers a humiliating defeat at the hands of Africa’s greatest warriors; but redeem their honor with a glorious stand at the mission station at Rorke’s Drift


The British Face the Fuzzy Wuzzies at Abu Klea: 1885, the British expeditionary force in the Sudan is attacked by Dervish forces near the well at Abu Klea. For a few desperate minutes, the British square was breached and the army in deadly danger


Juramentado: Moro Suicidal Assassins: First decade of the 20th century, American forces in the Philippine Islands faced targeted attacks from suicidal Moro (Muslim) assassins “running amok”

Germany’s Schlieffen Plan: A Study in Economy of Force: 1914, the Chief of the German Imperial Staff comes up with a bold plan to end the impending war on the Western Front in rapid fashion, before it could stalemate; what went wrong?

Great Captains: George Smith Patton, Jr: 1940-1945, America’s most flamboyant and brilliant general of World War Two, “Old Blood and Guts”; part of series on the “Great Captains of War”

Great Warships of History: The Bismarck: World War Two, the storied German raider that led to the greatest sea-chase in history; part of the “Great Warships of History” series

The Devil’s Guard: Hitler’s Waffen SS: World War Two, a multi-part examination of the most hated and feared military organization in modern history, Nazi Germany’s elite SS


Great Warships of History: The Yamato: World War Two, the Imperial Japanese Navy’s super-Battleship, sporting the larges guns ever mounted on any ship; part of the “Great Warships of History” series


God Sides With the Big Battalions: When it comes to war, a great general once said that God sides with “whichever side has the biggest battalions”. While nations fielding smaller, higher-quality forces sometimes win battles; history shows that ultimate victory usually goes to the larger power

300: Rise of An Empire Review: Deadliest Blogger reviews the sequel to “300”. If you liked 2006’s blockbuster film, “300”, with its hyperbolic and highly stylized fantasy retelling of historical Battle of Thermopylae, you will likely enjoy this 2014 sequel.

Deadliest Bloggers’ Greatest Quotes on War: Part One

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Two 

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Three

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Four

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Five

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Six

Deadliest Blogger’s Greatest Quotes on War: Part Seven

“History Bites”: The Fork, “a Hateful Vanity”



“History Bites”: Son of a Gun



If World War One Were a Bar Fight!




If World War Two Were a Bar Fight!







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The 30 Years War had raged for ten years, and for the Protestant cause it had been a string of disasters! Then a new champion took-up the sword to defend the faith against the Catholic armies of the Empire: Gustavus Adolphus, the “Lion of the North”! In his first battle against the ever-victorious army of Catholic League General Tilly, the Swedish king would prove his name and renown!

In 1628, the Hapsburg dream of a united Catholic Germany, ruled from Vienna, seemed nearly realized. Ten years into what would become known as the Thirty Years War, Catholic-Imperialist forces had crushed all opposition from Bohemia to Denmark. The Protestant Electors of the Rhine principalities had been humbled, the Czechs brought back into the Catholic fold, and the Danes defeated and humiliated. By 1630, the Imperial armies of Tillyand Wallenstein were camped along the Baltic shores, with Germany seemingly pacified behind them.

Only Protestant Sweden, across the icy waters, remained defiant.

When King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden crossed the Baltic and landed in Germany with a mere 13,000 men, the Hapsburg Emperor Ferdinand II sneered, “So, we have another little enemy!”


(To continue reading, go here)

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“We saw it! The hussars let loose their horses: God, what power! They ran through the smoke and the sound was like that of a thousand blacksmiths beating with a thousand hammers. Jezus Maria! The lances bent forward like stalks of rye driven by a great storm, bent on glory! They crash into the Swedish reiters…Overwhelming them! They sliced without effort through the whole army…”

This breathless account of a 17th century battle from Potop (“The Deluge”), by Henry Sienkievich captures well the furious charge of the famed Polish “Winged Hussars”. For roughly a century (1576-1683) they were the premiere cavalry in Europe, if not the world. In battle-after-battle, their crushing charge dealt the coup-de-grace to every enemy they faced. While suffering the occasional (even crushing) defeat, their century-long record of success is unsurpassed in the annals of cavalry warfare.

The towarzysz (“comrades”) of the Polish Husaria were armored lancers, their primary weapon the very long (and light) kopia. This differed from the standard lance of the Medieval knights in that it was hollow, thus allowing greater length without commensurate weight. Many writers have opined as to the reason for the great length of the 18-21 foot kopia; suggesting that it was to give the lancer greater reach in order to defeat the pike-armed infantry formations of the day. But its use in such an action is only apparent in one battle of the many the Husaria engaged in; and accounts differ as to wither or not on that occasion the enemy square was broken by flank or frontal attack.

As backup weapon, the Hussar carried a variety of weapons: sabre, long sword, mace and even war-hammer (“nadziak”). Pistols, musketoons, and even composite bows could be carried as well.

The most famous piece of a Hussar’s equipment was his wings.

These varied over the heyday of the Husaria, from mere wings painted on or hanging from the Hussars shield; to two large “skoklosters“, hooped wooden frames onto which eagle feathers were attached. These latter were mounted on the Hussars back, or the back of his saddle.

The purpose of the wings is controversial. Some writers suggested that the wings made a frightening noise when the Hussar was at a gallop. This is almost certainly apocryphal: modern reenactor Rik Fox of the Los Angles-Based Suligowski’s Regiment Husariareenactment group assures me that no such sound is apparent; or would be heard above the din of battle, in any case. Others have put forth the theory that the fluttering wings frightened enemy horses unaccustomed to the sight; which might cause the mounts of enemy cavalry charging against the Hussars to balk. This is more plausible: the fluttering lance pennants and feathers might indeed “spook” an enemy horse unaccustomed to the sight. It has also been suggested that the wing-frames may have acted to deflect Tartar lassos or enemy sabre cuts.

All that we know for sure is that they lent the Hussars a unique and spectacular appearance.

Though for a time the strongest state in Eastern Europe, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was beset by a plethora of enemies. Though its Hussars could tip the scales and win battles, these were a relatively small, elite force; never exceeding 3,000 armored lancers. Despite such battlefield successes as they enjoyed, the far-flung kingdom was beset on all sides by aggressive neighbors. Ultimately Poland was for time overrun and on the verge of collapse (the “Deluge”, 1648-1667).

But Poland reemerged, and in 1683 under its heroic king, Jan Sobieski, the Hussars enjoyed their most celebrated success; riding forth to save Europe one last time from the tide of Islam!


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On an arid upland valley in Armenia, one hot August day in 1071, the Roman/Byzantine army marched out of camp to battle the forces of the Turkish Sultan, Alp Arslan. There, near the town of Manzikert, the course of medieval history and the map of the Near East would be changed forever. It was a seminal moment, one that would set in motion a chain of events whose impact is felt to this day.


Roman scouting was unaccountably poor, and the first indication the Romans had that a large Turkish army was in the vicinity was when foraging parties were driven-in by large, aggressive bands of Turkish horse archers. A considerable force of Roman regular cavalry, under Basilakes, Dux of Theodosiopolis (a Roman fortress town near the eastern frontier, now the modern Turkish Erzurum) was dispatched to drive off what was thought to be just small groups of Turkish raiders. Instead, Basilakes blundered into the Sultan’s army, and his force was annihilated. Another contingent under Nikephoros Byrennios, commander of the forces of the European Themes, was dispatched to aid Basilakes. These too were roughly handled, and retreated back into the Imperial Camp.

As swarms of Turkish horsemen poured into the far end of the valley, the Emperor and his commanders realized this was no raiding force, but the Sultan’s main army.

The Sultan now sent a delegation to request a cessation of hostilities; but, as earlier in the year, Romanus rejected this overture.

The following morning, August 26th, 1071 the last great native Roman army the Empire would ever field marched out of camp and prepared for battle.

(To read article, go here)

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On 22 August 1485 the War of the Roses reached a bloody climax at Bosworth Field. Here, Richard III, England’s most controversial king, defended his crown against the Lancastrian champion, Henry Tudor.

The thirty-year long Wars of the Roses was a dynastic struggle between rival branches of the ruling royal family of England, the Plantagenet. These two Houses, cadet branches of the Plantagenet, were descended from sons of the prolific Edward III: the House of York, whose symbol was the white rose, and the House of Lancaster, represented by the red.

After the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1461 and the subsequent execution of the Lancastrian king, Henry VI, the war seemed to have come to close. The Yorkist leaderEdward IV was firmly in command of his kingdom; and would rule undisturbed till his death in 1483. However, Edward left as heir his son Edward, not yet thirteen years old. The dead monarch’s younger brother, Richard of Gloucester was named as guardian for the young prince and Lord Protector of the Realm.

The War of the Roses raged across the map of Britain for 30 years, decimating the nobility of England.Throughout his brother’s reign (and the struggle for Yorkist victory that established it) Richard of Gloucester had ever been Edward’s capable, trusted, and loyal lieutenant. As Warden of the North he had proven himself an able captain; successfully campaigning against the Scots, temporarily occupying Edinburgh and capturing the mighty fortress of Berwick in 1482. But as Lord Protector for his young nephew, King Edward V, Richard quickly found his authority challenged by his brother’s widow, the Queen Mother Elizabeth Woodville and her ambitious family.

In the brief struggle for power that followed, Richard outmaneuvered the Woodvilles and took custody of both the young king-to-be and his brother, Prince Richard. The two princes were lodged in the Tower of London; then still used as a royal residence as well as a prison for the most important of prisoners. Over the next month, the boys coronation was postponed; while rumors were circulated that the marriage of Edward IV to Elisabeth Woodville had been illegal. The prince was ultimately disinherited, and on 25 June, an assembly of Lords and Commons declared Richard to be the legitimate king; later confirmed by act of parliament.

Thus began the reign of Richard III, perhaps England’s most controversial king.

The displacement of his brother’s son and heir alienated some supporters of the House of York. The disappearance of the two princes in the tower and rumors of their murder (later confirmed) further tainted Richard’s reign with the charges of usurpation and regicide.

Though there is no evidence that Richard was a “bad king”, division within the Yorkist ranks invited adherents of the House of Lancaster to plot a renewal of the War of the Roses. Taking advantage of the disaffection, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, scion of the Lancastrian dynasty, landed in Wales on August 7, 1485 with a force of French mercenaries.

(Artwork by Graham Turner, “Bosworth 1485: Last Charge of the Plantagenets” by Christopher Gravett, © Osprey Publishing, part of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc)

Wales was a traditional Lancastrian stronghold; and this combined with Henry Tudor’s half-Welsh ancestry allowed him to gather to his standard a sizable force of Welsh troops and remnants of the Lancastrian cause. Welshmen comprised the largest part of his forces; with few, in fact, being English.

Though inexperienced at war, Henry had for advisor and commander the veteran warrior,John de Vere, Earl of Oxford; who had commanded the Lancastrian rightwing at the Battle of Barnet. While he could expect to be outnumbered by the Royal forces Richard would bring to bear, Henry had an “ace up his sleeve”: His mother’s husband, Thomas Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby and Lord of (the Island of) Man.

Stanley was a veteran courtier and intriguer. He was married to Henry Tudor’s formidable mother, Margaret Beaufort; a descendant herself of Edward III on her father’s side. She was a confirmed and dedicated Lancastrian, and for years had been preparing the way for her son to raise again the standard of the Lancastrian cause.

Portrait of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond (the future Henry VII) as a younger man.As Henry Tudor marched through Wales, he was in communication with his stepfather; who through the agency of his brother, Lord Sir William Stanley, Chamberlain of Chester and north Wales, opened the way through the countryside to Tudor’s Army. Richard, of course, was not ignorant of Lord Stanley’s connection to his enemy; and of the Stanley’s complicity in Tudor’s invasion. His relations with Lord Stanley were strained and had been for over a decade; the enmity between the two erupting into violence in 1470. Wary of Stanley, Richard took Stanley’s son, Lord Strange, as hostage to discourage Stanley from openly joining Tudor’s army.

Meanwhile, Richard called the lords of the realm to assemble under his banner at Leicester on the 16th of August. Many of Richard’s vassals failed to answer the royal summons. The chief lords who did join their king were John Howard Duke of Norfolk, and his son-and-heirThomas, Earl of Surrey; and Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland. While the Howards were loyal to Richard and the Yorkist cause, Percy is thought to have harbored deep jealousy of Richard dating from his time as Warden of the Northern Marches (a title usually held by a Percy) and the renown Richard had gained in his Scottish campaign. Both Percy and Howard held chief commands during the coming battle: Norfolk commanding the Yorkist Vanguard, and Northumberland the Rearguard/Reserve. On August 20, the royal army, with the arms of England flying overhead alongside Richard’s personal standard, displaying a White Boar; marched from Leicester to intercept Henry’s army, on route to London from Shrewsbury.

Three armies converged on a field south of Bosworth Market, 13 miles west of Leicester: Richard’s, numbering 10,000; Henry Tudor’s army, numbering 5,000; and that of the Stanley brothers, some 6,000 strong. The Stanleys had been in close communication with Tudor, and were ostensibly his ally. However, on the day of battle, they refused to declare themselves one-way-or-another; making the Battle of Bosworth Field a three-sided affair.

Richards took up a position on Ambion Hill, a strong position dominating the battlefield. Elevation aside, it was protected (or constricted, as events would show) by a marsh in the low ground to the left. Richard’s deployment is disputed: Norfolk’s “Van” may have been in the front or on the right of the Yorkist forces; with Richard, commanding the “Main” behind this (or in the center) at the crest of the hill. Northumberland deployed his 4,000 man “Rear” behind or to the left of Richard’s “Main”.

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