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Was Harold hit in the eye?


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According to legend, King Harold Godwinson was killed by an arrow which hit him in the eye.

The things we know about the battle come from sources.  However, not all the sources tell the same things.

Some say that King Harold was killed by sword,  some say he was killed by an arrow, and some don't even describe his death.

The Bayeux Tapestry is an important source.  The legend of Harold being hit in the eye comes from the tapestry.  The Bayeux Tapestry clearly shows Harold's death. 

There is a picture of a soldier being hit by an arrow, and the word "Harold" is right above him (see images on the left).  Under the Latin words 'Interfectus Est' (was killed) we see a soldier being hacked down by a sword.

Historians used to think that King Harold was the first figure,  the soldier with the arrow in his eye.  They thought that the other figure was just another soldier.

However, if we look closely the tapestry, it is possible to see stitch marks by the head of the second figure.  These would have shown an arrow.

Can you see the stitch marks?

This probably means that both figures are meant to be Harold.  He is shown being hit by an arrow and then being killed by a horseman.  

We will never really know.  Harold may have been hit in the eye with an arrow, but he was probably killed by Norman horsemen. 

It's a legendary story anyway!

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Last updated Wednesday, 02 July 2003