1066: A Year to Conquer England – Episode 2

1066 image episode 2

King Harold (Adam James) struggles to unite the counties of England in desperate times of uncertainty. He marries a new wife for political reasons; hoping to strengthen the English armies as Viking King Harald Hardrada (Clive Russell) descends from the North and William of Normandy (Ed Stoppard) plans to cross the channel from the South. The juicy sibling betrayal of Harold’s brother Tostig intensifies as he joins forces with the Vikings in an attempt to vanquish his brother’s reign. Even the Pope gets involved at one point! Not in combat though, unfortunately.

The thing I like about this programme is the way it delves into the logistics of war and things that may casually overlooked. Presenter Dan Snow is often found speaking to historians and even medieval combat experts about the armour, weapons and tactics employed for the Battle of Hastings and the skirmishes surrounding it. He also seems to go around on speedboats a lot when he talks about Vikings. Makes sense I suppose… ships and whatnot.

There’s a sequence I particularly liked which details the struggles William of Normandy was facing. Trapped on the coast of France for seven weeks due to unsailable weather; William has to find ways to feed 14,000 men and 3,000 horses. He also has to figure out how to stop the tonnes of horse and human excrement from spreading dysentery and killing everyone. I’m not very good at camping either. Dan Snow travels to modern-day Normandy where he speaks to bakers and stable-owners about how this may have been done. It’s a brilliant sequence that really highlights how desperate William was to take the English crown he considered rightfully his.

Here we have another intriguing and insightful episode of this brilliant series. I can’t wait to watch the finale episode next week! It’s a shame we all know how it ends.

1066: A Year to Conquer England is on BBC Two at 21.00 on Tuesdays.

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