October 14, 1066. A Norman army led by William the Conqueror defeats King Harold’s English army near Hastings in south-eastern England. It was the last successful invasion of the British Isles. The English troops had just returned from another defence of their country, in the north against Viking invaders. Made up almost entirely of infantry, the battle-weary English were beaten by enemies who combined infantry with cavalry, archers and – for the first time on an English battlefield – crossbows. The battle turned when King Harold was struck by an arrow in the eye, an event which like the rest of the Norman invasion was recorded in the Bayeux Tapestry (see picture). The French-speaking Normans had a significant and lasting impact on the Old English, mainly Saxon language, which began to adopt Latin-based vocabulary.
Also on October 14: Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first airplane pilot to break the speed of sound (1947); Leonid Brezhnev becomes leader of the Soviet Union (1964); Hosni Mubarak is elected President of Egypt (1981).
Born on October 14: Jules Rimet (1873), Eamon de Valera (1882), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890), Roger Moore (1927), Ralph Lauren (1939), Floyd Landis (1975).