THERE are likely to be severe delays on all roads in the southeast, for the next three months, as Duke William continues his invasion of England. The official advice is to postpone your travel arrangements unless it is absolutely necessary as all travel is likely to prove dangerous to your well-being.
The news from Duke William’s advisers is that he expected the homage of the English Witan but this submission has not arrived, and that piques – one in the Norman eye for William.
William of Poitiers, his chronicler, was heard to say “When he found that they would not come to him, he decided to use all the force that was left in Hastings and that which would come to him from over sea, to ravage all the country that he overran.”
First Division The Main Army
The First Division will form the main Norman Army and march first north to Senlac Hill and then will follow the ancient trackways and Roman roads east towards Dover before moving on to Canterbury.
It is a circuitous route as it must avoid the Appledore Estuary, that great inland sea that stretches almost all the way to Tenterden. The objective is to secure Dover and start the building of a Castle before moving off towards Canterbury.
I have it on good authority that it is the Duke’s intention to negotiate the surrender of Canterbury, safeguarding the Cathedral where he intends to pray for redemption and the blessing of the remainder of the campaign.
The Second Division will leave Hastings and march west to the great harbour at Portchester, at the head of Fareham Creek. Their orders are to seize the Royal Mints at Steyning, Arundel
and Chichester, survey and list sites for fortification that will secure Duke William’s control of Wessex that was once the stronghold of Harold Godwinson.
Barons such as William de Warenne also see it as an opportunity for personal gain, identifying lands that that they will petition the Duke for once he becomes King. With the prospect of rich pickings further west they begin to look and strut like Norman invaders and are eager to leave the confines of Hastings.
Once at Fareham Creek, they are to rendezvous with reinforcements sailing from France and Normandy. After a period of assimilation, the enlarged Division is to move north towards Winchester, making camp at Alresford and wait for further instruction from the Duke William himself.
It is stressed very forcibly, that they must not make any move on Winchester itself.
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