Five days before the battle, Harald Hardrada, King of Norway and his English ally Tostig Godwinson, who was angry because he had not been given the Earldom of Northumbria the previous year, sailed up the Ouse in long ships and with over ten thousand men. Only four days after hearing of the invasion, Harold Godwinson marched the hundred and eighty miles to east Yorkshire and surprised the invaders at Stamford Bridge. Previous the the onset of the battle, Harold had tried to persuade his brother to return and fight for his cause, promising him the Earldom of Northumbria, but Tostig was not interested, as he felt sure that the invaders were in a strong position. But Tostig was wrong, Hardrada's mighty army was separated by the River Derwent, the majority of his men were on the east side and a smaller group on the West, the same side of the Derwent as the English. Later the English advance party had attacked and defeated the smaller Viking army and those who were left began to flee across the bridge. According to legend, when Harold's army did arrive they were confronted by a large axe wielding Viking who held the English army at bay single handedly, cutting down over forty men with a couple of swipes his axe. The English retaliated with their 'hero of the day' a lone soldier in a boat, who with one thrust of his trusty spear wounded the Norseman enough to let the English pass. Eventually, the defending English army had succeeded in defeating Hardrada's men. Hardrada himself was killed by a arrow in his windpipe and Tostig cut down with a sword. The kings force followed and killed most of the fleeing army, some men drowning in the river but many cut down as they ran. It is said the the areas on which they fell was still white with bleached bones fifty years after the battle.
William the Conqueror landed at Hastings on the 14th of the following month with over seven thousand men, King Harold arrived with his force of up to thirteen thousand men, many of them weary from the battle and all of them weary from the march south.
A question then? If King Harold had not fought the Scandinavians at Stamford Bridge and then not had to march his army over two hundred miles south would he have succeeded at Hastings?