What is the shield wall?

Today when a demonstration goes nasty, we see the police build a shield wall to defend themselves and then slowly move it forward, but when checking our musical 1066 – The Battle of Hastings I realised that the shield wall has been a policy used by armies for hundreds of years.

King Harold used it twice in four days!

initially in the Battle of Stamford Bridge, where it was successful.  Unfortunately, having won that battle in the north of England, he had to march his army all the way down to the south coast.   There William, the Duke of Normandy, who was intent on getting the English crown, had landed an army. It was the Battle of Hastings, this time again Harold was defending his position at the top of a hill with his shield wall. 

How did William break it down?

William realised this was unbeatable, so he had to find a way to make the wall collapse.  He did it by putting out a rumour that he had died, it worked. Harold’s men thought they had won, the wall collapsed, which allowed William’s men to overcome them, the wall broke and history was changed!

The musical 1066

If you go to http://educationalmusicals.co.uk/product/1066-download/ you can download this 50-minute musical today.  It is a show that will allow your children to learn what happened at the Battle of Hastings, a critical battle in our history.   We have written it so that there are no more than 5 lines in each speech making it easy for your children to rehearse and put on.

When was it first used?

A line of Greek Soldiers with their sheild formed into a solid wall.Before that, the ancient armies of Persia, Greece and the Roman Legions all used them. There are no records as to who first used the tactic, I think it was a natural form of defence used by armies over time.  In fact, when in the seventh century BC shield walls were being used by the ancient Greeks, their shield wall soldiers were called hoplites, the name of their shields.

Each civilisation had slight differences, but they were actually only variations of a wall of shields formed by standing shoulder to shoulder, with each shield abutting or overlapping giving each soldier protection from both his neighbours’ shields and his own.

A line of policemen behind a modern shield wall.Of course today it cannot be used in modern warfare, bullets became the problem, however it has developed into an essential tactic for modern police forces to manage demonstrations. It has become essential protection when demonstrators use improvised weapons, punches, kicks, and throw objects such as bricks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails.

Isn’t it amazing that a military tactic that is hundreds of years old is still in daily use today?

Isn’t history fun?

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