Guillaume de Cailly and his fellow combatants of that region near Rouen, France fought in the Infantry during the Battle of Hastings. They were in the centre behind the Archers and in front of the Cavalry.

Battle Lines

Harold and his Saxons and Danish mercenaries were on a hillside behind a wall of shields which they used to cover themselves so well that the Norman arrows had little effect. The Normans quickly ran short of arrows and could not collect those sent in by their enemy because the Saxons had no Archers. The Infantry and Cavalry fought bravely but the axes of the Housecarls took a heavy toll, so much so that eventually the Bretons on the left flank began to fall back chased by the Saxons.

Duke William launched his cavalry against the pursuers and eventually drove them back and stabilised the situation, but by mid afternoon things were not looking good for the Normans and it seemed as if Harold II would win if his army could hold out until nightfall.

William was then inspired by the earlier success on the left flank and launched an attack followed by a false retreat. When the Normans ran the Saxons chased them neglecting their wall of shields. The Norman Cavalry launched an attack and the Archers could then follow in and retrieve their arrows and so the Battle was won.

The role of Guillaume de Cailly in the battle is remembered in a poem written by the 12th century Norman poet Robert Wace. Roman de Rou – Tome III page 249.

Mielx voleient iloc morir
Ke a lor dreit Seigneur failli
Cil de Saint Sever et de Cailli

Very loosely translated it says he fought valiantly as it would be better for someone from Cailly or St Sever to die than to fail one′s rightful Lord.

William the conqueror entered London on Christmas day 1066 accompanied by, according to Robert Wace, that same Lord (Guillaume) de Cailly.

Guillaume settled in England and was well rewarded, as were all William′s companions, and the rest is the Cailly/Kellaway/Callaway family History!

This account of the battle involving Guillaume de Cailly is a translated and shortened version of the description given on the Commune de Cailly website. HERE where there are several interesting historical accounts from the area.
Guillaume′s exploits were well known there. His brother Roger′s descendents remained in Cailly as the local lords.

If anyone can provide a better translation of the Robert Wace verse I would be pleased to include it.

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Battle of Hastings
Last updated December 2014
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