King Harold's soldiers were made up of housecarls and the fyrd. Housecarls were well-trained, full-time soldiers who were paid for their services. They wore a short mail-coat called a byrnie. The sleeves were left short to enable freedom of movement in battle. They wore a pointed helmet to help deflect blows from sword attacks. Their main weapon was the battle-axe. The heavy curved blade and long handle meant that the weapon had to be held with both hands.
Housecarls also used a long double-edged sword with a shallow grove running along the blade on both sides to make it lighter. They also carried a long kite shield. When William of Normandy heard that the the Witan had chosen Harold Godwinson as king in January 1066, he began making plans to invade England.
The fyrd were working men who were called up to fight for the king in times of danger. The leaders of the fyrd, the thegns, had swords, bows and spears but the rest of the men were inexperienced fighters and carried weapons such as iron clubs, slings, axes, scythes, sickles and haymaking forks.