According to the chronicler monk Raoul Glaber, Hasting (or Hastein), undoubtedly the most cruel and feared Viking in the Frankish land and the whole Christian world, was born in 810 near Troyes.
Hasting was the descendant of Saxons who had been deported by Charlemagne from 799 onwards to be replaced by Franks in order to avoid further revolts. He was very young when he left his parents to go north where he joined a Danish crew. He sailed on trade ships and then, as an adult, on longships.
He was quickly considered as a great Viking leader thanks to his warrior qualities, his strength, courage and intelligence!
From 838 onwards, with his fleet, Hasting went through the Atlantic coasts and sailed up rivers… He plundered, burnt and ravaged cities like Nantes, Amboise, Bordeaux, Porto and Lisbon. He vandalised the towns and the countryside, burnt churches and monasteries, killing the religious.
Hasting and his men then crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, ravaged the Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Islands. They ravaged Seville, Valencia, Barcelona, Marseille, Arles and Nimes…
In Italy, several cities are plundered, including Pisa and Luna, which are totally destroyed!
A fatal stratagem!
In 859, Hasting and his fleet landed near Luna, in Liguria, a fortified and well-guarded city. Understanding that a long siege was about to happen, and that winter was coming, he organised a stratagem similar to the subterfuge of the Trojan Horse.
Hasting asked the authorities for permission to hibernate peacefully under the city walls to rest from the long journeys his men had endured. Very quickly, rather friendly relations were established between the two peoples.
Then, Hasting sent an emissary to tell the city’s clergy that he was dying and wanted to repent for the suffering he had caused during his life. To this end, he asked the priests to instruct him in the Christian faith so that he could be baptised.
Believing in a miracle, the priests eagerly accepted, and Hasting received baptism within a few weeks!
On the very next day, Hasting died. In his last will, he asked to be buried in consecrated ground and bequeathed a large part of his wealth to the church!
Amazed by the promised treasures, the priests accepted to let the remains of the chief, locked in a coffin, enter the city walls with some of his unarmed men.
Once inside the cathedral, Hasting got out of his coffin and cut off the bishop’s head with a sharp blow! The Vikings then let out a tremendous war cry and drew their weapons hidden under their cloaks. The city was plundered, almost the entire population was killed, and the survivors taken in captivity!
In 885, Hasting and his men took part in the siege of Paris, and he then took command of the city after Sigfrid had given up.
In 892, with 80 ships, Hasting joined the great Scandinavian army and sailed up the Thames on an expedition against Wessex. In 893, his camp is defeated by the Saxons and Hasting disappeared from history shortly after, at the age of 83!
Head and featured photos: visual of the Bayeux tapestry from the ” Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons “