Despite repeated charges by this cavalry force however, the Saxon line held firm and their resistance was so fierce that at one point a group of Norman cavalry turned and fled, which caused the Saxon spearmen to pursue on foot. This allowed the mobile Norman cavalry to surround the footmen once they had led them away from their lines (and the hail of enemy arrows) and slaughter them.
This inspired William to instruct his cavalry to feign retreat, drawing more Saxon spearmen out of their lines to weaken the shield wall further. At this point, the Norman archers began to use arched fire, raining arrows down on the Saxon defenders, who were too tired to raise their heavy shields to defend themselves. This arrow barrage grievously wounded the Saxon King Harold and William ordered his knights to make a final charge into the confused, leaderless, exhausted Saxon army, which dissolved around its dying king in defeat.