Harold Godwinson, the Earl of Wessex, was the most powerful noble in England and the brother-in-law of King Alfred of England. Alfred had no children and no successor except a young nephew who would not be considered not be considered because of his age. The Witenagemot, an assembly of the nobility determined the succession, not primogeniture.
Harold’s crowning after Alfred’s death was a cause for war with William whose great-aunt was Harold’s mother which he saw as giving him rights to the English throne. While William was preparing his invasion, Harold’s brother, Tostig, however, approached King of Norway, Harald Hardrada, to help him usurp the throne of England. Harold Hardrada, however, decided he had some claim to the throne himself. The two joined forces to push their claim by force of arms (that means they were going to attack Harold and England.).
While King Harold awaited William’s arrival in the south, Harald Hardrada with Earl Tostig invaded England from the north (near York). King Harold’s forces marched north and defeated the Norwegian Vikings at Stamford Bridge on September 25, 1066. Both Hardrada and Tostig died in battle.
When Harold heard that the Duke William’s forces had landed he hurried southward to meet the invaders. Ignoring his brother’s, Earl Gyrth, advice to delay to recover from battle and assemble more men, he left London on October 12th and arrived at Senlac Hill on October 13th only to be defeated and killed in battle by William. Pic: Duke William and Harold in Normandy Hawking in better days.
Tomorrow, William the Bastard Rita Bay
The battle of Hastings was fought on October 14, 1066. The battle ensured the Norman conquest of England. The battle actually occurred at Senlac Hill, near what is now Battle, East Sussex. Battle Abbey, which was founded by King William perhaps serves as a memorial to the fallen or as penance for the bloodshed, marks the site where it is believed that the battle was fought.
King Harold Godwinson had succeeded to the English throne with the death of King Edward the Confessor. Harold’s right to succeed to the throne was based on his assertion that King Edward the Confessor had passed the crown to him on his deathbed. The assembly of nobles, the Witenagemot, supported his claim.
Duke William of Normandy claimed that the crown was his. When Harold was crowned King, William took it as a declaration of war. He gathered his allies, knights, and troops with promises of land and titles. His forces crossed the English Channel and landed at Pevensey on September 28th. In the battle of Hastings the superiority of the combined arms attack over an army predominately composed of infantry was demonstrated.
The shield wall of the English infantry could not stand against the coordinated assault of William’s archers, cavalry and infantry. When the Norman army retreated Harold’s men led by his two brothers (Leofwyne and Gyrthe ) pursued them, they were attacked and destroyed. Harold was possibly shot in the eye with an arrow, then cut down with a sword. He was the last king of England to die on a battlefield until Richard III on Bosworth Field, possibly from an arrow in his eye The battle ended with a rout of the English army and the death of all the housecarls (professional soldiers) who were bound to Harold.
Tomorrow, Harold at Stamford Bridge Rita Bay