Tag Archives: Harold Godwinson

Pic of the Weekend: Hastings & Halley’s Comet

Ancient people from Roman through Medieval times believed that the appearance of a comet was a bad omen foretelling significant events, like the death of a king or Julius Caesar, the Black Death, or the invasion of England. In 1066 when King Edward the Confessor of England died and Harold Godwinson was crowned king, William of Normandy invaded England claiming the throne for himself. Halley’s Comet appeared for a week in April of 1066 – a few months after King Edward’s death and before the invasion.

The Bayeaux Tapestry is a 230 foot long embroidered strip of linen that illustrates the events of 1066 through the Battle of Hastings in which King Harold was killed and William of Normandy gained the crown of England for himself. The tapestry was produced in the 1070s probably in England for Bishop Odo, a soldier-priest/bishop and William’s half-brother.  The panel above represents the appearance of Halley’s Comet (center top). On the left side of the panel, note the reaction of the medieval people. A standard translation of the text above their heads would be “look in wonder/awe/ amazement at the star (stella).” A colloquial translation would be  “check it out” or “awesome.”

Tomorrow, another pic.  Rita Bay

Leave a comment

Filed under Pic of the Weekend

King Harold at Stamford Bridge

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Person of Interest

Norman Invaders

King Alfred

In 1066 the English Anglo Saxons with the death of the childless King Alfred were in disarray. Alfred’s brother-in-law Harold Godwinson took the throne. Harold’s brother Tostig, however, approached King of Norway, Harald Hardrada, to help him usurp the throne of England. The rapacious Harold, however, decided he had some claim to the throne himself. The two joined forces  however, to push their claim by force of arms (that means they were going to attack Harold and England.) At the same time, William, the son of the Duke of Normandy (located in France), a descendent of Norse invaders, decided to press his claim also. After a tumultuous childhood in which three of his guardians were murdered, William secured his dukedom and married into one of the most noble families of Europe. William showed a “magnificent appearance, possessing a fierce countenance” and stood about 5’10.”

The Bayeaux Tapestry portrays William invading 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 Norse at Stamford Bridge on September 25, 1066. Both Hardrada and Tostig died in battle. Harold then rushed south with his exhausted troops to meet his death at the hand of William and his Normans at Hastings on October 14, 1066.

William the Conqueror

William was crowned king of England on Christmas Day, 1066 in Westminster Abbey. William rewarded his allies well and punished his enemies viciously. In the “The Doomsday Book,” a survey of land ownership taken in 1085, only two Anglo-Saxon barons that held lands before 1066 retained those lands twenty years later. About 4,000 nobles were displaced. The Norman landowners built primitive castles to defend their new territories. William built and improved numerous castles. Though extremely obese, William enjoyed excellent health until old age when he was impaled on the saddle of his horse in 1087 after a battle. The coffin was too small for his bloated corpse and when the attendants attempted to force it inside, the body burst. What a mess!!

Tomorrow, Castle Construction Rita Bay

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized