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England 1053-1065 England 1053 -1065 saw relative stability. The Godwin brothers with their sister as queen ( Edith) fully restored to her position at.

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Presentation on theme: "England 1053-1065 England 1053 -1065 saw relative stability. The Godwin brothers with their sister as queen ( Edith) fully restored to her position at."— Presentation transcript:

1 England England saw relative stability. The Godwin brothers with their sister as queen ( Edith) fully restored to her position at court, dominate political life of England. Harold, head of the family and the king’s right hand man, was the most powerful person in the realm. He was even called ‘ subregulus ‘( deputy king)by one chronicler. The greatest family triumph came with a decisive defeat of the Welsh in There was at this time no hint that there would be an invasion of England. This period of time was seen as a time of Godwin success and political unity. The chronicle ‘Vita Edwardi’ (Life of Edward) saw the unity of the Godwin brothers as key to English survival. When the brothers fell out in 1065 (Harold and Tostig), the country was open to foreign invasion. The Hungarian connection- Edgar Atheling The underlying issue, however remained the question of Edward’s heir. If the king was not going to produce a son and if the return of Godwin in 1052 ended the possibility of a Norman succession (William), another solution had to be sought. As in 1041, the establishment looked for a member of the royal house of Wessex to bring out of exile. The nearest living relative to Edward was the son of his half brother, Edmund Ironside, also Edward. On the death bed of Ironside in 1016, Cnut had sent Edmund’s children to the king of Sweden to have them murdered but instead they had been taken to safety to the king of Hungary. In July 1054, Ealdred, Bishop of Worcester, set off for Germany to seek out the Saxon Prince Edward. Ealdred remained in Cologne for a year but returned home empty handed. The Prince did eventually return to England with his young son Edgar and arrived in London in Unfortunately, Prince Edward died soon after arriving in 1057 and probably never met his half uncle, King Edward. His son Edgar Atheling was about 5 years old. King Edward took Edgar and his three sisters into is care and brought them up as his own. It is possible that he regarded his great nephew as is heir and hoped that if he lived another decade or so the boy would be old enough to succeed him. Edgar the Atheling: The title ‘Atheling’ meant ‘throne worthy’ and Edgar was considered a possible successor. He survived into adulthood and remained at large for another forty years, sometimes a dangerous opponent of the Norman kings, but never became king of England. 1 Study guide 3 What were the reasons for the succession crisis at the end of Edward the Confessor’s reign? Contents: Rival claims to the throne, the succession to Edward the Confessor, the events of 1064–66.

2 The events of Edgar the Atheling Tostig (Harold's brother) had been made Earl of Northumbria, and although there was peace in that area for some years, Tostig was not popular in the north. However, the two brothers were brilliantly successful in a campaign against Wales in Harold went on a state mission to the continent, but after sailing from Bosham he was shipwrecked on the shores of France, where he was arrested. However, he was rescued by William, Duke of Normandy, and in return it is said that he promised to support William's claim to the throne of England. This may not be true, or the promise may have been made under duress While Tostig was at the King's court there was a rebellion in Northumbria. The local people asked for Morcar, the younger brother of Edwin, Earl of Mercia, to be their new Earl. Later when Edwin and Morcar marched southwards with their armed forces as far as Northampton, both the king and Harold had to agree to the appointment of Morcar. Thereupon Tostig went into exile with his family to Flanders, where he plotted against Harold and against his native England. The King was probably much distressed by these events as Tostig was said to be a favourite of Edward’s, and his health deteriorated; He was unable to attend the consecration of his new Westminster Abbey on 28th December, and he died on the 5th January January King Edward did not have any children, and his last act was to nominate his wife's brother Harold, Earl of Wessex, as his successor, and this was in spite of any earlier promises that he could possibly have made to William, Duke of Normandy in 1051/52. The government did consider the prior claims of Edgar Atheling, but he was thought to be too young, so Harold was accepted. Edgar was present at the funeral of the old king, and at the coronation of Harold which took place the next day at Westminster. March King Harold married Ealdgyth, the sister of both Earl Edwin of Mercia and Earl Morcar of Northumbria. Afterwards Edgar travelled with the King, and the bishop of Worcester, to the north to seek support against potential enemies of the kingdom. These potential enemies included not only the Duke of Normandy and the King of Norway, but also Tostig supported by King Malcom of Scotland, with whom Tostig was friendly. May Edgar Atheling was with the forces of King Harold when they moved into Kent to confront Tostig who had attacked with many ships. However, Tostig sailed away, moved northwards and landed near the Humber but he was driven off by Earl Edwin, and likewise further north by Earl Morcar. Then he took refuge in Scotland. 1st Sept After months of waiting along the south coast, King Harold had to disband many of his time-served defence forces, and his fleet returned to London. Edgar Atheling had previously gone north to warn Earls Edwin and Morcar to remain alert. 5th Sept The Norwegians under King Hardrada threatened to invade the north of England. They had moved to the Orkneys and thence to the mouth of the Tyne, where they were joined by Tostig who came from Scotland. Edgar Atheling was with the Earls Edwin and Morcar as they prepared for action. 10th Sept Fast messengers brought news of the northern invasion to King Harold in London, and he made plans to move an army to Yorkshire. He left on the long march on 15th September Edgar Atheling died. He had an exceptionally long life for the times in which he lived, and he was present at a great many important events during an exciting period in English history. He was a wise man, with the fortunate ability of being able to influence the affairs of kings without becoming involved himself.

3 Harold Godwinson What did Harold promise William? English sources did not mention the succession again until King Edward died. However Norman sources describe in detail a visit made by Harold in the summer of either 1064 or Put simply, the Norman version is that Harold was sent by Edward to William to swear fealty to the duke and confirm the offer of William’s succession in 1052 by an oath. He was captured en route by the count of Ponthieu and rescued by the duke. At a council Harold then swore an oath in front of the great barons of Normandy, promising to secure the kingdom for William on the death of Edward and swearing to become his vassal ( a vassal swore an oath of loyalty, or homage, to his lord, who swore a return oath to defend his vassal. This contract, enhanced by the personal bond of homage, tied feudal relationships together). Before returning home to England, Harold was honoured by William going with him on a campaign to Brittany. Problems with the evidence The Norman evidence is too unreliable to establish the absolute truth about Harold’s visit to Normandy. 1)The chief writer, William of Poitiers, writing in the 1070s, places the oath at Bonneville, near Lisieux, even though he was not present. 2)The Bayeux Tapestry, again made in the 1070s puts the path at Bayeux. 3)When William of Poitiers is very detailed in his justification of the duke’s rise to power and ultimate rightful succession to the throne, the Tapestry tells us very little. The commentary in the border does not say exactly what it was that Harold swore, though it clearly shows him making an oath of some description. 4)The Tapestry does not tell us why Harold was in Normandy in the first place. 5)If Harold swore a solemn oath at Edward’s behest, why were hostages not given to guarantee the treaty, as was the usual practice? Edgar Atheling would have been the obvious choice for William to take as hostage. 6)Why did William not come to England to be crowned in Edward’s lifetime? No evidence suggests favour towards William. Edward could have granted him lands and received him at court before his death. If Harold did visit Normandy and swear an oath to William on the command of the king, Edward may have returned to an earlier policy of a Norman succession. But if Harold did not visit Normandy on such a mission, other scenarios should be considered: 1)Harold may well have made a visit on other business that resulted in an oath being extorted from him. 2)Harold might, in gratitude, have made an oath of fealty promising to maintain William's interests in England in return for William rescuing him from Ponthieu. 3)Harold may have been touring the continent on his own business and attempted to enlist William's support but found himself making promises he could not keep. 4)Harold’s visit may have been entirely unconnected to the succession and he may simply have sworn an oath of friendship between England and Normandy, acting as Edward’s chief counsellor and most powerful earl. 3

4 Whatever the real reason for Harold’s visit to Normandy, if it did indeed occur, the fact is that Norman writers used it relentlessly to portray Harold as a perjurer and usurper; Duke William used it when he asked for papal support ( support from the Pope, the head of the Catholic church in Rome)of his invasion of England in order to justify it and turn it into a holy campaign. In the Bayeux Tapestry, King Edward seems angry on Harold’s return, which may suggest that Harold may not have been on unofficial mission for the king, or that he might have given too much away. Did Edward offer the throne to Harold? In November 1065, Harold suffered the first of a series of strokes. His mental state was affected and by December it was clear he was not going to survive. Now, at least, the jockeying for position of power at the royal court began in earnest. At the centre of this struggle was Harold, Earl of Wessex, the most powerful man in the realm. His influence had increased after the exile of his brother Tostig, Earl of Northumbria, from England. How significant was Tostig’s fall from power? Tostig’s fall from power after 10 years as the Earl of Northumbria was shocking; it was the beginning of the end for the Godwin family. Tostig stood accused by Northumbrian rebels of murder and harsh rule. In October the rebels marched on York and killed all Tostig’s household troops and servants; they then outlawed Tostig and requested that Morcar, son of Leofric, sometime earl of Mercia, be installed in his place. Harold was sent to negotiate. The rebels refused to take Tostig back. The rebels refused to take Tostig back. The king called out his entire army to crush them by force but nobody turned up. The English did not want a civil war. The rebellion was against Tostig, not the king. Harold was in a difficult situation. He tried to make peace, but failed ; the rebels stood firm and the king lacked force of arms. Tostig and his family went into exile in Flanders, where his wife’s family lived. Tostig would only return to England in 1066 to make war on his brother. The rejection of Tostig, a southerner, demonstrated both the continuing independence of the north and Edward’s weakness in not being able to deal with them effectively. Could Harold become king? King Edward probably had his first stroke when he heard of the reel’s victory. The unity of the Godwins was destroyed. Edith, a supporter of Tostig, was bitter towards Harold. Was it at this point that Harold thought that he could, or might have to take the throne for himself? There were reasons why he thought this; 1)The earls of Northumbria and Mercia, Morcar and Edwin were very young. 2)Harold had put the peace of the realm before his own brother. He allowed Morcar to remain earl of Northumbria over and above Tostig ; he then married the sister of Edwin and Morcar, Eadgyth. The brothers were in Harold’s debt; did they dare oppose his bid for the throne in favour of Edgar Atheling, who was 14 in 1066, or Duke William, the king’s cousin? 3)In any case the problem seems to have been solved by the king himself. When it became apparent that he lay dying, many nobles and clergy from all across England assembled at Westminster that Christmas, 1065, to witness the consecration of the king’s new abbey and probably to see the king die. Those assembled were representative of the kingdom, and not just of the Godwin party, William, Duke ofNormandy was absent. 4

5 5 Did Edward offer the throne to Harold? King Edward had another stroke on Christmas eve On 28 th December Westminster abbey was consecrated in his absence and the king sank into a coma. At the end he was roused by Queen Edith. Harold, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Queen gathered by his bedside, as depicted in the Bayeux tapestry and recorded in English sources. The Bayeux tapestry has the dying king touching hands with someone but it is not clear who this was. The ‘life of King Edward’, written for Queen Edith, is neutral: Edward ‘ commended the kingdom to Harold’s protection.’ The equally ambiguous northern and Abingdon versions of ‘ The Anglo –Saxon Chronicle’ say, “ the wise ruler entrusted the realm to a man of high rank, to Harold himself.” The Canterbury version is less certain; “ And Earl Harold succeeded to the realm of England, just as the king had granted it to him, and as he had been chosen to the position.” These are English sources and could have been written to justify a coup d'état by Harold and his followers. However most significantly the admission of William of Poitiers, the greatest advocate of Norman propaganda, that Edward bequeathed ( gave) the throne to Harold on his deathbed. William of Poitiers accepts the English version, but from the Norman point of view, this makes Harold's treachery even greater. It as been shown that Edward was forced by circumstance to change his plans regarding the succession. His Norman cousin, Duke William, was one of several petitioners, including Ralf of Mantes and Eustace of Boulogne, the king’s Norman-French nephews, Edgar the Atheling, his English great nephew and Earl Harold his brother in law. Furthermore, the words of a dying man in the Middle Ages were the most solemn words that could be uttered. By modern standards, Edward was delirious, but by the standards of the time, he spoke directly from God. Quite possibly pressure put on the dying man to say the right words from God, and it was thus put about that Harold was now the true heir. This would have superseded any oath Harold may or may not have sworn on his visit to Normandy in 1064/5.

6 6 Harold is crowned. Whatever the dying king indicated to Harold and his followers, Harold was crowned king of England on 6 th January, the very day that Edward was buried; both events occurred at Westminster Abbey. Even if Edward had not indicated that Harold was to be his successor, it is clear that the assembled nobility and clergy, there to see the king die and his new abbey consecrated, acquiesced, and probably acclaimed, Harold the new king. Harold had popular support and the assent of his predecessor. Bearing in mind that in Anglo Saxon custom there was no established means of inheriting the throne, the will of the outgoing monarch and the assent of the ruling classes were more than enough for Harold. What did an obscure oath sworn two years before matter? Did Edward the Confessor have a policy towards his succession? Given the lack of sources and the contradictory nature of what survives, it can never be fully established what, if anything, Edward wished to do with his crown. 1)If his marriage to Edith was a healthy relationship, then the couple were merely unable to conceive, though he certainly grew increasingly pious and chaste. 2)If Edward, after 9 years of childless marriage to Edith, turned back to Normandy in Godwin’s absence and offered or raised the prospect of, an inheritance to William, then this was dashed by Godwin’s return. 3)The possibility of the great nephew was an option, but was hampered by Edgar’s youth after his father’s death on arriving in England from Hungary. 4)Edward may well have sent Harold to William to renew a treaty of friendship in 1064/5, or Harold may have been tricked, or forced into an oath he had not intention of keeping and which did not have Edward’s consent. 5)On his deathbed, the king may have changed his mind when he signalled to Harold; but the words of a dying man were as good as the law itself.

7 7 Who had the better claim? The Norman version was straightforward, Edward offered the throne to William in Harold, Edward’s right hand man visited William it confirm the offer and then proceeded to take the throne illegally. Even if Edward had granted the kingdom to Harold, as Norman sources admit, Harold should instead have guarded the throne for William. However the Norman story was too simplistic. 1)At any one time in the period there were several likely contenders to the throne; the English, Norman and Scandinavian. It is possible that Edward had plans, but was forced to adapt them. 2)The nobility were fully aware of the power of the duke of Normandy and the Scandinavian threats from cross the North Sea, and may have believed that England was going to be invaded whoever became king. 3)Acclaiming Harold gave them the best man to defend the kingdom. Harold had proven military skill and sound governmental judgement, and had put peace of the realm before his own border. In the context of the Danish invasion of 1014, Edward the Confessor’s strong connection with Normandy, the power of the Godwin family and Edward’s own childlessness, another invasion of England after Edward’s death, was highly likely. The Anglo-Saxon nobility knew that Harold was the best man to withstand the fortunes of war to which the kingdom was now open.

8 8 William, Duke of Normandy William was born in around 1028, in Falaise, Normandy the illegitimate son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy. He was known as 'William the Bastard' to his contemporaries. On his father's death in 1035, William was recognised as heir, with his great uncle serving as regent. In 1042, he began to take more personal control. From 1046 until 1055, he dealt with a series of baronial rebellions. William's political and military successes helped him in negotiations to marry Matilda, daughter of Count Baldwin of Flanders in In 1064, Edward the Confessor ordered Harold to make a voyage to Normandy to confirm Edward's promise of the throne to William on his death. This must have been a humiliating exercise for him. I am sure he felt that the kingdom should be his. Harold must have known that this was a difficult and dangerous expedition. He also had other ideas. His brother, Wulfnot and Harkon ( Harkon ) were still being held as hostages and he saw that this may be a way to get them released. Setting off from the Sussex Coast they run into storm which forces them off course. Thanks to the Danish sailors who were used to sailing in bad weather, a forced landing was made. Unfortunately, bedraggled and half drowned they waded ashore, only to the captured by Guy, Count of Ponthieu. Guy, who was a vassal of Duke William held them to ransom. He sent a messenger to William with his demands. William refused the offer and called Guy's bluff. Guy decided to give Harold up, possibly because of disguised threats or fear of invasion. Whatever the reason, Harold was handed over to Duke William. By all accounts, Harold and William became reasonable friends during this time. Obviously it was in Harold's interests and health to keep it this way. Harold was involved in a campaign in Brittany during this time and was noted for saving a Norman knight from quicksand. It could almost be said that these two powerful men actually liked one another eventually. Political expediency may have given the wrong impression. Whilst they gave onlookers that impression, each had other ideas. Both however, wanted to be king of England. A fuller Insight into William will be attempted in the section entitled Norman rule after As this might explain some of his draconian actions after the Battle of Hastings. As was expected the subject of Wulfnot and Harkon was introduced into their conversation. A battle of words and deeds followed. William for some time would have been expecting an oath of allegiance from Harold but Harold found it difficult to comply with his orders from Edward. Finally Harold mentioned the release of the two. Without doubt, William was expecting it. Now was his chance to force his hand. Harold stated how there could be an Anglo Norman empire, William would have none of this. William knew he had the upper hand as well as the hostages. He used his advantage to attempt a oath of allegiance from Harold. Harold knew he could not leave without the hostages, so he agreed. To make sure he honoured his pledge, the marriage was mooted between Williams daughter Adelisa and a reluctant Harold. He managed to escape this fate, but Harold was made to swear the oath of allegiance over religious relics. Expecting Wulfnot and Harkon to be released, William informed him that Wulfnot would be held until such time that he became king. Harold and his remaining brothers returned to England with Harkon only. Harold went through a period of soul searching, knowing he had sworn over holy relics. By the same token he was also reminded that he had made this pledge under duress.

9 9 Biography of William In 1035, Robert of Normandy went on a pilgrimage. Before setting out on his trip Robert he forced his lords to swear fealty to William. Although William was illegitimate, he was Robert's only living son. When Robert of Normandy died in 1035 William inherited his father's title. Several leading Normans, including Gilbert of Brionne, Osbern the Seneschal and Alan of Brittany, became William's guardians.Gilbert of Brionne A number of Norman barons would not accept an illegitimate son as their leader and in 1040 an attempt was made to kill William. The plot failed but they did manage to kill Gilbert of Brionne, Alan of Brittany and Osbern the Seneschal. William survived but he was forced to accept Ralph of Wacy as his guardian and leader of his armed forces. William was unhappy with this as Ralph had been involved in the plot against him and had been responsible for the murder of Gilbert of Brionne.Norman William began to govern Normandy in Two years later, the lords of the western region of the duchy rebelled, but William successfully defeated them at Val-es-dunes. In 1051 William visited Edward the Confessor, the king of England. Later, William claimed that Edward promised him that he would become his heir.NormandyEdward the Confessor In 1053 William married Matilda of Flanders, the daughter of Count Baldwin of Flanders. Over the next sixteen years the couple had nine children. Robert Curthose, Richard (killed in a hunting accident in 1075), Cecily, William Rufus, Agatha, Henry Beauclerk and Adela.Matilda of FlandersRobert CurthoseWilliam RufusHenry Beauclerk William's power in Normandy was constantly under threat. In 1053 he suppressed a revolt led by William of Arques. After repulsing two French invasions, William eventually managed to capture Maine. At first the people of Maine were unwilling to accept William as their leader. In 1063 William's army ravaged the land until he received their submission.Normandy In 1064 Harold of Wessex was on board a ship that was wrecked on the coast of Ponthieu. He was captured by Count Guy of Ponthieu and imprisoned at Beaurain. William, demanded that Count Guy release him into his care. Guy agreed and Harold went with William to Rouen. Later the two men went into battle against Conan of Brittany.Harold of Wessex For his role in the capture of Dinan, Harold was knighted by William. During the ceremony at Bayeux, Harold took an oath that he would do his best to help William to become king when Edward the Confessor died. Harold also agreed to marry William's daughter, Eadmer. In return, William promised Harold half the realm of England.Edward the Confessor

10 10 In 1065 Edward the Confessor became very ill. Harold claimed that Edward promised him the throne just before he died on 5th January, The next day there was a meeting of the Witan to decide who would become the next king of England. The Witan was made up of a group of about sixty lords and bishops and they considered the merits of four main candidates: William, Harold, Edgar Etheling and Harald Hardrada. On 6th January 1066, the Witan decided that Harold was to be the next king of England.Edward the ConfessorHaroldWitanEdgar EthelingHarald Hardrada When William heard the news he sent a message to Harold reminding him of the oath he took in Harold responded that he was duty bound to follow the decision taken by the Witan.HaroldWitan William now began to prepare for war. After a meeting with his barons at Lillebonne, he sent Gilbert, the Archdeacon of Lisieux, to gain permission from Pope Alexander II, to go into battle against Harold. Although the action was opposed by many of the cardinals, Alexander II eventually agreed and sent William his blessing. William was also visited by Harold's brother Tostig. Tostig offered to help William against Harold and it was agreed that Tostig's army would sail to England. In May 1066 Tostig landed in the Isle of Wight and forced the inhabitants to give him money and provisions. He then sailed north with sixty ships and entered the Humber before being driven away by Morcar.Tostig Morcar

11 11 Harald Hardrada Tostig Sward, Earl of Northumbria died in 1055 to be replaced by Harold's brother Tostig. Northumbria was the wild West of England at this time but Tostig ruled with a rod of iron. He took law enforcement to extremes, using his position to eliminate, usually by murder, anybody who got in his way. His mentor as she had always been was his elder sister Edith. His policy seemed to emanate from her. He taxed the people heavily and was generally very hard on them. By 1065, they had had enough. They attacked his residence and destroyed it along with the murder of his chosen housecarls. Tostig was removed from office for his own safety to be replaced by Morcar, who was the brother of Edwin the Earl of Mercia. Tostig did not take kindly to being extricated from his earldom. Harold persuaded the king to exile Tostig. As Tostig was one of the Godwin's favourite children, he was loath to do so. Tostig departed for Flanders to the understanding Count Balduin. Harald Sigurdsson was born in Harald was the half-brother of Olaf II, the king of Norway. Harald was with Olaf when he was killed at the Battle of Stiklestad in Harald sought refuge in Kiev and was protected by its ruler, Prince Yaroslav the Wise. In 1045 Harald returned to Norway and two years later became king after the death of his nephew, Magnus Olafsson. Within a few years Harald became known as Hardrada (Hard- Ruler). Over the next few years he was involved in a long drawn-out war against King Sweyn of Denmark. The two men signed a peace agreement in Sweyn When Edward the Confessor died in 1066, Harald claimed that his father and descendants had been promised the English throne by King Hardicanute, who ruled England between 1040 and 1042.Edward the ConfessorKing Hardicanute In 1066 Tostig, the brother of Harold of Wessex, went to Norway to meet King Hardrada. The two men agreed to invade England and in early September around 300 ships sailed along the coast and did some plundering, including the burning of Scarborough. They then entered the Humber and on 20th September defeated Morcar's army at Gate Fulford. Four days later the invaders took York.TostigHarold of WessexYork When Harold was told by a messenger that Hardrada of Norway had invaded with the intentions of conquering all of England, it is said that the king replied: "I will give him just six feet of English soil; or, since they say he is a tall man, I will give him seven feet!"Harold On 25th September Harold's army arrived in Yorkshire. He took Tostig and Hardrada by surprise at a place called Stamford Bridge. It was a hot day and the Norwegians had taken off their byrnies (a mail shirt that reaches the mid thigh). Harold and his English troops devastated the Norwegians. Both Hardrada and Tostig were killed. The Norwegian losses were considerable. Of the 300 ships that arrived, less than 25 returned to Norway.Stamford Bridge


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