When William the Conqueror arrived from Normandy in 1066 he landed on the East Sussex coast and from this point proceeded to bring ‘civilisation’ to the country.
An historical observation – The ‘Normans’ were the ‘men from the north’, Danes or ‘Vikings’ as Hollywood would have us call them, that landed in France and colonised that area we now know as Normandy. From there they spread their civilisation far and wide almost eclipsing the Romans in their power and Britain was just another ‘target market’ for their product.
As we all know, just before William set foot on our shores a bunch of foreign Johnies, OK Norse men under the leadership of King Harald Hardrada of Norway (Harald III of Norway) together with Tostig Godwinson, had the temerity to land up on the north east coast with the intention of ‘taking over’.
Our man Harry, sorry King Harold (Godwinson), went hot-foot, up t’north, marching his army day and night to cover the 195 miles from London to the sleepy village of Stamford in just four days where he gave the miscreants a severe seeing to at the battle of Stamford Bridge (25th September 1066).
OK, notice anything here? Yep a Godwinson on both side of the battlefield! Tostig & Harold were brothers and young brother Tostig was after big brother Harry’s throne! It did him no good as both Harald III of Norway and Tostig along with a significant number of their followers were killed in the battle.
No sooner had Harry whupped little brother Tostig and his cronies when he hears that the Normans have dropped in at Pevensey (28th September 1066!) Harold set off south with his depleted and exhausted army gathering ‘volunteers’ as he went.
Less than three weeks after his success at Stamford Bridge Harold was defeated and killed at the Battle of Hastings on the 14th October 1066.
And whose fault was all this bloodshed? King Edward the Confessor! The word on the street is that he had verbally promised the crown of England to his cousin William of Normandy but Edward also appears to have promised his crown to Harold, on his death bed, he died on the 4th-5th January 1066. Edward was buried at Westminster Abbey on the 6th January 1066 and Harold was crowned the same day.
So how did Harold Godwinson become King of England, if only for a very short time? Harold Godwinson was the second son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex, the most powerful of the English earls, and his wife Gytha. He had four brothers and a sister Edith of Wessex (1029-1075). Edith married King Edward the Confessor on 23rd January 1045. Following the marriage Harold became Earl of East Anglia (1045). When Godwin died in 1053 Harold became Earl of Wessex which at the time covered the southernmost third of England!
In 1058 he also became Earl of Hereford!
Harold was the Man! Second in power only to Edward himself.
Make time to visit Battle and walk around what was, until recently, considered to be the battlefield. Recent discoveries show that the ‘traditional’ battle site is not the actual battle site. This has now been identified as being a few hundred yards to the south east. Click here Battle of Hastings to go to our updated page.