Harold II. Godwinson

Article

October 25, 2021

Harold II. Godwinson (1022? - October 14, 1066) was the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England. He ruled in the period after the death of his predecessor Edward III. from January 5, 1066 until his death on October 14, 1066 at the Battle of Hastings against the Normans led by the later English King William I.

Family

Harold was the son of Godwin, the powerful Earl of Wessex, and his wife Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, whose brother Jarl Ulf was the son-in-law of Sven Vidlího vous and the father of Svena II. Godwin and Gytha had several children, such as Sven, Harold, Tostig, Gyrth, Leofwin and Edita of Wessex, who were the wife of King Edward III of England.

Influential nobleman

Due to his sister's marriage to King Edward, Harold became Earl of East Anglia in 1045. Harold escorted Godwin into exile in 1051, but helped him restore his position a year later. After Godwin's death in 1055, Harold became Earl of Wessex (which then included a third of England). He thus became the most influential nobleman of the country after the king. In 1058 he also became Earl of Hereford and became a major figure in the resistance to the growing influence of the Normans in the restored English monarchy, which was due to the fact that Edward spent about 25 years in exile in Normandy. In 1064, Harold's ship sank in Ponthieu. The Norman chroniclers stated that Robert, Archbishop of Canterbury, was sent by the childless king to appoint William, Duke of Normandy, as his successor, and Harold was later sent to swear allegiance to him. But historians question this version. William could have thought that he would be offered succession to the English throne, but there must have been a misunderstanding on his part or even on Harold's, because succession to the English throne was not hereditary or determined by the will of the current king. Instead, the decisive factor was the decision of the witenagemot (assembly of the leading nobles of the kingdom) after the death of the current king. The actual reason why Harold found himself in Ponthieu is not known, but it is certain that he landed there and was captured by Count Guy. Duke William soon arrived in Ponthieu and ordered Guy to extradite Harold. Harold then apparently took part in a battle with William against his enemy, the Duke of Brittany Conan. They drove Conan from Brittany to Rennes and eventually to Dinan. William gave Harold weapons and promoted him to knight. The Bayeux tapestry and other Norman sources state that Harold swore allegiance to William of the remnants of the saints and acknowledged William's claim to the English throne. After Harold's death, the Normans warned that by being crowned King of England, Harold had broken his oath. Due to the disproportionate increase in taxes imposed by Harold's brother Tostig in 1065, England found itself on the brink of civil war. Harold supported the rebels in Northumbria who opposed Tostig. While this supported his hopes of becoming Edward's successor, it divided his own family and led Tostig into an alliance with King Harald Hardrada of Norway.

Marriage and descendants

He was in an informal marriage with Edita Swannesha (Edita Swan Neck) for about twenty years and they had six children together. This marriage was accepted as a legal bond, even though the church considered Edita to be Harold's mistress. His children were considered his legitimate descendants. About January 1066, Harold married Edita, daughter of Elfgar, Earl of Mercia, and widow of Prince Gruffyd of Wales. Edita had two sons, apparently twins, Harold and Ulf (born November 1066). After Harold's death, the queen sought refuge with her brothers Edwin, Earl of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria, but both first negotiated a truce with William to lose their lands and lives in a subsequent rebellion against him. Edita then apparently went into exile.

King of England

At the end of 1065, King Edward fell ill and

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