Harold II of England
Harold II of England, in Old English Harold Godƿinson (Wessex, c.1022 - Hastings, 14 October 1066), was the last king of the Anglo-Saxons in England and reigned from 5 January to 14 October 1066, when he died in the Battle of Hastings fighting against the Normans of William the Conqueror. Aroldo was the first English king to fall in combat; the others, later, were Richard I and Richard III.
Aroldo was born around 1022 to Godwin of Wessex and his second wife Gytha Thorkelsdaettir, who is supposed to have been the sister of Ulf the Count (died 1026), who in turn would have been the son-in-law of Sweyn I of Denmark and therefore the father of Sweyn II of Denmark. Godwin and Gytha had several other children, including Edith, who became the queen consort of Edward the Confessor, Tostig and Leofwine.
Nothing is known about Aroldo's childhood and youth, except that the royal marriage of his sister earned him the title of Count of East Anglia in 1045; a few years later his father had a violent confrontation with his son-in-law Edward, as he had refused to obey the king who had ordered him to punish the inhabitants of Dover who had revolted upon the arrival of Eustace II of Boulogne, brother-in-law of the English king. Edward reacted by exiling Godwin, who had to leave the country in September 1051; Aroldo accompanied his father into exile and two years later helped him to take back the titles and lands that had been taken from him. In 1053, shortly after returning to Edward's favor, Godwin died and Aroldo succeeded him as Earl of Wessex, the most important figure after the king. In 1058 he received the title of Earl of Hereford and took his father's place as a catalyst of the discontent deriving from the growing Norman influence, resulting from the very long exile that Edward had had to spend in Normandy.
Aroldo won glory in a series of campaigns against Wales, fighting between 1062 and 1063 against Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, a conflict that ended with Gruffydd's death. In 1064 Aroldo was shipwrecked near Ponthieu; the reasons for this trip have been the subject of much speculation. It is hypothesized that Edward, years earlier, had sent the archbishop of Canterbury, Robert of Jumièges, to appoint as his heir William, who was the great-grandson of his mother Emma of Normandy, and that now Aroldo was sent there to swear allegiance to him. Other historians, however, disagree; it is possible that William had been offered succession, but a misunderstanding could have arisen either on William's part or on the part of both, since the succession to the English throne at the time was not yet strictly hereditary. To decide who would take the crown was the Witan, an assembly that brought together the greatest nobles of the kingdom who, at the death of the king, gathered to designate his heir.
Other acts of Edward appear to contradict this promise, as he had attempted in 1057 to return his exiled nephew Edward, son of his half-brother Edmund II of England, from exile. Some Norman chronicles offer the interpretation that Aroldo had left to try to free the members of his family still in exile since 1051 or more simply that he was traveling along the English coasts for a hunting or fishing trip and that a storm pushed him. across the Channel after he left the village of Bosham. Once rescued, Aroldo was captured by Count Guido I of Ponthieu and taken hostage to the castle of Beaurainville. Aroldo was freed by Guglielmo, who ordered the count to place him in his custody.
It is likely that at an unspecified time (probably between 1064 and 1065) Edoardo sent Aroldo, the most powerful and richest of his subjects, to the Norman court as a guarantee for the succession (whose brother and nephew were already at the court in turn as hostag