Thursday, September 29, 2016


Yet another quite well known king from "The Kings and Queens of England and Scotland":

HAROLD II  ....Known as Harold Godwinson

Born:  ?1022

Brother-in-law to his successor Edward.

Married: 1.  Eadwyth Swan-neck;  2.  Ealdgyth, widow of Gruffydd; ap Llywelyn

Children:  of Eadgyth:  Godwine, Eadmund. Magnus, Ulf, Gytha, Gunhld; of Ealdgyth: Harold.

Died:  In battle in Hastings on 14 October, 1066, aged 44, having reigned ten months.

Buried: at Pevensey, later in Waltham Abbey.

Harold Godwinson, son and successor to the ambitious Godwin, Earl of Wessex, and brother of Edward's widowed queen, had been commander-in-chief of the forces and 'under-king' - in practice, regent - during Edward's last years.  The Witangemmot did not hesitate to by-pass the claim of the 15-year-old Edgar Atheling and ignore William of Normandy by promptly proclaiming Harold as king.  And Harold underlined the urgency by having himself crowned in Westminster Abbey on the day following Edward's death.  He was a man of great vigour, confidence (perhaps over-confidcnce) and experience; and one of the most intriguing of all theories is the reconstruction of how England would have developed if -as so easily might have been the case- he had not died at Hastings and lost the battle.

Harold's marriage, two years previously, to the widow of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, Ruler of all Wales, was a rare dynastic connection between the English and the British, though Ealdgyth was not born a Celt.

Harold's immediate task on his accession was to defend England from the consequences of two anticipated invasions, from Norway and Normandy - he had not the resources to meet these problems by destroying invasion forces before they sailed or landed.  Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, had inherited the pretensions of his predecessor Magnus to the throne of England, and was supported by Harold Godwinsons' dissident brother Tostig, exiled Earl of Northumbria.  After months of suspense the Norwegians invaded first.  King Harold brushed them out of English history by defeating them at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, where both Hardrada and Tostig were killed on 23 September, 1066.

While celebrating the victory at York, Harold learned that William of Normandy had landed in Sussex.  He force-marched south and met thw enemy forces, who had had a fortnight to consolidate their order of battle, on the ridge above Hastings where Battle Abbey now stands.  Through the long day of 14 October the fateful struggle proceeded.  It was a story-book battle, hard-fought, with changing fortunes, and even included sensational single combat;  King Harold and his two brothers against Duke William and his two half-brothers   At sunset Harold, who had seen his brothers die but still retaining a reasonable chance of victory, was the target of a concentrated "blunderbuss" discharge of arrows.  He sustained a head wound and was immediately pounced upon and killed.

Phil has often said he wonders how different England would have been had Harold Godwinson lived and defeated William of Normandy.  His knowledge of British history never fails to amaze me.  There is mention of that in paragraph 1 (above).


  1. These history 'lessons' are amazing, thank you very much!

    1. Glad you are enjoying them and all thanks to the wonderful book my mother had among her things. I'm also enjoying learning much I'd not read or heard about previously.

  2. In your opinion, were any of them civilized? I think the world would have to wait another 800 years or so whoever won, before mankind could see a reasonable future.

    That said, I still love history

    1. Perhaps one should define the meaning of 'civilised'? Even in this day and age there appear to us many who we do not consider civilised or should we be the ones to judge them?
      I sort of 'skipped' history at school and am not making up for it and enjoying it.

  3. Hari OM
    I'm with R.MacW... what happened, happened and what-iffing is a fruitless pursuit. It is good to review that history though, to grasp the greater picture of the building of things. You are doing a great job of giving us the nutshell tour Mimsie! YAM xx

    1. Sometimes it's always fun to think 'what if' about certain situations.
      I am glad you are enjoying 'the tour' Yamini. This is a wonderful book. xx