Thursday, September 22, 2016


"King and Queens of England and Scotland" continued.

HAROLD I .... 1035-1040

Born:  1017.

Succeeded as regent, later King of England 12 November, 1035 at the age of 18.

Son of his predecessor Cnut through Cnut's first wife Elfgifu.

Marriage: None recorded.

Children:  None recorded.

Died at Oxford on 17 March 1040 aged 23 years having reigned five years.

Buried at Westminster, and later in St Clement Danes, London, the body having been disinterred from the Abbey by Harthacnut, thrown into a ditch, and recovered from the River Thames by a fisherman.

Cnut's failing was that he could not prevent the resurgence of internal faction after his death.  Since in a nebulous situation of legitimacy, Emma was his official wife in England, his logical heir was their son Harthacnut.  Harthacnut, already King of Denmark, was engaged in a power struggle with Magnus, King of Norway, which had established independence.  He claimed the English throne, backed by Emma and Earl Godwin, but could not immediately secure it.

Earl Leofric and his political supporters sponsored Harold, the son of Cnut and Elfgifu.  A claim of strong standing lay with Alfred and Edward, the sons of Emma by her first husband King Ethelred, but when Alfred came over from Normandy he was murdered on the orders of Earl Godwin.  Harold was accepted, first as regent, then as king.

HARTHACNUT  ...  1040-1042  (Hardecnut)  Meas literally Deadly Cnut

Born:  1018

Succeeded as King of Denmark 1035, as King of England 17 March, 1040, aged 22.

Half-brother of his predecessor Harold through their father Cnut, Harold's predecessor.

Marriage:  None recorded.

Children:  None recorded.

Died: drunk at Lambeth 8th June, 1042, aged 24, having reigned two years.

Buried at Winchester.

In a treaty with Magnus, King of Norway, Harthacnut, while King of Denmark, had agreed that if either of them died without an heir the survivor should inherit his rival's dominion.  Once Harthacnut was King of England, and Magnus indicated that this land, too, was part of his legacy, Harthacnut changed his mind.  He brought out of exile in Normandy King Ethelred's only surviving and un-murdered son, Edward. who was his half-brother, being the son of Emma.  Having designated Edward as his heir, Harthacnut collapsed in is cups at a wedding banquet, and died immediately in convulsions.

I feel most of you would know of this next king:

EDWARD ... 1042-1066 (Known later as Saint Edward the Confessor)

Born:  ? 1004

Succeeded as King of England 8th June 1042, aged about 38.

Half-brother to his predecessor Harthacnut through their mother Emma.  Son of Ethelred II, his fifth predecessor.

Married:  Eadgyth (Edith) daughter of Earl Godwin of Wessex and Kent.

Children:  None

Died:  At Westminster 5th January, 1066 aged 62, having reigned 24 years.

Buried at Westminster.

Profile:  Even in middle age. when he ascended the throne Edward resembled a sort of Saxon Father Christmas, with pale yellow hair and beard (not white) and a notably pink complexion.  He was a courtly comfort-loving man and should not be thought of as the gaunt ascetic with the wizard's beard - the image which was later wished on him.

Edward, in the direct hereditary line of Alfred, Edgar and Ethelred, had been brought up as a Young Pretender, a prince in exile from the age of 12 who had no serious expectations of the English throne.  He was an idle, sporting, cultured aristocrat who only in later years turned to the piety with which he is now credited.  His culture, and indeed his language, was Norman French, which is why Westminster Abbey was built (before the Conquest) in the Norman style.  From the beginning of his reign Edward had to submit to the arrogance of his father-in-law Earl Godwin, knowing that Godwin had murdered his brother Alfred.  But any idea Godwin may have had that a grandson of his would inherit the throne collapsed when Eadgyth failed to bear children.  In the later holy cult of Edward as Confessor (Confessor is a rank in the progression towards sainthood and designates a person who was persecuted for his faith but not martyred), the circumstances of Eadgyth's sterility was advanced as a proof of Edward's chastity, but there is no evidcnce of this at all.

In 1051, when it was rumoured that Godwin might seek to have a son of his, rather than a grandson, succeed to Edward's throne - a project which actually came to fruition with the accession of Eadgyth's brother, Harold Godwinson - Edward unexpectedly banished Queen Eadgyth, exiled Godwin, and proclaimed his natural cousin William of Normandy as his heir.  The stroke was premature. It was soon reversed, and Williliam's designation to the succession was virtually cancelled.

Godwin died, and Edward adopted a working friendship with Harold Godwinson, who was conveniently relieving him of many of his duties.  But, still anxious over the succession, Edward recalled from Hungary Edward the Exile, son of King Edmund Ironside, whom Cnut had banished 40 years previously  But Edward the Exile died in suspicious circumstances before the interview with his uncle could take place.  His young son Edgard Etheling had a strong hereditary claim to the throne on the death of Edward the Confessor, whose master-work of Westminster Abbey was dedicated a week before he died, and whose canonization was effected a century later.


  1. Hari OM
    Westminster... such magnificence. A great legacy... YAM xx

  2. I know the name Edward the Confessor, but we didn't learn much about him that I remember, our lessons were mostly the Tudors and their opposition. There was a lot about Henry the eighth and Mary Queen of Scots.
    I had no idea the Confessor part had a religious base and was a step towards sainthood.

    1. They seemed to have weird ideas about sainthood back then. A little more difficult to be a saint in the 21st century but we must remember they were catholic way back then so somewhat different to today

  3. I'm hanging onto your lineage-telling with bated breath. :)

    1. Glad you are enjoying it all. Lots more to read over coming weeks. Right up to the 20th century.

  4. Replies
    1. Even though I am of British stock I am finding it fascination as I go along xx