Who am I?
- Mar 29, 2004
The Scions of Godwinson
The Saxons after Hastings
When Edward the Confessor, last king of the House of Wessex, died on the fifth of January in the year of Our Lord thousand sixty-six, he had no less than three powerful heirs. First there was the king of Norway, Harald Hardrada, who believed to have a claim on the English throne through an old arrangement made between his cousin and predecessor Magnus and the king of Denmark, Hardaknut. Secondly there was the ambitious duke of Normandy, William, who was a illegitimate son of the previous duke, but had the support of his master, King Henry of France. William declared that Edward had promised him the English throne years before, after he had given Edward sanctuary during his exile. And finally there was a local lord, the Earl of Wessex named Harold Godwinson. Harold had proven himself in battle against the Welsh and even his own brother, and thus received the support of most of the Saxon nobility. Harold claimed that Edward himself appointed him as his successor on his deathbed. On the other hand, William claimed that Harold had sworn loyalty to him years before, after he had rescued Harold from a shipwreck and a rebellious Norman count.
In the end, it fell to the royal council of wise men, the Witenagemot, to appoint a king. They chose the Saxon Harold. This was of course challenged by the other two contesters, who forged an alliance in order to support each others claim and bring down the Saxon kingdom. In September Harald Hardrada lands in northern England with 300 ships and 15.000 men, but he is defeated by Harold at Stamford Bridge on de 25th of that month. Meanwhile, however, William of Normandy lands in the south with 7.000 men. Harold has to force his army to march all the way south in only a few days, and when they meet with William’s force they are exhausted. In the following battle on the 14th of October, the Saxon peasants are charged and routed and the king’s bodyguards are butchered despite their brave stand. King Harold falls in this battle, and William claims it a victory.
He waited for two weeks for the Witenagemot to surrender and accept him as the new king. But when they instead choose Edward the Confessor’s cousin Edgar Ætheling as their new king, William starts marching towards the capital of London in order to force his coronation…