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A Guide To Local History In The Holsworthy Area.

Harold II circa 1020 - 1066

The last Anglo-Saxon king of England, Harold held the crown for nine months in 1066 before being famously killed by an arrow in the eye at the Battle of Hastings while trying to repel the Norman invasion under William the Conqueror.

Harold succeeded to his father's titles in 1053, becoming the most powerful man in England. Titles for his three brothers - Tostig, Gyrth, and Leofwine - swiftly followed. However, in 1065 the Northumbrians revolted against Tostig, their earl. Bowing to rebel demands, Harold relieved Tostig of his title, safeguarding his own position but turning Tostig into a bitter enemy.

On his deathbed, King Edward the Confessor had designated Harold the royal heir, but had previously promised the crown to his cousin William, Duke of Normandy. William's claim was strengthened when Harold, shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy, promise to support William's claim - albeit under some duress. Nonetheless, this oath was used to secure Papal support for an invasion when Harold assumed power after Edward's death on 5th January 1066. Crowned the next day, Harold was immediately threatened with the rival claim of William, as well as that of Harald III Hardraade, king of Norway, and the potential threat from Tostig.

In May Harold mobilized his fleet and army against an expected invasion by William, but had to use them to repel Tostig's raids on the south and east coasts. Running short of supplies, he dismissed his men in early September, leaving William free to cross the English Channel unopposed. Tostig and Hardraade joined forces and invaded England the same month, but were defeated and killed by Harold at Stamford Bridge, near York, on 25th September. Three days later William landed in England. Harold hurried south, but his men were ill-equipped, untrained and tired. He attacked William near Hastings on 14th October, and in an all-day battle the king was killed, along with his brothers Gyrth and Leofwine.

The accession of William to the English throne on 25th December as King William I ended the Anglo-Saxon phase of English history.

This page comes from a BBC website for more detailed information click here