BBC Bitesize - GCSE History - Edward's death and claimants to the throne - AQA - Revision 2
Learn about and revise Edward the Confessor's death and the claimants to the throne Harold Godwinson: Earl of Wessex; William: Duke of Normandy; Harald Harold was Edward's brother-in-law, but there was no blood connection. Strongest claim: Harold Godwinson was the only claimant who had the support of the. Edward the Confessor's grandfather, Richard, the Count of Normandy, was also the great-grandfather of William the Conqueror. Was the Pope's decision to support William the Conqueror influenced by the Norman military presence in Italy?. Born around , William was the illegitimate son of Duke Robert I of him to negotiate his marriage to Mathilda, daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders. his assertion that, in , Edward the Confessor had promised him the throne ( he Furthermore, William had the support of Emperor Henry IV and papal approval.
It may have been Norman propaganda designed to discredit Harold, who had emerged as the main contender to succeed King Edward. Harold, perhaps to secure the support of Edwin and Morcar in his bid for the throne, supported the rebels and persuaded King Edward to replace Tostig with Morcar.
Edward was ailing, and he died on 5 January It is unclear what exactly happened at Edward's deathbed. One story, deriving from the Vita Edwardia biography of Edward, claims that Edward was attended by his wife Edith, Harold, Archbishop Stigand, and Robert FitzWimarcand that the king named Harold as his successor.
The Norman sources do not dispute the fact that Harold was named as the next king, but they declare that Harold's oath and Edward's earlier promise of the throne could not be changed on Edward's deathbed.
Later English sources stated that Harold had been elected as king by the clergy and magnates of England. English sources claim that Ealdredthe Archbishop of Yorkperformed the ceremony, while Norman sources state that the coronation was performed by Stigand, who was considered a non-canonical archbishop by the papacy.
Tostig appears to have received little local support, and further raids into Lincolnshire and near the River Humber met with no more success, so he retreated to Scotland, where he remained for a time. Harold assembled an army and a fleet to repel William's anticipated invasion force, deploying troops and ships along the English Channel for most of the summer.
Although some sort of formal assembly probably was held, it is unlikely that any debate took place, as the duke had by then established control over his nobles, and most of those assembled would have been anxious to secure their share of the rewards from the conquest of England. Henry was still a minor, however, and Sweyn was more likely to support Harold, who could then help Sweyn against the Norwegian king, so these claims should be treated with caution.
Although Alexander did give papal approval to the conquest after it succeeded, no other source claims papal support prior to the invasion. To deal with Norman affairs, William put the government of Normandy into the hands of his wife for the duration of the invasion. The fleet carried an invasion force that included, in addition to troops from William's own territories of Normandy and Maine, large numbers of mercenaries, allies, and volunteers from Brittanynortheastern France, and Flanders, together with smaller numbers from other parts of Europe.
Although the army and fleet were ready by early August, adverse winds kept the ships in Normandy until late September. There were probably other reasons for William's delay, including intelligence reports from England revealing that Harold's forces were deployed along the coast.
William would have preferred to delay the invasion until he could make an unopposed landing. King Harold received word of their invasion and marched north, defeating the invaders and killing Tostig and Hardrada on 25 September at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. William then moved to Hastingsa few miles to the east, where he built a castle as a base of operations.
From there, he ravaged the interior and waited for Harold's return from the north, refusing to venture far from the sea, his line of communication with Normandy. Battle of Hastings After defeating Harald Hardrada and Tostig, Harold left much of his army in the north, including Morcar and Edwin, and marched the rest south to deal with the threatened Norman invasion.
Harold stopped in London, and was there for about a week before marching to Hastings, so it is likely that he spent about a week on his march south, averaging about 27 miles 43 kilometres per day,  for the distance of approximately miles kilometres. The exact events preceding the battle are obscure, with contradictory accounts in the sources, but all agree that William led his army from his castle and advanced towards the enemy.
Some of William's Breton troops panicked and fled, and some of the English troops appear to have pursued the fleeing Bretons until they themselves were attacked and destroyed by Norman cavalry.
During the Bretons' flight, rumours swept through the Norman forces that the duke had been killed, but William succeeded in rallying his troops. Two further Norman retreats were feigned, to once again draw the English into pursuit and expose them to repeated attacks by the Norman cavalry. The Bayeux Tapestry has been claimed to show Harold's death by an arrow to the eye, but that may be a later reworking of the tapestry to conform to 12th-century stories in which Harold was slain by an arrow wound to the head.
The English dead, who included some of Harold's brothers and his housecarlswere left on the battlefield. Gytha, Harold's mother, offered the victorious duke the weight of her son's body in gold for its custody, but her offer was refused.
Waltham Abbeywhich had been founded by Harold, later claimed that his body had been secretly buried there. After waiting a short while, William secured Doverparts of Kent, and Canterburywhile also sending a force to capture Winchesterwhere the royal treasury was. Next he led his forces around the south and west of London, burning along the way. He finally crossed the Thames at Wallingford in early December.
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William then sent forces into London to construct a castle; he was crowned at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day Ecclesiastical offices continued to be held by the same bishops as before the invasion, including the uncanonical Stigand. He left his half-brother Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux, in charge of England along with another influential supporter, William fitzOsbernthe son of his former guardian. English resistance had also begun, with Eadric the Wild attacking Hereford and revolts at Exeterwhere Harold's mother Gytha was a focus of resistance.
The town held out for 18 days, and after it fell to William he built a castle to secure his control. Harold's sons were meanwhile raiding the southwest of England from a base in Ireland.
Their forces landed near Bristol but were defeated by Eadnoth.
Edward's death and claimants to the throne
By Easter, William was at Winchester, where he was soon joined by his wife Matilda, who was crowned in May The chronicler Orderic Vitalis states that Edwin's reason for revolting was that the proposed marriage between himself and one of William's daughters had not taken place, but another reason probably included the increasing power of William fitzOsbern in Herefordshire, which affected Edwin's power within his own earldom.
The king marched through Edwin's lands and built a castle at Warwick. Edwin and Morcar submitted, but William continued on to York, building castles at York and Nottingham before returning south.
On his southbound journey, the king began constructing castles at LincolnHuntingdonand Cambridge. Then the king returned to Normandy late in Although William returned to York and built another castle, Edgar remained free, and in the autumn he joined up with King Sweyn of Denmark. York was captured by the combined forces of Edgar and Sweyn.
Edgar was proclaimed king by his supporters, but William responded swiftly, ignoring a continental revolt in Maine. William symbolically wore his crown in the ruins of York on Christmas Dayand then proceeded to buy off the Danes. He marched to the River Teesravaging the countryside as he went.
But William was not finished; he marched over the Pennines during the winter and defeated the remaining rebels at Shrewsbury before building castles at Chester and Stafford. This campaign, which included the burning and destruction of part of the countryside that the royal forces marched through, is usually known as the " Harrying of the North "; it was over by Aprilwhen William wore his crown ceremonially for Easter at Winchester.
The legates ceremonially crowned William during the Easter court. Some of the native abbots were also deposed, both at the council held near Easter and at a further one near Whitsun.
The Whitsun council saw the appointment of Lanfranc as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, and Thomas of Bayeux as the new Archbishop of York, to replace Ealdred, who had died in September Hereward's forces attacked Peterborough Abbeywhich they captured and looted.
The death of Edward the Confessor and the conflicting claims to the English Crown
William was able to secure the departure of Sweyn and his fleet in allowing him to return to the continent to deal with troubles in Maine, where the town of Le Mans had revolted in Political realities Harold Godwinson - Harold succeeded his powerful father as Earl of Wessex ingiving him control over all of Southern England.
William - William was an ambitious and powerful ruler in Normandy. He wanted to build up his power, so the Normans could have a great empire, like their Viking ancestors.
Harald Hardrada - Harald was a famous Viking warrior and skilled commander. He already had secure control over his own land. Edgar Atheling - Even though Edgar was the closest blood relative to Edward, he was only a teenager when Edward died. He was not considered strong enough to hold the kingdom together in Who had the strongest claim according to the different factors?
Promises All four claimants had some promise that they believed gave them a right to the English throne. These involved the swearing of oaths, which were taken very seriously in 11th century Europe. Harold Godwinson almost certainly had the latest promise from the dying king himself, Edward the Confessor. William of Normandy probably had a promise in from Edward the Confessor, and a promise from the main contender, Harold.
The oath Harold swore to William was considered invalid by the Witan because it was made under the threat of death. Family ties Edgar Atheling had the strongest blood tie — but blood ties were not essential for the succession to the English throne at this time. All the claimants had some kind of family blood tie, except for Harald Hardrada. Edgar Atheling was the last surviving member of the Royal House of Wessex that had ruled England for centuries.
Political realities All the claimants had a strong degree of political power inexcept for Edgar Atheling.