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Harold,1022?–1066, king of England (1066). The son of GodwinGodwin
, d. 1053, earl of Wessex. He became chief adviser to King Canute, was created (c.1018) an earl, and was given great wealth and lands. After Canute's death (1035) Godwin and Queen Emma, Canute's widow, supported the claims to succession of her son
..... Click the link for more information. , earl of Wessex, he belonged to the most powerful noble family of England in the reign of Edward the ConfessorEdward the Confessor,
d. 1066, king of the English (1042–66), son of Æthelred the Unready and his Norman wife, Emma. After the Danish conquest (1013–16) of England, Edward grew up at the Norman court, although his mother returned to England and married the
..... Click the link for more information. . Through Godwin's influence Harold was made earl of East AngliaEast Anglia
, kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England, comprising the modern counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. It was settled in the late 5th cent. by so-called Angles from northern Germany and Scandinavia.
..... Click the link for more information. . He went into exile with his father in 1051, returning to help him regain power the next year. His succession (1053) to the earldom of Wessex and to Godwin's great estates made Harold the most powerful figure in England except for the king, and he aspired to become heir to the throne. He gained glory by a successful campaign against the Welsh leader Gruffydd ap LlywelynGruffydd ap Llywelyn or Llewelyn
, d. 1063, ruler of Wales (1039–63). A series of campaigns against other Welsh princes made him the ruler of virtually all Wales.
..... Click the link for more information. in 1062–63. Shortly after this (probably in 1064), Harold was apparently shipwrecked on the coast of Ponthieu and was surrendered by the count of Ponthieu to William, duke of NormandyNormandy
, Fr. Normandie , region and former province, NW France, bordering on the English Channel. It now includes five departments—Manche, Calvados, Eure, Seine-Maritime, and Orne. Normandy is a region of flat farmland, forests, and gentle hills.
..... Click the link for more information. (later William IWilliam I
or William the Conqueror,
1027?–1087, king of England (1066–87). Earnest and resourceful, William was not only one of the greatest of English monarchs but a pivotal figure in European history as well.
..... Click the link for more information. of England). Harold then, possibly under coercion, took an oath to support William's candidacy to the English throne. When the Northumbrians revolted (1065) against Harold's brother TostigTostig
, d. 1066, earl of Northumbria; son of Earl Godwin of Wessex. He was banished with his father in 1051 and returned with him in their armed invasion of 1052. Made earl of Northumbria in 1055, Tostig jointly invaded (1063) Wales with his brother Harold (later King Harold of
..... Click the link for more information. and chose Morcar in his place as earl of Northumbria, Harold took Morcar's part. The family was thus divided when Edward the Confessor died (1066), after naming Harold his heir instead of William. Harold was also the choice of the council to be king. William of Normandy immediately undertook an invasion. At the same time, Tostig, with Harold IIIHarold III
or Harold Hardrada
, Norse Harald Harðráði [Harold stern council], d. 1066, king of Norway (1046–66), half-brother of Olaf II.
..... Click the link for more information. of Norway, invaded England in the north. Harold went north and soundly defeated them (Sept. 25, 1066) at the battle of Stamford Bridge, in which both Tostig and Harold III were slain. Then the harassed king hurried south to oppose William, who had landed at Pevensey. Harold established his forces in hastily built earthworks near HastingsHastings,
city (1991 pop. 74,979) and district, East Sussex, SE England. A resort and residential city, Hastings is backed by cliffs and has a 3-mi (4.8-km) marine esplanade, parks, and bathing beaches. The site was occupied in Roman times.
..... Click the link for more information. . They fought valiantly but were finally put to rout, and Harold was killed.
See biography by P. Compton (1961); F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (3d ed. 1971).