He claimed that he had been promised the English throne on the death of King Edward, however there were other claimants:
- Harold Godwinsson, Earl of Wessex – the most powerful man in England after the King. He claimed that on his deathbed, King Edward, had told him to be the next king.
- King Hadrada, the Viking King of Norway – related to King Canute, our King from 1016-1032, also claimed the throne. This was flimsy, but in those days force won.
- Then there was William, Duke of Normandy. The cousin of King Edward and ruler of Normandy, he claimed Edward had promised him the throne in return for help in the past. William claimed Harold had visited to confirm it and even made a holy oath supporting it.
However, others say that Harold was shipwrecked off Normandy, captured by Guy de Ponthieu and William organised his release in return for the sacred oath. Basically, they claim Harold was tricked.
In those days the King was chosen by The Witenagemot, known as the Witan, however, Harold was in England, the others weren’t, so unsurprisingly they choose him! He was crowned on the same day that they buried King Edward. They didn’t waste time in those days!
Immediately, both Hadrada and William invaded the country from different ends.
So, Harold had to lead his army up north to beat Hadrada, which he did at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, then rush his army back down south, which he did in four days! When he arrived his tired, shattered army had to fight another battle.
Then when William won, the Witan didn’t accept him and appointed Edgar the Etheling. As a result, William ran amok killing people all over the South East, however the Witan got the message and quickly had him crowned on Christmas Day!
We have a musical 1066 – The Battle of Hastings telling this story, which you can download at https://bit.ly/2Vpu5wa and start rehearsing today!