Father – Earl Godwin of Wessex
Mother – Gytha Thorkelsdottir
Spouse – Edith the Fair (Swanneck), Edith of Mercia
Children – Godwin, Edmund, Magnus, Gunhilda, Gytha, Harold, Ulf
King of England – 1042 – 1066
Predecessor – King Edward the Confessor
Successor – King William I (the Conqueror)
Harold’s earls Morcar and Edwin were defeated by Harald and Tostig at this battle. The two earls fled the battlefield.
Harold won a decisive victory over the Norwegian invaders. Both Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson were killed.
Battle of Hastings
Harold knew that he didn’t have the manpower to defend Caldbec Hill and so at first light he moved his men to Senlac Hill where they formed a shield wall and waited for the Normans.
William arrived and set up his forces at the bottom of the hill. He had three groups – Normans, Flemings and Bretons, both cavalry and infantry. William opened the battle with a barrage of arrows which, because of the hill flew over the heads of the Saxons. Next William sent in his infantrymen but they were unable to break through the shield wall. A group of Breton infantrymen turned and ran down the hill. The Saxons that had been withstanding that group broke the shield wall and ran down after them. William ordered that they become the focus of the next attack and although some managed to return to their line most were cut down. It is thought that Harold’s two brothers lost their lives at this point.
Having seen how the Bretons fleeing down the hill broke the shield wall, William changed tactic and ordered his men to do the same thing. Although the shield wall did not break so spectacularly again it did begin to weaken. With the light beginning to fade William ordered his archers to fire again but to angle them higher so that they hit the men just behind the shield wall. It is thought that one of these arrows went through the eye slit of Harold’s helmet and struck him in the eye or near to the eye. It is thought that while reeling from this injury he was cut down by a sword, possibly to his thigh, or an axe and died of his injuries.
Harold’s body was so mutilated that it could only be recognised from marks on the body and may have been identified by his long term mistress, Edith Swanneck. Harold’s mother offered William her son’s weight in gold for the body but William refused. The exact burial place of Harold’s body remains a matter of dispute but a body found at Bosham in 2003 which was lacking a head and leg is a likely candidate.
Published Jul 17, 2015 @ 10:22 – Updated –
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2015 – 2018). King Harold II (Godwinson) of England 1020 – 1066. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/harold-godwinson-1020-1066 Last accessed March 18th, 2019
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