On This Day, 1066: Harold Godwinson is crowned Harold II, King of England following the death of Edward The Confessor.
This would prove to be a interesting year in British history, and one that would end in a dynastic change and new future for England.
Upon ascending to the throne, Harold II would have many issues to deal with during his short reign, for his throne was coveted by many.
Harold’s coronation was disputed by William, the Duke of Normandy (who was also Harold’s cousin) and he intended to invade and seize the throne – An endeavour in which he ultimately succeeds.
In addition to William however, Harald III Hardrada of Norway and Tostig (Harold II’s brother) also had plans for England.
1066 would be a bloody year for England, with Tostig launching a series of devastating raids and forging an alliance with Harald of Norway.
Harold II would not vacate his throne without a fight, however. In September he strikes a crushing blow against Harald at the battle of Stamford Bridge.
Emboldened by victory, Harold II marches south to meet William in the field, and at Hastings in October his battle weary force is defeated by the Norman invaders.
The Battle of Hastings was a wretched, bloody affair with heavy losses incurred by both sides. Harold II’s shield wall held firm throughout ferocious fighting, but was ultimately broken.
William’s stronger, better prepared army was able to outlast and prevail over the broken Saxon force.
Harold II died nobly, however. Fighting to the death on the field in legendary circumstances, where he is allegedly shot through the eye with an arrow.
His death marks the end of an era in English history. The Saxon era had come and gone and the first Norman king was crowned on Christmas Day.