1066 and King Harold II

1066 was an extraordinary year for King Harold II (c.1020/22-66), the last of the Saxon kings. In January, after years of political and military wranglings, he was crowned King of England but there were others who wanted this title. Harold and his army readied themselves and waited all summer on the south coast for the expected invasion attempt by William, Duke of Normandy.

In September, the Vikings and Harold’s brother Tostig arrived in 300 ships from Norway, so Harold and his army had to quickly march 200 miles north to fight them off. They succeeded in a terrible battle which saw both Harold’s brother and the last king of the Vikings killed.

Harold then received news that the expected cross-Channel invasion had started! His army had to rush all the way back to fight off the Normans …. but this time they failed, as they were exhausted and did not wait for more men to join them. Harold was killed in this battle, known as the Battle of Hastings. It is thought that one of his wounds was an arrow in the eye. Some Englishmen refused to live under Norman slavery and sailed off to fight Normans in southern Europe.

(Image from the Bayeux Tapestry: Trevor Huxham at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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