Harold Godwinson

The clash of 1066 between William the Conqueror and Harold Godwinson had widespread ramifications. In the book, The English Heritage, it states that it is almost a certainty that Edward the Confessor had promised, or at the very least mentioned, England’s crown to Duke William of Normandy. However what is not certain is whether Harold was actually sent to Normandy to confirm the promise Edward the Confessor made to William, or another reason entirely. Possibly the most famous primary source from that time is the Bayeux Tapestry. The book 1066, by Andrew Bridgeford, lays down a new reason for Harold Godwinson to go the Normandy, and the evidence Bridgeford states is found within the Bayeux Tapestry.

Andrew Bridgeford tells a tale of Harold Godwinson going to Edward the Confessor asking him for permission to travel to Normandy. He also explains that other sources from that time period, pro William sources, explain that Edward sent Harold Godwinson to Normandy to seal the deal with William and reaffirm Edwards promise. However Bridgeford shows through the Bayeux Tapestry that Harold went to ask permission to retrieve his brothers held by William the Conqueror. Bridgeford stated that the Bayeux Tapestry was designed in such a way as to not be definitive on either story.

The Bayeux Tapestry then tells the story of Harold Godwinson getting blown off course across the English Channel and then Bridgeford explains that William ends up saving Harold from a hostile Lord. Bridgeford explains that the depiction of Harold in front of William is clear in showing what really happen. Bridgeford shows that in the Tapestry Harold points to another man, with an English Haircut instead of the tradition Norman style. This seems to point toward a story that coincides with Harold Godwinson’s version events overtly on the Tapestry. That William had saved Harold and that William held Harold’s Brothers is Bridgeford’s reason why Harold was forced to make a vow that William would be King after Edward. Bridgeford explains that one brother returned to England, but the other stayed behind.

While the wording, and visuals, in the Tapestry are vague, and some points may point to one story or the other, it may not be possible to ever tell which version is true. The importance of still looking into this event however, is that it is one of the main events that created the difficult relationship, full of conflict, France and England shared.

Bridgeford, Andrew. 1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry. New York: Walker Publishing Company, 2006.

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One Response to Harold Godwinson

  1. My loyal vassal Dr. Kilcrease tells me that she learned a lot about other interpretations of the Tapestry from your longer research paper. She will be adding new information to her lectures on the topic based in your research. Jolly good work!

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