Harold II (Wessex) of England

Harald Godwinson (Wessex) of England (abt. 1022 - 1066)

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Harald Godwinson (Harold II) "King of the English" of England formerly Wessex
Born about in Thanet, Kent, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married about in More danicomap
Husband of — married about in York, Yorkshiremap
Descendants descendants
Died in Battle, Sussex, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 7 Jun 2012 | Last significant change: 20 Nov 2018
15:18: Jennifer Farrar posted a message on the page for Harold II (Wessex) of England. [Thank Jennifer for this]
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Categories: Norman conquest of England | Battle of Hastings | House of Godwin | This Day In History October 14.

British Aristocracy
Harold II (Wessex) of England was a member of aristocracy in the British Isles.
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Preceded by
Edward the Confessor
King of the English
5 Jan – 14 Oct 1066
Succeeded by
William the Conqueror

Harold Godwinsson (b. c. 1020/22 or 1022/25 - d. 14 Oct 1066 Battle of Senlac, Battle, Sussex[1]

burial: Battle. Later removed to Waltham Abbey, Essex.[2]



Harold was the second son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex and Gytha.[3]


  • c.1045: Earl of East Anglia circa 1045.
  • 15 Apr 1053: Earl of Wessex[2]
  • 1058: Earl of Hereford
  • by 1064: designated "Duke of the English."[2]
  • 05 Jan - 14 Oct 1066: King of the English[2][4]


Harold was married 'more Danico' (unrecognized by the church),[1] to Eadgyth Swanneshals (Edith Swanneck), before his marriage in 1064 to Ealdgyth (Alditha), widow of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Wales (d. 1063).

mistress. (c.1045) Edith Swanneshals (Swan-neck).[2] Issue: 5 - 6.[5][6]

  • Gytha (d. 1107)
  • Godwine (b. 1045/55 - d. after 1069)
  • Edmund (b. 1047/55 - d. after 1069)
  • Magnus (b. 1050/5 - d. after 1069)
  • Gunhild (d. after 1093)


m. (1064) Edith or Eadgyth (b. c.1042 - d. after 1070), dau. Alfgar, earl of Mercia and widow of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Wales. Issue: 1 or 2.[2][5]

  • (uncertain) Ulf (?) (Dec 1066 -1087), twin?[7]
  • Harold (Dec 1066 Chester - c.1098), twin?[7]
According to Weir (2011), Harold and Ulf may have been twins. She also states that some pedigrees assert that Ulf was an illegitimate son by Edith Swanneshals, which is seen in Cawley (2006).


Before coming to the throne Harold had been captured in France and, under duress, is alleged to have sworn that he would not accept the English crown but would support William of Normandy's claim.

When Edward the Confessor died the Wittan (Council) elected Harold to succeed him and he was crowned at Westminster Abbey. In Sept 1066 King Harold Hardrada of Norway and Tostig, Harold of England's half brother, sailed up the Humber and landed at Ricall near York. King Harold marched his army from the South up Ermine Street and decisively defeated the invaders at Stamford Bridge on 25th Sept.

Meanwhile, William of Normandy was assembling forces at the mouth of the Somme and as soon as the wind was favorable he crossed the Channel and landed at Pevensey on the 28th September. Harold marched south and reached Battle near Hastings on the 13th Oct.

The following day, Saturday 14th October 1066, is probably the most memorable in English History. Each army consisted of about 7,000 men but the Normans had the advantage of bow-men and cavalry while the English relied on axe and spear-men. The battle raged all day and in the evening, William ordered his archers to shoot high so that the arrows would drop vertically. Harold was struck in the right eye and mortally wounded.


According to contemporary documents, William of Normandy instructed Harold's burial near the battlefield in a position overlooking the sea.

A twelfth-century Waltham chronicle records that William later gave permission for Harold's body to be reburied in the church of the Holy Cross at Waltham, an account later repeated by William of Malmesbury and Matthew Paris. Waltham had been refounded as a collegiate church by Harold around 1060. Harold's tomb was most likely located before the high altar of the eleventh century church, i.e. near the position to the east of the church marked today by an inscribed slab. A 14th century chronicler recorded that the tomb had the king's image. Later a stone was noted at Waltham with the inscription: HIC IACET HAROLDUS INFELIX.[8]


  • Ashley, M. (2008). A Brief History of British Kings and Queens, pp. 47-50. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press Book Publishers. Print.
  • Cawley, C. (2006). "Harold (1022/5 - 14 Oct 1066)." Medieval Lands v.4. Fmg.ac. Web.[2]
  • Duffy, M. (2003). Royal Tombs of Medieval England, pp. 42-43.[3]
  • "Gemot at Northampton AD 1065," (1866). Notes and Queries, 1, pp. 5-6. The Dryden Press. Google Books.[4][9]
  • Weir, A (2011). Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy. London: Vintage Books. eBook. 9781446449110
Citations and Notes

  1. Weir (2011) states that Harold was born c. 1020/22 and died at the "Battle of Senlac (now known as the Battle of Hastings, although it took place eleven miles away at Battle in Sussex)." Cawley (2006), gives a DOB btw 1022/5; and Ashley (2008), places it at c. 1022.
    see also: Fryde, E.B., Greenway, D.E., Porter, S. & Roy, I. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology, 3rd ed, p. 26. London: Royal Historical Society; Wikipedia: Senlac Hill
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Ashley, 2008
  3. Gytha, sister of Jarl Ulf who married Cnut's sister, Estrith. Harold had five brothers Tosti, Earl of Northumbria, Gyrth, Earl of East Anglia, Leofwine, Earl of East Midlands, Wulfnoth and Earl Swein. His three sisters were Edith, Queen of England by marriage to Edward the Confessor, Gunnhild and Aelfgyva.
  4. 06 Jan 1066: Coronation at Westminster Abbey
  5. 5.0 5.1 Weir, 2011
  6. Cawley, 2006
  7. 7.0 7.1 Weir (2011), states that Ulf and Harold may have been twins
  8. There is also tradition that Harold was buried in Bosham Church, situated in estates owned by his father, Earl Godwin. Over the years coffins and bones have been found, but nothing to prove they had anything to do with Harold.
    see also: Duffy, 2003
  9. see also:Space:Northamptonshire Notes & Queries; google:Define:Gemot
See Also...
  • Lewis, M. (2013). Visual Representations of Harold II (Godwinson). The Haskins Society Journal Japan, 5, pp. 1-14. Academia.edu. Web.[5]

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No known carriers of Harold II's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests.

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Images: 4
Map: Edward's Death
Map: Edward's Death

CAUTION! House of Godwin pedigree (Searle, 1899)
CAUTION! House of Godwin pedigree (Searle, 1899)

Harold's tomb at Waltham Abbey
Harold's tomb at Waltham Abbey

Harold II of England Image 4
Harold II of England Image 4


On 20 Nov 2018 at 15:18 GMT Jennifer Farrar wrote:

Why do you use the Scandanavian spelling of his name. Harald is Scandanavian. The Saxon's spelled it Harold and all references I have seen in history books is Harold.

Also his fathers name is spelled in Scandanaian style, actually it wasn't a name, but a descriptive appellation, Godwinson, not Godwinsson.

Saxons didn't use the "ss", the name Johnsson is Scandanavian, Johnson is axon

On 2 Jul 2017 at 06:13 GMT C. Mackinnon wrote:

Please note died at Battle of Senlac Ridge which took place at what is now Battle in Sussex, not at Hastings.

On 22 Apr 2017 at 06:19 GMT Sarah (Murtaugh) Heiney wrote:

UNKNOWN-76879 and Wessex-292 appear to represent the same person because: Clear duplicate (along with rest of family)

On 5 Sep 2015 at 16:56 GMT Jack Day wrote:

Godwinson-14 and Wessex-292 appear to represent the same person because: These are the same person. Wessex-292 is the established and PPP'd profile.

Harold II is 34 degrees from Rosa Parks, 32 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 21 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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