||Harold II (Wessex) of England was a member of aristocracy in the British Isles.|
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Edward the Confessor
|King of the English
5 Jan – 14 Oct 1066
William the Conqueror
Harold Godwinsson (b. c. 1020/22 or 1022/25 - d. 14 Oct 1066 Battle of Senlac, Battle, Sussex
burial: Battle. Later removed to Waltham Abbey, Essex.
Harold was the second son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex and Gytha.
Harold was married 'more Danico' (unrecognized by the church), to Eadgyth Swanneshals (Edith Swanneck), before his marriage in 1064 to Ealdgyth (Alditha), widow of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Wales (d. 1063).
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.
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