William the Conqueror invades England - HISTORY
Edward the Confessor also known as Saint Edward the Confessor, was among the last According to the Norman chronicler, William of Jumièges, Robert I, Duke of . Edward always intended William the Conqueror to be his heir, accepting the .. Mother of God (Theotokos) · Immaculate Conception · Perpetual virginity. The life of king-saint Edward the Confessor, who built Westminster Abbey and is He continued to remain celibate even after his marriage to the daughter of Harold, who was quickly overthrown by William the Conqueror. William I usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the His marriage in the s to Matilda of Flanders provided him with a William argued that Edward had previously promised the throne to him and . shortly after the battle promulgated the Truce of God throughout his duchy, .
The cathedral became known as Westminster Abbey. Healing the sick Edward the Confessor was an enigmatic figure who was believed to have the power to heal. He began the royal custom of touching ill people to cure them. The tradition continued for nearly years until the reign of Queen Anne. He continued to remain celibate even after his marriage to the daughter of one of his closest advisors. He had no children and the throne passed to his brother-in-law, Harold, who was quickly overthrown by William the Conqueror.
Edward's supporters insisted he was a deeply religious, patient and peaceful ruler who resisted war and revoked unjust taxes. But his critics claimed the opposite. They maintained Edward was a weak and violent man and that his canonisation a century after his death was a political move.
Miracle of the ring Many legends sprang up about Edward the Confessor both during his lifetime and after his death. One that has stood the test of time happened towards the end of his life. Legend has it that Edward was riding to a ceremony at a chapel dedicated to St John the Evangelist in Essex when a beggar asked for alms.
Edward had no money with him so he took off his ring and handed it to the poor man instead. A few years later two English pilgrims were travelling through the Holy Land and became stranded. They were helped by an old man who told them he was St John the Evangelist. He asked the pilgrims to return it to the king telling him that in six months he would meet St John in heaven. Edward the Confessor died on January 5 He was made a saint in and his body was translated to a shrine at Westminster Abbey in Inhe returned to Normandy and asserted his authority, crushing the rebels at Val-es-Dunes after which he began to restore order in his Dukedom.
At Alencon, the burghers insulted his birth by hanging "hides for the tanner" over the walls. On taking the town he exacted a terrible revenge and had both their hands and feet amputated. One of life's great survivors, William finally emerged as undisputed Duke of Normandy. William matured into a tall, thick set man with reddish hair, which receded from his forehead early. According to measurements of his thigh bone, he stood about 5' 10" tall.
His voice was rasping and guttural. William undoubtedly possessed considerable powers of leadership and courage. He was devout and inspired loyalty in his followers, but could also be ruthless and cruel. William of Malmesbury provides us with a detailed description of the king in his Historia Anglorum: His anxiety for money is the only thing on which he can deservedly be blamed.
This he sought all opportunities of scraping together, he cared not how; he would say and do some things and indeed almost anything, unbecoming to such great majesty, where the hope of money allured him. I have here no excuse whatever to offer, unless it be, as one has said, that of necessity he must fear many, whom many fear.
Tradition states that when Duke William sent representatives to her father's court to request Matilda's hand in marriage, she retorted by proudly informing the representative that she was far too high-born to consider marrying a bastard.
Furious on receiving this response, William rode to Bruges, where he confronted Matilda on her way to church, he pulled her off her horse and threw her down in the street in front of her attendants and rode off.
An alternative version of the legend states that he rode to her father's court in Lille, marched defiantly into her room and threw her to the ground in her room and hit her. Whereupon it is said Matilda refused to marry anyone but William. They were an ill-assorted pair, he strongly built and five feet ten inches tall and she as it emerged when her skeleton was exhumed extremely short.
It proved however, to be a highly successful union and produced a large family. Edward and his brother Alfred had spent much of their childhood in exile at the Norman Court, their mother, Emma, had been a daughter of the House of Normandy. During this visit, Edward is purported to have promised his Norman cousin the crown of England, should he die without issue.
The true heir was Edgar the Atheling, Edward's great-nephew, the grandson of his elder brother Edmund Ironside, but he was still a child and knew little of England, having spent much of his life in exile in Hungary.
William the Conqueror
Others also coveted the English throne, the chief candidate amongst these was Harold, son of the powerful Godwine, Earl of Wessex, who's sister, Edith, was married to King Edward the Confessor. Harold was unfortunately shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy, where he found himself the unwilling guest of Duke William. The Confessor was now unlikely to survive long and Harold was anxious to return to England to forward his ambitions there. However, before he would allow his guest to leave, William required him to swear an oath to support his claim to the crown upon Edward's death.
Under duress, Harold finally consented and swore the oath on holy relics. Edward the Confessor finally breathed his last in January,and was buried in his foundation of St. Peter, Westminster, which had been consecrated but ten days previously. It was reported that on his deathbed he had nominated Harold Godwinson as his successor who was duly accepted as King by the Saxon Witangemot or council of elders, which traditionally elected the next English King.
Back in Normandy, on receipt of this ominous news, the formidable Duke William flew into a rage.
He began to build an invasion fleet to take by force what he considered to be his by right. The Pope himself, due to Harold's foresworn oath on holy relics, supported William's enterprise.
After Harold was crowned by Archbishop Stigand, a portentous star was seen in the skies, this has now been identified as Halley's comet, many in that superstitious age saw it as an omen of the wrath of God on the perjured King Harold and his followers. Harold assembled the fyrdd, the Saxon militia of freemen, in preparation for William's imminent landing, whilst the Duke prepared his fleet and waited for good weather to set sail for England.
In mid September, Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, invaded England, accompanied by Tostig, Earl of Northumbria, Harold's unruly and discontented brother, who had earlier been banished and his earldom confiscated. Harold marched his army north in haste to meet the invaders at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, where he won a decisive victory over the Viking army. At this time, the winds William had been pensively awaiting turned favourable and he set sail with his massive invasion fleet.
News of his landing at Bulverhythe was conveyed to Harold, who responded by hurrying south to meet him, giving his exhausted army no respite.
Had Harold rested and reorganized his army, the outcome of the impending battle and English history could have been very different. Harold took up a defensive position on Senlac Ridge. The Norman army was thus forced to attack uphill, placing them at a disadvantage. The Saxon army formed a shield wall along the edge of the hill which rebuffed repeated Norman attacks. A rumour arose in the Norman ranks that Duke William was dead, causing panic and flight.
Many of the Saxon fyrdd pursued the fleeing Normans down the hill. William put heart into his army by loudly announcing he still lived. The Normans rallied, Harold's brothers Gyrth and Leofwine were both slain on the battlefield. The battle continued for most of the day, Harold and his Saxons fought with steely determination for possession of their country.
As dusk began to fall over Hastings, William ordered his archers to fire high into the air and one of these arrows is said to have hit Harold in the eye, blinding him, although this point is disputed by some sources. Whether this was the case or not, Harold fell mortally wounded under the dragon standard of Wessex. The Saxon army, seeing that the day was lost, began to flee the field. The houscarls, Harold's trained professional militia, loyally and valiantly defended the body of their King to the last, but they too finally fell and Harold's body was mutilated by the Normans, a vindictive act, which William punished.
The battle was lost and Anglo-Saxon England died with Harold on the battlefield that day. Harold's deeply distressed mistress, Edith Swan-neck came to William pleading for her lover's body and offering him its weight in gold in exchange, but William coldly refused her distraught request. He had Harold buried in a secret location. On the whole the south of England submitted to Norman rule, whereas in the north resistance was more prolonged.
BBC - Religions - Christianity: Saint Edward the Confessor
William responded by subjecting the English to a reign of terror. Determined to punish and crush rebellion to his rule and strike abject fear into English hearts, he laid waste vast tracts of Yorkshire, which suffered under a great famine for nine years after as a result.
He rewarded his Norman and French followers by distributing the confiscated lands of the English to them. The Harrying of the North In the brothers, Earls Edwin and Morcar rose in revolt with the support of Gospatric, William marched through Edwin's territory and built a castle at Warwick.
Edwin and Morcar submitted, but William continued on to York, building castles at York and Nottingham before returning south.
On his journey south, William began constructing further castles at Lincoln, Huntingdon, and Cambridge and placed his supporters in charge of these new visible expressions of Norman power in England, among them William Peverel, thought to be his illegitimate son, at Nottingham and Henry de Beaumont at Warwick.
InEdgar Atheling rose in revolt against William's rule and attacked York. Although William returned to York and built another castle, Edgar remained at liberty, and in the autumn of that year he joined forces with King Sweyn of Denmark.
The Danish king brought a large fleet to England and attacked not only York, but Exeter and Shrewsbury. York was taken by the combined forces of Edgar and Sweyn. Edgar was duly proclaimed King of England by his Saxon supporters, but William responded with haste, ignoring a revolt in Maine. William symbolically wore his crown in the ruins of York on Christmas Dayand then marched to the river Tees, ravaging the surrounding countryside as he proceeded north.
Waltheof, Earl of Northumbriawho had joined the revolt, submitted to William, along with Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria, and both were pardoned and allowed to retain their lands. But William's vengeance was not satiated, he marched over the Pennines during the winter and defeated the remaining rebels at Shrewsbury before building two further castles at Chester and Stafford.
In the heroic Hereward the Wake rose in a rebellion against Norman rule which centred on the Isle of Ely. William led an army to Ely, where Hereward, joined by a small army led by Morcar, the former Saxon Earl of Northumbria, made a desperate stand. Eventually the Normans bribed Abbot Thurstan of Ely to reveal a safe route across the marshes, which resulted in Ely being taken.
Morcar was captured and imprisoned, but Hereward managed to escape into the wild fenland to continue his resistance.