CLAIMANT FACT FILE:
HAROLD GODWINSON
BRIEF DESCRIPTION:
Brother of King Edward the Confessor's wife.
Son of Earl Godwinson, the most powerful noble in England.
Had the support of the Witan.
Claimed to have been made King by Edward.
Was English and popular with many of the people.
Had been involved in running the country for years.
Had experience of government and control of an army.
CLAIM:

Harold Godwinson had a great deal of power by 1066. His father had died, so he was now head of the powerful Godwin family. When King Edward the Confessor lay dying in early January 1066, his wife Edith and Harold Godwinson were at his bedside.

According to Harold, King Edward's dying words were:

"I commend my wife and all my kingdom to your care"

If this was true, Harold had a rightful claim as he was carrying out the King's last wish.

PROBLEMS WITH THE CLAIM:
Did the words really mean King Edward wanted Harold to become King? Was Edward just asking Harold to look after his wife? Why did Edward suddenly change his mind?

Do we believe Harold? His only proper witness was his sister! There were probably others there, but nobody who would have been prepared to go against Harold.

Harold was crowned King very quickly after King Edward's death. Usually there would be a period of mourning. Was Harold trying to rush because he was covering something up?

If King Edward's dying wish was for Harold to become King, then Harold had the rightful claim. A King's dying wish replaced all previous promises or plans.


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