Harold was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England and was killed by William, Duke of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings.
Harold was born in the early 1020s, the son of Godwine, Earl of Wessex. He succeeded to his father's titles in 1053, becoming the second most powerful man in England after the monarch. He was also a focus for opposition to the growing Norman influence in England encouraged by the king, Edward (known as 'the Confessor' for his piety).
In 1064, Harold was shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy. William, Duke of Normandy considered himself to be the successor to the childless Edward and is believed to have forced Harold to swear an oath to support his claim. The following year, the Northumbrians revolted against Tostig, Earl of Northumbria, who was Harold's brother. Harold replaced Tostig, turning him into a bitter enemy.
Edward died in January 1066 and Harold assumed power, claiming Edward had designated him as heir. William now used Harold's oath of 1064 to secure Papal support for his invasion of England.
In September, Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, aided by Tostig, invaded England, but they were defeated and killed by Harold on 25 September at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, near York. Three days later William landed in England. Harold hurried south with his army and, on 14 October, met William in battle near Hastings. A day-long battle ensued and Harold was defeated and killed, along with his brothers Gyrth and Leofwine.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.