History KS3 / KS4: 1066 - Claimants to the throne (1/6)

In 1066, it seems that four people - Edgar Aethling, Harald Hardrada, Harold Godwinson and William of Normandy - had all been promised the throne at one stage during his reign by Edward the Confessor, but who exactly had the strongest claim?

And which of them would the Witan, the Anglo-Saxon council, select?

It was very dangerous for a country when the King died without a clear heir to the throne, so swift action was needed.

Harold Godwinson was chosen as king on the very day that Edward was buried.

But how would the other three claimants to the throne react?

Please note: during the film it is suggested that Harald Hadrada was King Magnus I's son. It is now thought that this was not the case and Harald Hadrada was in fact King Magnus I's uncle.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 3:

This could be used as part of an activity for students to weigh up the evidence. Whilst watching this short film students could make bullet point notes summarising the claim of each person wanting to be king of England. They could then discuss their bullet point lists with others in the group until everyone is happy with the list. Then they could rank the four claimants, according to the strength of their claim and complete the following 'I believe ....... had the best claim to be King of England in January 1066 because............'

Key Stage 4:

Students could construct a timeline using the evidence in the film, from 1000 to 1066. On their timeline students could mark the event(s) that each of the claimants argues gave them the right to the throne of England. Then using the timeline they could construct a narrative explaining why there was a dispute over who should be the next king of England following Edward's death in early 1066.

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be relevant for teaching history in secondary schools in the UK. This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

1066: The Battle of Fulford (2/6)
1066: The Battle of Stamford Bridge (3/6)
1066: The Battle of Hastings (4/6)
1066: King William and Domesday Book (5/6)
1066: Revolt and resistance (6/6)