Last Anglo-Saxon king of England, January to October 1066. He was defeated and killed by William of Normandy (William (I) the Conqueror
) at the Battle of Hastings.
He succeeded his father Earl Godwin in 1053 as Earl of Wessex. Harold was Edward the Confessor's military commander, and became so powerful that one chronicler described him as the sub-king. In about 1063 William of Normandy tricked or forced him into swearing to support his claim to the English throne, and when the Witan (the Anglo-Saxon council including government officials, landowners, and high-ranking churchmen) elected Harold to succeed Edward the Confessor, William prepared to invade. Meanwhile, Harold's treacherous brother Tostig (died 1066) joined the King of Norway Harald (III) Hardrada in invading Northumbria. Harold defeated and killed them at Stamford Bridge on 25 September. Three days later William landed at Pevensey, Sussex, and Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October.
© RM 2014. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.