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By Robert Lacey

With perception, humor and interesting aspect, Lacey brings brilliantly to existence the tales that made England--from Ethelred the Unready to Richard the Lionheart, the Venerable Bede to Piers the Ploughman.

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Harold’s supporters maintained that it was once an easy pledge of friendship among the 2 robust males who managed different facets of the Channel. the tale in line with William, besides the fact that, used to be that Harold’s pledge concerned even more than mere friendship. The tapestry exhibits Harold creating a deeply critical oath of allegiance - we see his palms outstretched, and he's swearing on not only one, yet huge containers of holy relics. Later Norman chroniclers had without doubt that Harold had promised to help William’s declare to the English throne as soon as the Confessor used to be lifeless. For 9 centuries humans have argued fiercely approximately what Harold did or didn't promise. It rarely turns out most likely that the formidable and dynamic earl may have sworn away a nation voluntarily, and if the oath were pressured out of him, then he basically didn't suppose sure by way of it whilst he took over England on Edward’s demise. yet we all know from the tapestry what occurred subsequent: a flaming ball of fireplace, defined by means of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as a ‘hairy star’, seemed within the heavens. glossy astronomers have pointed out this furry big name as Halley’s Comet, named after the seventeenth-century astronomer Sir Edmund Halley, who pointed out it whilst it omitted England in 1682. Elmer the flying monk observed the comet omit England in either 989 and 1066, and realised that it used to be a similar ‘star’ returning (see p. 69). Halley used to be capable of figure out the opposite dates while the comet’s seventy-six-and-a-half-year-long circlings of the sunlight approach may have introduced it with regards to the earth - and April 1066 used to be a kind of moments. yet William of Normandy used to be sure that the bushy celebrity used to be an indication of God’s anger at Harold for breaking his oath, and it served as God’s authorisation for the busy photo that quickly follows at the tapestry - a tableau of Norman axemen cutting down bushes and development an invasion fleet. In England, in the meantime, Harold used to be attempting to increase his place. His lover for a few years were the gorgeous Edith Swan-Neck - they'd had 5 sons and daughters jointly. yet to cement his energy in the English aristocracy, Harold now prepared a wedding of comfort with Ealdgyth, the sister of 2 of the country’s strongest earls. Ealdgyth and her brothers have been grandchildren of Leofric and Godgifu of Mercia. In different phrases, courageous King Harold’s felony spouse, the final queen of Anglo-Saxon England, used to be the granddaughter of woman Godiva. Harold may need performed greater to foster his relationships inside of his family. the former autumn, with ghastly timing, he had fallen out along with his fiery brother Tostig who had stalked off indignantly into exile. and in the summertime of 1066 Harold discovered that his brother had teamed up with Harald Hardraada, the King of Norway. Hardraada believed he had a declare on England via a treaty concluded through his father with Hartha Canute, and in September 1066 Harold heard that Tostig and Hardraada had landed their forces in Northumbria and had taken keep watch over of York. Harold knew that William’s fleet used to be poised at the different facet of the Channel able to sail at any second, yet he had no selection.

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