The Northern Way

Part 5: A.D. 1052 - 1069

Page 4

King Harold in the south, after he had come from the ships, that Harald, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty were come up near York, then went he northward by day and night, as soon as he could collect his army. But, ere King Harold could come thither, the Earls Edwin and Morkar had gathered from their earldoms as great a force as they could get, and fought with the enemy. (90) They made a great slaughter too; but there was a good number of the English people slain, and drowned, and put to flight: and the Northmen had possession of the field of battle. It was then told Harold, king of the English, that this had thus happened. And this fight was on the eve of St. Matthew the apostle, which was Wednesday. Then after the fight went Harold, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty into York with as many followers as they thought fit; and having procured hostages and provisions from the city, they proceeded to their ships, and proclaimed full friendship, on condition that all would go southward with them, and gain this land. In the midst of this came Harold, king of the English, with all his army, on the Sunday, to Tadcaster; where he collected his fleet. Thence he proceeded on Monday throughout York. But Harald, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty, with their forces, were gone from their ships beyond York to Stanfordbridge; for that it was given them to understand, that hostages would be brought to them there from all the shire. Thither came Harold, king of the English, unawares against them beyond the bridge; and they closed together there, and continued long in the day fighting very severely. There was slain Harald the Fair-hair'd, King of Norway, and Earl Tosty, and a multitude of people with them, both of Normans and English; (91) and the Normans that were left fled from the English, who slew them hotly behind; until some came to their ships, some were drowned, some burned to death, and thus variously destroyed; so that there was little left: and the English gained possession of the field. But there was one of the Norwegians who withstood the English folk, so that they could not pass over the bridge, nor complete the victory. An Englishman aimed at him with a javelin, but it availed nothing. Then came another under the bridge, who pierced him terribly inwards under the coat of mail. And Harold, king of the English, then came over the bridge, followed by his army; and there they made a great slaughter, both of the Norwegians and of the Flemings. But Harold let the king's son, Edmund, go home to Norway with all the ships. He also gave quarter to Olave, the Norwegian king's son, and to their bishop, and to the earl of the Orkneys, and to all those that were left in the ships; who then went up to our king, and took oaths that they would ever maintain faith and friendship unto this land. Whereupon the King let them go home with twenty- four ships. These two general battles were fought within five nights. Meantime Earl William came up from Normandy into Pevensey on the eve of St. Michael's mass; and soon after his landing was effected, they constructed a castle at the port of Hastings. This was then told to King Harold; and he gathered a large force, and came to meet him at the estuary of Appledore. William, however, came against him unawares, ere his army was collected; but the king, nevertheless, very hardly encountered him with the men that would support him: and there was a great slaughter made on either side. There was slain King Harold, and Leofwin his brother, and Earl Girth his brother, with many good men: and the Frenchmen gained the field of battle, as God granted them for the sins of the nation. Archbishop Aldred and the corporation of London were then desirous of having child Edgar to king, as he was quite natural to them; and Edwin and Morkar promised them that they would fight with them. But the more prompt the business should ever be, so was it from day to day the later and worse; as in the end it all fared. This battle was fought on the day of Pope Calixtus: and Earl William returned to Hastings, and waited there to know whether the people would submit to him. But when he found that they would not come to him, he went up with all his force that was left and that came since to him from over sea, and ravaged all the country that he overran, until he came to Berkhampstead; where Archbishop Aldred came to meet him, with child Edgar, and Earls Edwin and Morkar, and all the best men from London; who submitted then for need, when the most harm was done. It was very ill-advised that they did not so before, seeing that God would not better things for our sins. And they gave him hostages and took oaths: and he promised them that he would be a faithful lord to them; though in the midst of this they plundered wherever they went. Then on midwinter's day Archbishop Aldred hallowed him to king at Westminster, and gave him possession with the books of Christ, and also swore him, ere that he would set the crown on his head, that he would so well govern this nation as any before him best did, if they would be faithful to him. Neverrhetess he laid very heavy tribute on men, and in Lent went over sea to Normandy, taking with him Archbishop Stigand, and Abbot Aylnoth of Glastonbury, and the child Edgar, and the Earls Edwin, Morkar, and Waltheof, and many other good men of England. Bishop Odo and Earl William lived here afterwards, and wrought castles widely through this country, and harassed the miserable people; and ever since has evil increased very much. May the end be good, when God will! In that same expedition (92) was Leofric, Abbot of Peterborough; who sickened there, and came home, and died soon after, on the night of Allhallow-mass. God honour his soul! In his day was all bliss and all good at Peterborough. He was beloved by all; so that the king gave to St. Peter and him the abbey at Burton, and that at Coventry, which the Earl Leofric, who was his uncle, had formerly made; with that of Croyland, and that of Thorney. He did so much good to the minster of Peterborough, in gold, and in silver, and in shroud, and in land, as no other ever did before him, nor any one after him. But now was Gilden-borough become a wretched borough. The monks then chose for abbot Provost Brand, because he was a very good man, and very wise; and sent him to Edgar Etheling, for that the land-folk supposed that he should be king: and the etheling received him gladly. When King William heard say that, he was very wroth, and said that the abbot had renounced him: but good men went between them, and reconciled them; because the abbot was a good man. He gave the king forty marks of gold for his reconciliation; and he lived but a little while after -- only three years. Afterwards came all wretchedness and all evil to the minster. God have mercy on it!

((A.D. 1066. This year died King Edward, and Harold the earl succeeded to the kingdom, and held it forty weeks and one day. And this year came William, and won England. And in this year Christ-Church [Canterbury] was burned. And this year appeared a comet on the fourteenth before the kalends of May.))

((A.D. 1066. ...And then he [Tosty] went thence, and did harm everywhere by the sea-coast where he could land, as far as Sandwich. Then was it made known to King Harold, who was in London, that Tosty his brother was come to Sandwich. Then gathered he so great a ship-force, and also a land force, as no king here in the land had before gathered, because it had been soothly said unto him, that William the earl from Normandy, King Edward's kinsman, would come hither and subdue this land: all as it afterwards happened. When Tosty learned that King Harold was on his way to Sandwich, then went he from Sandwich, and took some of the boatmen with him, some willingly and some unwillingly; and went then north into Humber, and there ravaged in Lindsey, and there slew many good men. When Edwin the earl and Morcar the earl understood that, then came they thither, and drove him out of the land. And he went then to Scotland: and the king of Scots protected him, and assisted him with provisions; and he there abode all the summer. Then came King Harold to Sandwich, and there awaited his fleet, because it was long before it could be gathered together. And when his fleet was gathered together, then went he into the Isle of Wight, and there lay all the summer and the harvest; and a land-force was kept everywhere by the sea, though in the end it was of no benefit. When it was the Nativity of St. Mary, then were the men's provisions gone, and no man could any longer keep them there. Then were the men allowed to go home, and the king rode up, and the ships were dispatched to London; and many perished before they came thither. When the ships had reached home, then came King Harald from Norway, north into Tyne, and unawares, with a very large ship-force, and no small one; that might be, or more. And Tosty the earl came to him with all that he had gotten, all as they had before agreed; and then they went both, with all the fleet, along the Ouse, up towards York. Then was it made known to King Harold in the south, as he was come from on ship-board, that Harald King of Norway and Tosty the earl were landed near York. Then went he northward, day and night, as quickly as he could gather his forces. Then, before that King Harold could come thither, then gathered Edwin the earl and Morcar the earl from their earldom as great a force as they could get together; and they fought against the army, and made great slaughter: and there was much of the English people slain, and drowned, and driven away in flight; and the Northmen had possession of the place of carnage. And this fight was on the vigil of St. Matthew the apostle, and it was Wednesday. And then, after the fight, went Harald, King of Norway, and Tosty the earl, into York, with as much people as seemed meet to them. And they delivered hostages to them from the city, and also assisted them with provisions; and so they went thence to their ships, and they agreed upon a full peace, so that they should all go with him south, and this land subdue. Then, during this, came Harold, king of the Angles, with all his forces, on the Sunday, to Tadcaster, and there drew up his force, and went then on Monday throughout York; and Harald, King of Norway, and Tosty the earl, and their forces, were gone from their ships beyond York to Stanfordbridge, because it had been promised them for a certainty, that there, from all the shire, hostages should be brought to meet them. Then came Harold, king of the English, against them, unawares, beyond the bridge, and they there joined battle, and very strenuously, for a long time of the day, continued fighting: and there was Harald, King of Norway, and Tosty the earl slain, and numberless of the people with them, as well of the Northmen as of the English: and the Northmen fled from the English. Then was there one of the Norwegians who withstood the English people, so that they might not pass over the bridge, nor obtain the victory. Then an Englishman aimed at him with a javelin, but availed nothing; and then came another under the bridge, and pierced him terribly inwards under the coat of mail. Then came Harold, king of the English, over the bridge, and his forces onward with him, and there made great slaughter, as well of Norwegians as of Flemings. And the King's son, Edmund, Harold let go home to Norway, with all the ships.))

((A.D. 1066. In this year was consecrated the minster at Westminster, on Childer-mass-day. And King Edward died on the eve of Twelfth-day; and he was buried on Twelfth-day within the newly consecrated church at Westminster. And Harold the earl succeeded to the kingdom of England, even as the king had granted it to him, and men also had chosen him thereto; and he was crowned as king on Twelfth-day. And that same year that he became king, he went out with a fleet against William [Earl of Normandy]; and the while, came Tosty the earl into Humber with sixty ships. Edwin the earl came with a land-force and drove him out; and the boatmen forsook him. And he went to Scotland with twelve vessels; and Harald, the King of Norway, met him with three hundred ships, and Tosty submitted to him; and they both went into Humber, until they came to York. And Morcar the earl, and Edwin the earl, fought against them; and the king of the Norwegians had the victory. And it was made known to King Harold how it there was done, and had happened; and he came there with a great army of English men, and met him at Stanfordbridge, and slew him and the earl Tosty, and boldly overcame all the army. And the while, William the earl landed at Hastings, on St. Michael's-day: and Harold came from the north, and fought against him before all his army had come up: and there he fell, and his two brothers, Girth and Leofwin; and William subdued this land. And he came to Westminster, and Archbishop Aldred consecrated him king, and men paid him tribute, delivered him hostages, and afterwards bought their land. And then was Leofric, Abbot of Peterborough, in that same expedition; and there he sickened, and came home, and was dead soon thereafter, on All-hallows-mass- night; God be merciful to his soul! In his day was all bliss and all good in Peterborough; and he was dear to all people, so that the king gave to St. Peter and to him the abbacy at Burton, and that of Coventry, which Leofric the earl, who was his uncle, before had made, and that of Crowland, and that of Thorney. And he conferred so much of good upon the minster of Peterborough, in gold, and in silver, and in vestments, and in land, as never any other did before him, nor any after him. After, Golden-borough became a wretched borough. Then chose the monks for abbot Brand the provost, by reason that he was a very good man, and very wise, and sent him then to Edgar the etheling, by reason that the people of the land supposed that he should become king: and the etheling granted it him then gladly. When King William heard say that, then was he very wroth, and said that the abbot had despised him. Then went good men between them, and reconciled them, by reason that the abbot was a good man. Then gave he the king forty marks of gold for a reconciliation; and then thereafter, lived he a little while, but three years. After that came every tribulation and every evil to the minster. God have mercy on it!))

A.D. 1067. This year came the king back again to England on St. Nicholas's day; and the same day was burned the church of Christ at Canterbury. Bishop Wulfwy also died, and is buried at his see in Dorchester. The child Edric and the Britons were unsettled this year, and fought with the castlemen at Hereford, and did them much harm. The king this year imposed a heavy guild on the wretched people; but, notwithstanding, let his men always plunder all the country that they went over; and then he marched to Devonshire, and beset the city of Exeter eighteen days. There were many of his army slain; out he had promised them well, and performed ill; and the citizens surrendered the city because the thanes had betrayed them. This summer the child Edgar departed, with his mother Agatha, and his two sisters, Margaret and Christina, and Merle-Sweyne, and many good men with them; and came to Scotland under the protection of King Malcolm, who entertained them all. Then began King Malcolm to yearn after the child's sister, Margaret, to wife; but he and all his men long refused; and she also herself was averse, and said that she would neither have him nor any one else, if the Supreme Power would grant, that she in her maidenhood might please the mighty Lord with a carnal heart, in this short life, in pure continence. The king, however, earnestly urged her brother, until he answered Yea. And indeed he durst not otherwise; for they were come into his kingdom. So that then it was fulfilled, as God had long ere foreshowed; and else it could not be; as he himself saith in his gospel: that "not even a sparrow on the ground may fall, without his foreshowing." The prescient Creator wist long before

ENDNOTES:

(90) On the north bank of the Ouse, according to Florence of Worcester; the enemy having landed at Richale (now "Riccal"). Simeon of Durham names the spot "Apud Fulford," i.e. Fulford-water, south of the city of York. Back

(91) It is scarcely necessary to observe that the term "English" begins about this time to be substituted for "Angles"; and that the Normans are not merely the Norwegians, but the Danes and other adventurers from the north, joined with the forces of France and Flanders; who, we shall presently see, overwhelmed by their numbers the expiring, liberties of England. The Franks begin also to assume the name of Frencyscan or "Frenchmen". Back

(92) i.e. in the expedition against the usurper William. Back

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