Facts and Events
Edward the Confessor gave an oral declaration of his last will and testament on his deathbed, known in the eleventh century as a man's 'verba novissima' - where he allegedly declared Harold as his successor. This event is depicted by the Bayeux Tapestry and if it truly took place, his final words would have taken precedence over any previously mentioned or written requests. However, with no clear instructions for a smooth succession, Harold was elected king by the Witenagemot, an early predecessor of parliament, on January 6, 1066. As news of his accession spread throughout Europe, Harold’s throne became instantly threatened, as both King Harald of Norway and Duke William of Normandy believed they were each Edward’s rightful heirs. Harold organized an army and defeated Harald Hardrada’s forces in the northern parts of England just months before the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066, where he was slaughtered in battle by William the Conquerer’s forces during the successful Norman conquest of England.
The death of Harold Godwinson at Hastings meant that Anglo-Saxon rule had come to an end. Harold's loss at Hastings sparked profound changes for the course of English history, including the introduction of Norman architecture in England, and even the creation and development of the Middle English language.