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Re: Regarding Harold's oath to William

Oh that was so well written!!  If only people would read these stories in
books and not depend on the super-compressed versions of the internet and
our newsletter.  These brief histories that you find there should whet your
appetite so that you go to  feast in a book.  It left out that Tosti, Harold
Godwinson's brother, was also helping or instigating
the attack on York with Harold Hardrada.  I didn't know about the marriage
agreements that William the Conquorer required.  I have a couple of lineage
charts for these families which don't exactly agree with each other.  Then
we have the problem of double names for these women also.

Thanks for providing the reference.
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Sinclair <RHSinclair@uswest.net>
To: sinclair list serve <sinclair@jump.net>
Date: Saturday, May 08, 1999 1:20 PM
Subject: Regarding Harold's oath to William

>>From the book THE GREAT BATTLES OF ALL NATIONS    vol.1   publ. 1899
>  chapter XI
>The Battle of Hastings
>Conquest of England by Duke William of Normandy,
>Afterward styled William The Conquerer
>           A.D. 1066
>The Battle of Hastings is recognized as the first step by which
>England reached her present strength.  Previously the importance of
>the country had been meager.  Afterward it emerged from insignificance
>into power.
>   The interest of this eventful struggle, by which William of
>Normandy became King of England, is materially enhanced by the
>character of the competitors for the crown.  They were three in
>number.  One was a foreign prince from the north; one was a foreign
>prince from the south; and one was a native hero of the land.  Harald
>Hardrada, the strongest and the most chivalric of the kings of Norway,
>was the first; Duke William of Normandy was the second; and the Saxon
>Harold, the son of Earl Godwin, was the third. Never was a nobler
>prize sought by nobler champions, or striven for more gallantly.  The
>Saxon triumphed over the Norwegian, and the Norman triumphed over the
>Saxon; but Norse valor was never more conspicuous than when Harald
>Hardrata and his host fought and fell at Stamford Bridge; nor did
>Saxons ever face their foes more bravely than Harold and his men on
>the fatal day of Hastings.
>     During the reign of King Edward the Confessor over the land, the
>claims of the Norwegian king to the crown were little thought of; and
>though Hardrada's predecessor, King Magnus of Norway, had on one
>occassion asserted that, by virtue of a compact with the former king,
>Hardicanute, he was entitled to the English throne, no serious attempt
>had been made to enforce his pretensions.  But the rivalry of the
>Saxon Harold and the Norman William was foreseen and bewailed by the
>Confessor, who was believed to have predicted on his deathbed the
>calamities that were impending over England.  Duke William was King
>Edward's kinsman. Harold was the head of the most powerful noble
>house, next to the royal blood, in England; and, personally, he was
>the bravest and most popular chieftain in the land.  King Edward was
>childless, and the nearest collateral heir was a puny unpromising
>boy.  England had suffered too severely, during royal minorities, to
>make the accession of Edgar Atheling desirable; and long before King
>Edward's death, Earl Harold was the destined king of the nation's
>choice, though the favor of the Confessor was believed to lead toward
>the Norman duke.
>     A little time before the death of King Edward, Harold was in
>Normandy. The causes of the voyage of the Saxon earl to the Continent
>are doubtful; but the fact of his having been, in 1065, at the ducal
>court, and in the power of his rival, is indisputable.  William made
>skillful and unscrupulous use of the oppurtunity.  Though Harold was
>treated  with outward courtesy and friendship, he was made fully aware
>that his liberty and life depended on his compliance with the duke's
>requests.  William said to him, in apparent confidence and cordiality,
>"When King Edward and I once lived like brothers under the same roof,
>he promised that if ever he became king of England he would make me
>heir to his throne.  Harold, I wish that thou wouldst assist me to
>realize this promise." Harold replied with expressions of assent; and
>further agreed, at Williams request, to marry William's daughter,
>Adela, and to send over his own sister to be married to one of
>William's barons.  The crafty Norman was not content with this
>extorted promise; he determined to bind Harold by a more solemn
>pledge, the breach of which would be a weight on the spirit of the
>gallant Saxon, and a discouragement to others from adopting his
>cause.  Befor a full assembly of the Norman barons, Harold was
>required to do homage to Duke William, as the heir apparent of the
>English crown.  Kneeling down, Harold placed his hands between those
>of the duke, and repeated the solemn form by which he acknowledged the
>duke as his lord, and promised to him fealty and true service.  But
>William exacted more.  He had caused all the bones and relics of
>saints that were preserved in the Norman monasteries and churches to
>be collected into a chest, which was placed in the council-room,
>covered over with a cloth of gold.  On the chest of relics, which were
>thus concealed, was laid a missal. The duke then solemnly addressed
>his titular guest and real captive, and said to him, "Harold, I
>require thee, before this noble assembly, to confirm by oath the
>promises which thou hast made me, to assist me in obtaining the crown
>of England after King Edward's death, to marry my daughter Adela, and
>to send me thy sister, that I may give her in marriage to one of my
>barons."  Harold, once more taken by surprise, and not able to deny
>his former words, approached the missal, and laid his hand on it, not
>knowing that the chest of relics was beneath.  The old Norman
>chronicler, who describes the scene most minutely, says, when Harold
>placed his hand on it, the hand trembled, and his flesh quivered; but
>he swore, and promised upon his oath to take Ele (Adela) to wife, and
>to deliver up England to the duke, and thereunto to do all in his
>power, according to his might and wit, after the death of Edward, if
>he himself should live; so help him God.  Many cried, "God grant it!"
>and when Harold rose from his knees, the duke made him stand close to
>the chest, and took off the pall that had covered it, and showed
>Harold upon what holy relics he had sworn; and Harold was sorely
>alarmed at the sight.
>Remembered having read this recently. Hope it helps. The story goes on
>to cover the Battle of Hastings.
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