Return to the Battle of Hastings

Harold Godwin

"And this mad Englishman could not endure to await the decision of a public election, but on the tragic day when that best of all men was buried, while all the people were mourning, he violated his oath and seized the royal throne with acclamation, with the connivance of a few wicked men."

William of Poitiers, Gesta Guillelmi

Harold Godwin was the most powerful magnate in the land and based his claim to the English throne on a supposed deathbed bequest by Edward, in which he was supported by the royal council (witan).

In the Bayeux Tapestry, the king sits on his throne, with the orb and scepter, the sword of state being offered to him. Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury, holding his maniple, officiates at the coronation.