battle of stamford bridge

The nobility of your forbears magnified you, O Edith,
And you, a king’s bride, magnify your forbears.
Much beauty and much wisdom were yours
And also probity together with sobriety.
You teach the stars, measuring, arithmetic, the art of the lyre,
The ways of learning and grammar.
An understanding of rhetoric allowed you to pour out speeches,
And moral rectitude informs your tongue
– Godfrey of Cambrai, prior of Winchester Cathedral (1082-1107)

Edith of Wessex was born c. 1025, the eldest daughter of Godwin, Earl of Wessex, and his wife Gytha. Her family was a formidable one: Godwin was one of the most powerful men in England, while Gytha was the sister-in-law of Cnut.

She was raised at Wilton Abbey, which she later had rebuilt as a sign of gratitude. There she learned Latin, French, Danish, and some Irish as well as grammar, rhetoric, arithmetic, weaving, embroidery, and astronomy. There is little else we know about her early life apart from her education, but she seems to have been especially close to her brother Tostig.

Edith’s father, Godwin, had a troubled relationship with King Edward the Confessor because Edward believed that Godwin was responsible for the death of his brother. Even so, Godwin was the most powerful man in England and Edward needed his support, and so married Edith at Godwin’s behest on 23 January 1045.

The relationship does not seem to have been a particularly romantic one. They were 20 or so years apart in age and he disliked her family, but all the same she had some influence and it was said that she always advised Edward wisely, and did a lot to improve his kingly image.

In 1051, Godwin and Edward’s relationship significantly deteriorated. Rather than risk arrest, Godwin fled the country with his sons. Edith was sent to a nunnery and all her lands confiscated, perhaps because he didn’t like her, thought they had little hope of conceiving together and wished to remarry, or simply wanted to get revenge on her father. The next year Godwin returned to England and civil war looked likely, but Edward lacked support and was forced to restore Godwin’s lands to him and reinstate Edith as Queen.

Though the two were still unable to have children (probably not because Edward had taken a vow of chastity, as is often said), Edith’s influence as Queen grew, as is shown by the increase in the amount of charters she witnessed, and she joined the circle of Edward’s most trusted advisers. 

In 1055, Edith’s brother, Tostig, became Earl of Northumbria but his rule was hugely unpopular and 10 years later the local Northumbrian population rebelled, killing Tostig’s officials and outlawing him, asking instead to be ruled by a member of the leading Mercian family. There is some evidence that many of the Northumbrian people viewed Edith as complicit in Tostig’s tyranny, and indeed it’s likely that she herself had one of Tostig’s political enemies assassinated. Finally, one of Edith’s other brothers, Harold was sent to deal with the matter. He agreed to the rebels demands, depriving Tostig of his earldom, and Tostig, who fled to Flanders, never forgave Harold, nor did Edith. 

On 5 January 1066, Edward the Confessor died, leaving Edith’s brother as King Harold II. The main chronicle on Edward’s reign, commissioned by Edith herself, actually attempts to discredit Harold’s claim, showing the extent of the rift between the siblings. Some historians, such as James Campbell, even believe that Edith was in personal danger from Harold, who wanted to placate the still restless Northumbrians by treating Edith harshly.

Harold successfully fought off Norwegian invaders that year at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, in which Tostig died fighting on the side of the Norwegians. Edith’s reaction is not recorded, but it is easy to imagine that she must have been heartbroken. Harold’s next major battle, the Battle of Hastings, was fought against William, Duke of Normandy. Harold and 2 of Edith’s other brothers died that day, and William was proclaimed King.

William sent men to Winchester to demand tribute from Queen Edith and she willingly complied. As a result, William allowed her to keep all her estates and income. Following this, Edith lived a comfortable life and when she died on 18 December 1075, she was recorded as the richest woman in England. She was laid to rest next to her husband in Winchester Cathedral and given a funeral befitting a queen. 

As with so many women in history, Edith is often overlooked, but we have much to thank her for. Because she commissioned the Vita Edwardi Regis, she is responsible for much of the information we have on this period, and art historian Carola Hicks even suggests that she commissioned the Bayeaux Tapestry. Regardless of whether this theory is true, Edith is a person worth remembering. She was strong, determined, and loving, though some of her more corrupt actions are utterly deplorable. Nonetheless, her influence and contribution to Edward the Confessor’s reign is not one that should be forgotten.

The Norman Invasion of England

Alright kids, today we’re going to learn about a little someone called William the Conqueror. Or, as he was known before he took the throne of England, William the Bastard. So around the time of 1066, this Anglo-Saxon dude named Harold Godwinson got elected (???) by a sort of kingsmoot-y thing to be the next king of England, since the old king, also named Edward, didn’t fuck enough and therefore had no kids. Just kidding he was celibate. Which I guess means not kidding? Who cares, the point is William was HEATED AS FUCK and went apeshit since he was stuck with Normandy, which for the record wasn’t even IN England. So William basically just said “fuck you and your rules, this guy’s a fuckin Saxon, which is no better than a Viking, so I should be king!” So he packed up his horsies and soldiers and went off to war. On the English front, Harold was fighting a Viking named Harald Hadrada, who also thought he should be king. They met at Stamford Bridge (no not the Chelsea stadium) and duked it out for hours. (Too many Harolds/Haralds) Fun fact, Godwinson almost had a surprise attack on the Vikings, but one berserker stood at the end of the bridge, and held them up, reportedly cutting down FORTY ANGLO-SAXON SOLDIERS. And although this allowed the Vikings to get ready for battle, they still fell to the might of Godwinson’s army. However, right after the battle, Godwinson got a report that William was crossing the English Channel. So he hauled ass back down the countryside, standing to meet William’s army. They fought for like 9 hours or something, and then a random arrow decided to hit Godwinson in a vital area, with many reports saying it punctured underneath his armpit. Needless to say, king-of-the-month Harold Godwinson laid dead, and William became King of England, and finally dumped his shitty nickname “the Bastard.” Not only did he take over England, but he got to KEEP NORMANDY!! Yeah medieval territory ownership is some weird shit that we may talk about some other day. But until then, thanks for sitting through a history ramble.


January 5th 1066: Edward the Confessor died

On this day in 1066, the English king and penultimate Anglo-Saxon ruler, Edward the Confessor, died aged 62. Edward became king in 1042, after living in exile in Normandy for several years after the Danish invasion of 1013 unseated his father. Edward’s rule was relatively peaceful, but his favourtism in court fostered resentment in many of England’s noble houses. In particular, the king was beholden to Godwine, Earl of Wessex, and, despite disagreements between the two which led to Godwine’s brief exile, the childless Edward chose Godwine’s capable son, Harold Godwinson, as his successor. However, Edward’s death in 1066 sparked a successon crisis, as he had allegedly already promised the throne to a distant cousin, William, Duke of Normandy. William was not the only contender for the throne, and Godwinson’s brother Tostig pledged his support to Norwegian king Harald Hardrada, and together they planned to invade Northumbria. On September 25th, 1066, the English forces defeated the Norwegians at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Willam siezed the moment, and landed on the southern coast of England. On October 14th, the English and Norman forces met on the battlefield at Hastings, with Harold’s 5,000 weary Englishmen vastly outnumbered by the 15,000 Normans. King Harold II, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, died in the fray, and William the Conquerer was crowned king of England on Christmas Day. Edward, the first monarch buried at the new Westminster Abbey, is mostly remembered for his role in prompting the crisis which led to the Norman invasion of England. This association has partly tarnished his reputation, but it is worth noting that Edward, called the Confessor because of his piety, was canonised by Pope Alexander III in 1161.

Today marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Stamford Bridge, fought on the 25th of September 1066. It is seen by many as the ‘End of the Viking Age’.

On that day, the Norwegian king Harald Hadråda was slain by the Saxon army of Harold Godwinson. Yet, the most remarkable warrior of the battlefield remains unnamed. According to the Saxons, a single warrior defended a bridge over the river Derwent, giving the rest of the Norse army time to arm themselves. (It was an exceptional hot day, so the Vikings did not wear their mails or hauberks, which was a heavy disadvantage when they where attacked by surprise.) It is said that that one man held the entire Saxon army back for over half an hour by defending that choke-point. He did not stop until a soldier with a pike swam under the bridge and stabbed him with from below. 

This painting is an interpretation of the battle by Peter Nicolai Arbo, painted in 1870.

The Age Of The Vikings

The Age of the Vikings took place during the middle age and its beginning is dated to the raid on Lindisfarne (North East England) in 793. During the Viking age the reason why Vikings would travel across the sea (and nearly the whole world) was for raids and treasures, expansion and reclamation of land and trade. First, the raids were merely an activity during summer but then stretched out, so that the Vikings would stay in foreign lands during winter as well. The consequence of that were three new Viking empires which were Ireland (in the vicinity of Dublin), the english Danelaw and the Normandy.

Important trading places of the Vikings were Ribe (700), Birka (~ 750), Kaupang (800) and Haithabu (808). Haithabu was burned down by Slavic tribes in 1066 and has not been rebuild. Instead it has been replaced by a trading place in  Schleswig, Germany.

Reasons and requirements for the stretching of their travels were their highly advanced building of boats, good war strategies and increasing population.

The name “Vikings” derives from the word “vík” which means bay or referring specifically to “Vík” the Oslofjord. “Víkingar” means people from the bay. But the term Vikings could best be translated to seafarers/pirates.

This term was used rather late in English sources. Other names of the Vikings were also Danes, Northmen or pagans.

The end of the Viking age is dated back to a battle at Stamford bridge (York) where Harald harðráði lost against Harald Godwinsson in 1066. Harald Godwinsson loses a battle against Wilhelm the conqueror at Hastings the same year.

i struggle a tad with what to keep as “historically accurate” in a blog that relates a highly fictionalized version of a legend…. but i will say this and leave it at that:

Some of the earliest surviving documents to mention the word Scotland include versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle from Abingdon, Worcester and Laud, written during the 11th Century, which state that prior to the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, Earl Tostig had sought refuge in Scotland under the protection of Malcolm III, King of Scots.[8][9] ‘Scotland’ was employed alongside Albania or Albany, from the Gaelic Alba.[10] The use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass all of what is now Scotland became common only in the Late Middle Ages.[11]

King Arthur is a legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries AD.

edit to add: this is stupidly passive aggressive and like i am sorry but also not sorry but its a stupid thing to be like !!!!!!!!!!!!! about considering the anachronistic speech issues with my boy’s canon. 

keeping it up for reference, yall do what u want.


September 25th 1066: Battle of Stamford Bridge

On this day in 1066 the Battle of Stamford Bridge occurred between the English, led by King Harold Godwinson, and the invading Norwegian forces led by King Harald Hardrada and Godwinson’s brother Tostig. The battle was a decisive English victory, seeing the deaths of thousands of Norwegians including Hardrada himself. However in mid-October that same year Godwinson was defeated by the Normans, led by William the Conqueror, at the Battle of Hastings. Stamford Bridge is often considered the last battle of the Viking age.

For the past 15 years, John Terry and Frank Lampard have gone into battle together for big games at Stamford Bridge. Last night these two ageing warriors fought it out on the same pitch for the last time — except on this occasion they were on opposing sides. Terry and Lampard each have three Premier League winners’ medals. Come May, one of them will have more than the other and they may look back on yesterday’s clash as the decisive factor as to why.


October 14th 1066: Battle of Hastings

On this day in 1066, the Normans, led by William the Conqueror, defeated the English forces at the Battle of Hastings. In January 1066, the childless King Edward the Confessor died, with Harold Godwinson named as his heir. However, across the seas in Normandy, Duke William was planning to invade England and claim the throne for himself. Despite having a relatively weak claim to the crown - his great-grandfather was the late Edward’s grandfather - William was determined to launch an assault on Harold’s forces to fulfil a promise Edward had supposedly made to make William his heir. Before this could be done, William needed the support of his nobles, who desired legal and spiritual justification for the potentially costly venture, and promised powerful barons land in his new kingdom. William was not the only contender for the throne, and Godwinson’s brother Tostig pledged his support to Norwegian king Harald Hardrada, and together they planned to invade Northumbria. William waited, hoping to use the Norwegian invasion as an opportunity to make landfall in the south of England while Harold was distracted in the north. On September 25th, the English forces defeated the Norwegians at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Willam siezed the moment, and landed on the southern coast of England, causing havoc in order to force Harold to face the invading Normans. On October 14th, the English and Norman forces met on the battlefield at Hastings, with Harold’s 5,000 weary Englishmen vastly outnumbered by the 15,000 Normans. The English defense was initially successful in holding off the Normans, but they soon crumbled. King Harold II, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, died in the fray, according to the Bayeux Tapestry from an arrow in the eye. William continued to face resistance from English forces, but by December his victory seemed assured, and William the Conquerer was crowned king of England on Christmas Day.


The Battle of Stamford Bridge

25 September 1066

King Harold Godwinson led the English forces against the invading Norwegian forces of King Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, on this day in British history, 25 September 1066. Harold Godwinson emerged victorious from the bloody battle during which both Harald and Godwinson’s brother Tostig were killed. Despite his successful defeat of the Norwegian invaders, Harold’s victory was short-lived. Less than three weeks later he was defeated and killed by the invading Normans at the Battle of Hastings. The images above are (1) Battle of Stamford Bridge by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1870) and (2) a page from The Life of St. Edward the Confessor that depicts the Battle of Stamford Bridge.