1066 - fact checking

Feb 2014
5
UK
Hi all, first time poster here.
I'm developing a project with a 1066 theme and I've been putting together short snippets of information I can find about the various people involved with and events leading up to and during the Battle of Hastings.
My knowledge of the subject is limited to an A level and my google-fu, so I was wondering if I'd be able to draw on the collective intelligence of you experts here to fact check what I have. I know much of the era is up for interpretation but I'd love to be as accurate as possible in representing this riveting period of time.
I was hoping to post what I have and possibly receive feedback or corrections, such as:

Edith Swannesha, Mistress of Harold

Sometimes mis-translated as Edith Swan-neck, Edith the Fair was the devoted mistress and 'common law' wife to King Harold.


Thanks in advance for any help with this and please redirect me if this is not the forum for that kind of discussion! :)
 

Sicknero

Ad Honorem
May 2012
4,407
Here to Eternity
One of the primary sources for the period that you're interested in is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. You can read it on-line here;

Avalon Project - The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

It's worth double-checking specific events though as parts of it are still debated. The famous story of the warrior on the bridge at Stamford for example, was added to the chronicle several decades later.
 
Feb 2014
5
UK
One of the primary sources for the period that you're interested in is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. You can read it on-line here;

Avalon Project - The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

It's worth double-checking specific events though as parts of it are still debated. The famous story of the warrior on the bridge at Stamford for example, was added to the chronicle several decades later.
Thanks for the link, Sicknero!
I'm finding it a little hard to parse though. For example, do you have a direct link to the clarification about the lone warrior on the bridge?
 

Sicknero

Ad Honorem
May 2012
4,407
Here to Eternity
Welcome to the site by the way : )

The Chronicle can be a confusing read as the published translations are put together from several different manuscripts so there's a fair bit of repetition and contradiction in it at times. The one that is available on-line is the Ingram transalation of the early 19th century and some of his conclusions have also been questioned since it was published.

Thanks for the link, Sicknero!
I'm finding it a little hard to parse though. For example, do you have a direct link to the clarification about the lone warrior on the bridge?
I read it in Michael Swanson's 1998 translation of the Chronicle which I don't have with me unfortunately. The original Manuscript C says of the battle;

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; 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.
I think Manuscript C actually cuts off at that point and this part ...

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.
... was added later, sometime in the 12th Century.

There's some discussion of it here - Harold: This Insane Englishman - Fulford - Stamford Bridge and here too - Stamford Bridge :: Paper

Norwegian versions of the battle also tell the same the same story but I think these were written even later.

I'm no expert anyway, I don't know if there is a definitive answer to whether or not the bridge incident really happened. I just mentioned it as an example of how the sources can be unclear or conflicting about some of the events and people of the time.

I think the point about the marriage of Edith (Ealdgȳð Swann hnesce = Edith the Gentle Swan, I think) to Harold II is that even though it was recognised at the time, it wasn't recognised by later Catholic writers so she was relegated by them to "common law" wife or just mistress.

Good luck with the project though ... I hope you keep us posted with how it's going.

I'm surprised other people aren't all over this thread already.
 
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Feb 2014
5
UK
Sicknero, you're a legend - thanks so much for the info and for getting back to me with those links, plenty more reading for me there. I always loved that notion of one Viking holding back the entire English army, whether it was an embellishment or not!

ArthursArmory, another great link, cheers for that too.

Melisende, I’d be interested in the influence that both Ealdgyth of Mercia, and Edith Swannesha had over Harold – it seems that Edith was his common law wife and ‘love’ as it were, whilst his marriage to Ealdgyth was one of political convenience to cement his relationship with Edwin and Morcar, which must have been upsetting for Edith (and Harold). Happy to be corrected on this?

Edratman, it’s not homework for school if that’s what you’re implying, but it is homework for fun. I’m a history enthusiast and gaming geek, and I’m designing a card game where you can play as either William or Harold and recreate the Battle of Hastings. Basically I’m looking for a fun way to get my son and nephews interested in a bit of history so I’m going to include some facts (and maybe some legends) on each of the cards.

There’s some more info on my blog so if anyone is interested I can post a link.

Thanks again to everyone who replied. :)
 

Sicknero

Ad Honorem
May 2012
4,407
Here to Eternity
It certainly is a great story and it might be true...

A pleasure anyway, this is my idea of a good time : ) The card game sounds great and it's excellent that you're prepared to put time into checking the details. My daughter introduced me to a cards version of D+D not long ago, that was loads of fun so I'd be interested to keep up with how your own game comes along.

Cheers :)
 
Feb 2014
5
UK
It certainly is a great story and it might be true...

A pleasure anyway, this is my idea of a good time : ) The card game sounds great and it's excellent that you're prepared to put time into checking the details. My daughter introduced me to a cards version of D+D not long ago, that was loads of fun so I'd be interested to keep up with how your own game comes along.

Cheers :)
Thanks mate, you can check out some teasers of the game here:

Fantasy Quest: 1066, Tears to Many Mothers

I'm finishing off the last of the research elements now and we've already tried the game out a few times - all said, I'm very happy with it. :)