Harold Godwinson



It is difficult to know what Harold was really like, because the people who wrote about him were 'biased' (those who were on his side wrote nice things about him, and those who were against him wrote bad things about him).

Study these three Sources, then answer the question sheet by clicking on the 'Time to Work' icon at the top of the page.


The following websites will help you research further:


Harold Godwinson:

BBC History - a short biography

The History Learning Site - basic biography

Heritage History - a basic narrative of his life, with links to chapters about Harold in a number of old books.



Harold's claim to the throne:

One of the issues historians sometimes debate is what claim the three claimants had to the throne.  I have never thought this mattered much, since the matter was decided by warfare, and 'might was right' in the end.
However, if you are interested, this document evaluates Harold Godwinson's claim to the throne.


1  One opinion of Harold Godwinson

This was written by Florence of Worcester, who died in 1118.

(Note that, in those days, 'Florence' was a man's name.)

Harold began to get rid of bad laws.

He made new good laws.

He helped the Church, and he was kind of bishops and monks.

He loved God.  He was not proud.

He was the friend of all good men.

but he was the enemy of all bad men.


2  Another opinion of Harold Godwinson

This was written by William of Poitiers, in about 1071.

Harold was a proud, cruel bully a hateful, bad ruler.

who ruined you and made you slaves!


3  Harold Godwinson the lifesaver

This is a scene from the Bayeux Tapestry (made about 1067-70).  The tapestry starts by telling the story of how Harold helped William of Normandy during a battle, and did the brave deed shown in the picture below.

The Latin words mean: 'They have crossed the River Cosnon.  Here Duke Harold pulled the men from the quicksand':