Harold's Pledge to Duke William of
unfortunately shipwrecked in 1064 on the coast of Ponthieu
He became a
'guest', if not a prisoner, of William Duke of Normandy.
Harold was forced to take an oath to the effect that he would
marry William's daughter thus reinforcing William's claim to
the crown of England. William then allowed Harold to return to
The visit ended
with Harold swearing his infamous oath to Duke William which
was described by the Anglo-Norman historian Orderic Vitalis:
"Harold himself had taken an oath of fealty to Duke William at
Rouen in the presence of the Norman nobles, and after becoming
his man had sworn on the most sacred relics to carry out all
that was required of him. After that, the Duke had taken
Harold on an expedition against Conan, Count of Brittany, and
had given him splendid arms and horses and heaped other tokens
upon him and his companions."
Tapestry describes this critical event. William is illustrated
as calling upon Harold to swear an oath of allegiance to him
and to his right to the throne. The Tapestry shows Harold,
both hands placed upon religious relics enclosed in two
shrines, swearing his oath as William looks on.
death of Edward the Confessor on January 5th 1066, an assembly
of thanes and prelates and leading citizens of London declared
that Harold was their rightful king. Harold Godwinson was
therefore crowned King Harold II of England the day after
himself on the grounds that his oath to William of Normandy
was taken under duress and therefore invalid. William
protested against what he referred to as the bad faith of
Harold, and proclaimed his intention to assert his rights in
battle by the sword!