Harold Godwinson

Harold was the son of a powerful and wealthy earl who had held power through 4 kings. He was appointed to earl in 1044 and continued to hold powerful offices until his appointment as king in the first week of 1066. However, an uprising staged by his family against King Edward led to Harold, his mother and father, and his brothers to be exiled from England in 1050. Harold “went west to Bristol…took a ship…and sailed from the river Avon for Ireland.” (Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King. 35) In mid-September of 1051 Harold and his family sailed into England and were restored to their lands and titles to avoid crisis. Harold’s close knit family was torn apart in 1065 when his younger brother, Tosti, was faced with rebellion in his earldom.

It appears that tax levels were the main concern in the rebellion against Tosti, the reasons behind the increase in taxes are unclear but “whatever the reasons behind it, Tosti’s action was to prove a major error of judgement.” (Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King. 108) Any proposed increase in taxes was met with a great deal of opposition; when Tosti was called south to the royal court, these grievances, mixed with anger over other questionable actions and judgments of Tosti, led to a rebellion on October 3rd of 1065. When Harold met with the rebels and discovered that they would not be satisfied if Tosti was to continue as earl he gave a report to the king and Tosti saying that the northern earldom was no longer Tosti’s. Tosti was so furious that he blamed Harold for the whole rebellion stating that Harold had incited the rebels in order to gain more land. King Edward accepted the rebels terms and removed Tosti from power and his land holdings. Tosti, furious, left England with his wife and a few loyal followers in November of 1065. As November continued King Edward’s health began to fail and Harold began to take more control of England, he was well aware of the dangers posed by William of Normandy and Tosti and hoped to secure loyalty in England before Edward died.