Who had the best claim to the throne in 1066?

By Ben Hannam (1K) In 1066, Edward the Confessor died. He had no children and there was much dispute over who should succeed him. There were four main contenders who were competing for the crown. Each had some valid arguments that supported their claim. The contenders were: King Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, Edgar the Atheling, Harold Godwinesson Earl of Wessex and finally; Guillame de Normandie, (William, (Duke of Normandy). he should be the rightful heir. Harald had the support of most people in the north and east of England which was occupied by the Vikings. As well as this he had the support of Tostig, the brother of Harold Godwinesson, who had been exiled to the Isle of White. This meant that he had powerful allies throughout the British Isles including some clans in Orkney. Harald also had had experience as a leader and a monarch in another country so may have helped him rule England.

Harald Hardrada was related to King Harthainut who was the King of England before Edward and the throne had been promised by Harthaninut to Harald Hardrada’s father. This promise had been passed down to Harald so he felt

However, he was a foreigner which meant that nobles and peasants in England may have turned against him. Finally, he

Harold argued that this was because his nephew was a hostage in Normandy so that by doing this he had saved his nephew’s life. Not only was he thought to be unreliable but he was also supposed to be a coward. Harold’s brother Tostig had been in trouble when his Tenants rebelled and Harold did not go to his brother’s aid. Edgar was the only blood relative of Edward the Confessor who was claiming the rights to be King of England. Edgar was only fourteen and had no experience of ruling a country. south-west England and Harold was also brother-in-law with Edward.would have found communication between England and Norway virtually impossible which would have meant one or the other Kingdoms falling apart or being invaded in his absence. Harold was only truly English competitor and had experience of ruling over people and was popular with all the nobles in . his father ran away from England as soon as there was trouble which gave Edgar the reputation of being a coward. A year later Harold returned and became Earl of Wessex. a foreigner in the minds of all the people in England. like Harald. Just fifteen years prior to the invasion. This meant he was unreliable and untrustworthy because he had gone against the King and was now asking for the throne. Earl of Wessex. Edgar had no support in England and relied on the fact that usually in England the throne went to the closest blood relative. I will now consider Edgar the Atheling’s claim. Edgar’s great grandfather was Edward the Confessor’s father to a different wife. They controlled all of so that he could be allowed to leave. This did not necessarily mean that he was on the best of terms with him. At the time. However. Prince Edgar had lived in Hungary for all of his life and spoke English very poorly. This was because in 1065. Also. As well as this. This would have made him. Another thing was that in 1064 Harold was stranded in Normandy and went to see William One of the strongest contenders was Harold Godwinesson. Harold’s family was the most powerful in all England. Harold and his father had rebelled against Edward and had been sent out of the country. William agreed. on the condition that Harold would support William in winning the English crown.

But William had experience of ruling a large dukedom which would have helped when ruling England. This meant he had allies in England and France as well as the Pope. William was experienced. William had the promise of Harold. William would be King. loyal and was anything but a coward. Harald Hardrada was too much of a foreigner and had no connections with the current King. This was the second closet relationship out of the four so usually. Also. Finally.a fleet of ships and a large army and was backed by the king of France and the Pope in Italy. he was the only person who had an official blessing from Edward the Confessor. although English. unlike Harold who may have been promised it only verbally by Edward. Edward’s mother. In contrast. In my opinion William had the strongest claimant to the throne. was William. Duke of Normandy. Edgar was too young and inexperienced. Also William had power . was a coward and would have said anything to become King. who he was on good terms with. . if Edgar had died. As well as this.England and claimed he had been promised the crown by Edward. William was a close friend of Edward the Confessor as he had protected Edward as a young boy when Harald Hardrada’s ancestors invaded and also sent help when Harold Godwinesson had invaded against Edward. William was also related to Edward through William’s great aunt. but by no means least. Harold Godwinesson. Last. related to the King. The main factor against him was that he was a foreigner. It was also said that William had been promised the crown and it had been recorded.