A.D. 1063. When Christmas was over, Harold, the brave earl of Wessex, by king Edward’s order, put himself at the head of a small troop of horse, and proceeded by rapid marches from Gloucester, where the king then was, to Rhuddlan, [Flintshire] with the determination to punish Griffyth, king of Wales, for his continual ravages on the English marshes, and his many insults to his lord, king Edward, by taking his life. But Griffyth, being forewarned of the earl’s approach, fled with his attendants, and escaped by getting aboard a ship, but not without extreme difficulty. Harold, finding he was gone, ordered his palace to be burnt, and setting fire to his ships and all their rigging, began his march homeward the same day. But about Rogation days [20 May] he sailed from Bristol with a naval force, and circumnavigated a great part of Wales. His brother met him, by the king’s command, with a body of cavalry, and uniting their forces, they began to lay waste that part of the country. In consequence, the Welsh were reduced to submission, and, giving hostages, engaged to pay him tribute, and they deposed and banished their king, Griffyth.
A.D. 1066. King Edward the Pacific, the pride of the English, son of king. Ethelred, died at London on Thursday, the eve of the Epiphany, in the fourth indiction; after having filled the royal throne of the Anglo-Saxons twenty-three years, six months, and twenty-seven days. He was buried the next day with royal pomp, amidst the tears and lamentations of the crowds who flocked to his funeral. After his interment, Harold, the vice-king, son of earl Godwin, whom the king before his death had chosen for his successor, was elected king by the leading men of all England; and, the same day, was crowned with great ceremony by Aldred, archbishop of York. As soon as he had taken the reins of government, he made it his business to revoke unjust laws, and establish good ones; to become the protector of the churches and monasteries; to cherish and reverence the bishops, abbots, monks, and clerks; and to show himself kind, humble, and courteous to all good men, while to malefactors he used the utmost rigour. For he gave orders to his earls, ealdormen, vice-reeves, and all his officers, to arrest all thieves, robbers, and disturbers of the peace; and he laboured himself for the defence of the country by land and by sea.
The same year a comet was seen on the eighth of the calends of May [24th April], not only in England, but, as it is reported, all over the world: it shone with excessive brilliance for seven days. Soon afterwards earl Tosti returned from Flanders, and landed in the Isle of Wight; and, having compelled the islanders to give him pay and tribute, he departed, and plundered along the sea-coast, until he arrived at Sandwich. King Harold, who was then at London, having been informed of this, ordered a considerable fleet and a body of horse to be got ready, and prepared to go in person to the port of Sandwich. On receiving this intelligence, Tosti took some of the boatmen of the place, willing or unwilling, into his service, and, departing thence, shaped his course for Lindsey, where he burnt several vills and slew a number of men. Thereupon Edwin, earl of Mercia, and Morcar, earl of Northumbria, flew to the spot with some troops, and drove him out of that neighbourhood; and, on his departure, he repaired to Malcolm, king of the Scots, and remained with him during the whole summer. Meanwhile king Harold arrived at the port of Sandwich, and waited there for his fleet. When it was assembled, he sailed to the Isle of Wight; and as William, earl of Normandy, king Edward’s cousin, was preparing an army for the invasion of England, he kept watch all the summer and autumn, to prevent his landing; besides which, he stationed a land army at suitable points along the sea-coast; but provisions failing towards the time of the feast of the Nativity of St. Mary [8th September], both the fleet and army were disbanded.
After these transactions, Harold Harfaager, king of Norway, brother of St. Olave the king, suddenly arrived at the mouth of the river Tyne, with a powerful fleet of more than five hundred great ships. Earl Tosti joined him with his fleet, as they had before agreed, and they made all sail into the Humber; and then ascending the river Tyne against the current, landed their troops at a place called Richale. As soon as king Harold received this news, he marched with all expedition towards Northumbria; but, before the king’s arrival, the two brothers, earls Edwin and Morcar, at the head of a large army, fought a battle with the Norwegians on the northern bank of the river Ouse, near York, on the eve of the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle [20th September], being Wednesday; and their first onset was so furious that numbers of the enemy fell before it. But, after a long struggle, the English, unable to withstand the attack of the Norwegians, fled with great loss, and many more of them were drowned in the river than slain in the fight. The Norwegians remained in possession of the field of death; and, having taken one hundred and fifty hostages from York, and leaving there one hundred and fifty hostages of their own, returned to their ships. However, on the fifth day afterwards, viz. on Monday, the seventh of the calends of October [25th September], Harold, king of England, having reached York, with many thousand well-armed troops, encountered the Norwegians at a place called Stanford-bridge, and put to the sword king Harold and earl Tosti, with the greatest part of their army; and, although the battle was severely contested, gained a complete victory. Notwithstanding, he allowed Harold’s son Olaf, and Paul, earl of Orkney, who had been left with part of the army to guard the ships, to return to their own country, with twenty ships and the relics of the [defeated] army; having first received from them hostages and their oaths.
While these events were passing, and when the king might have supposed that all his enemies were quelled, he received intelligence of the arrival of William, earl of Normandy, with an innumerable host of horsemen, slingers, archers, and foot soldiers, having taken into his pay auxiliary forces of great bravery from all parts of France; and that he had moored his fleet at a place called Pevensey. Thereupon the king led his army towards London by forced marches; and, although he was very sensible that some of the bravest men in England had fallen in the two [recent] battles, and that one half of his troops was not yet assembled, he did not hesitate to meet the enemy in Sussex, without loss of time; and on Saturday, the eleventh of the calends of November [22nd October], before a third of his army was in fighting order, he gave them battle at a place nine miles from Hastings, where they had built a fort. The English being crowded in a confused position, many of them left their ranks, and few stood by him with resolute hearts: nevertheless he made a stout resistance from the third hour of the day until nightfall, and defended himself with such courage and obstinacy, that the enemy almost despaired of taking his life. When, however, numbers had fallen on both sides, he, alas fell at twilight. There fell, also, his brothers, the earls Gurth and Leofric, and almost all the English nobles. Earl William led his army back to Hastings.
Harold reigned nine months and as many days. The earls Edwin and Morcar, who had withdrawn with their troops from the battle on hearing that he was dead, went to London, and sent off their sister, queen Elgitha, to Chester; but Aldred, archbishop of York, and the earls just mentioned, with the citizens of London and the seamen, were desirous to proclaim Edgar the etheling king, he being nephew of king Edmund Ironside; and promised that they would renew the war under his banner. But while many were preparing to go forth to battle, the earls withdrew their support, and returned home with their army.
Meanwhile, earl William was laying waste Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Middlesex, and Herefordshire, and ceased not from burning vills and slaughtering the inhabitants, until he came to a vill called Beorcham [Berkhamsted], where Aldred, the archbishop, Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester, Walter, bishop of Hereford, Edgar the etheling, the earls Edwin and Morcar, and some Londoners of the better sort, with many others, met him, and, giving hostages, made their submission, and swore fealty to him; but, although he concluded a treaty with them, he still allowed his troops to burn and pillage the vills. The feast of our Lord’s Nativity approaching, he marched the whole army to London that he might be proclaimed king there; and as Stigand, the primate of all England, lay under the censure of the apostolical pope for not having obtained the pall canonically, he was anointed by Aldred, archbishop of York, with great ceremony, at Westminster, on Christmas-day, which that year fell on a Monday; having first, as the archbishop required, sworn before the altar of St. Peter the apostle, in the presence of the clergy and people, to protect the holy churches of God and their governors, and to rule the whole nation subject to him with justice and kingly providence, to make and maintain just laws, and straitly to forbid every sort of rapine and all unrighteous judgements.