The Battle for England

In the AD 1060s, when there were fierce battles between Anglo-Saxons, Norwegians, Danes and Normans for the English throne, the Skuldelev 2-ship sailed from Dublin to Roskilde. After the Battle of Hastings, when Harold Godwinson was killed and William the Conqueror took the English throne, both Godwinsson's sons in Dublin and their father's cousin, the Danish King Svein Estridsson in Roskilde, wanted to threaten William's power. The historian Saxo relates that Godwinsson's children visited Svein in Denmark. Skuldelev 2 was possibly part of the escort that brought the family to Roskilde.

In reality the Empire fell when Edward the Confessor lay close to death in AD 1065.
The Anglo-Saxon nobleman, Harold Godwinson, seemed his most likely successor. When Edward died in January AD 1066, Godwinson maintained that the king had promised him the throne on his deathbed and the very next day he had arranged his coronation, approved by Edward's closest advisors.

Godwinsson's coronation was not popular, as both the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada and Duke William of Normandy were also of the opinion that they had been promised the English throne. Even the Danish King Svein Estridsson told the German monk, Adam of Bremen, around AD 1067-68, that he was promised the throne. As a consequence, there were innumerable power struggles in England in subsequent years.

In September 1066 AD Harald Hardrada attacked and took the town of York. But just a few days later there was another battle, this time at Stamford Bridge. Here, Harald's warriors were successful in defeating the Norwegians and killing the Norwegg.

The Battle of Hasting

While Harald fought against the Norwegians, Duke William of Normandy had planned an attack on England. The Bayeux Tapestry describes how William arrived in England in October with almost 8000 men and forced Harold to send his warriors rapidly southwards.

The troops met at Hastings where Harold was killed and along with him a great part of England's aristocracy. The Godwinsson family was so weakened that William was able to initiate his conquest of the whole of England. He took one large town after another and was quickly dubbed William the Conqueror. On Christmas Day AD 1066, only two months after his victory at the Battle of Hastings, William was crowned King William I of England.

The political aftermath

The Godwinsson family was forced to flee to Exeter, which in the subsequent years became the headquarters for the rebellion against William. Exeter fell to William in AD 1068 and three of Harold's sons, Godwin, Edward and Magnus, fled to Dublin where Harold’s old supporter Diarmit mac Máel was king.

That same year, two of Godwinsson's youngest sons set off with an army from Dublin for Bristol in an attempt to raise a rebellion against William. They were not successful. The following year, in AD 1069, they attempted again, leading to battles in Devon and Cornwall in Southwest England.

Saxo recounts in his that two sons and one daughter of Harold Godwinsson had, previous to this, visited the Danish King Svein Estridsson in Roskilde. Svein had arranged that Harold's daughter Gytha should marry Grand Duke Vladimir of Kiev. Perhaps they also arranged at the same time a pincer movement against William the Conqueror?

The same year Svein sent a fleet of 240 long ships against England. On board was Svein's own brother Asbjørn. After numerous attacks along the English coast he succeeded in conquering York. Here, the Danes could find support among the many Scandinavians who already were settled in the area. William, who was now under attacked two fronts, showed cunning and burned large parts of the country areas around York. After a year the Danes were forced to realise that they could not gather enough support to challenge William and, therefore, they returned to Denmark. William the Conqueror remained king until his death in AD 1087.

By: Louise Kæmpe Henriksen