Cousin Lois has done it again. Her comments always set me thinking. She recommended a book, “1066: The Hidden History In the Bayeux Tapestry,” by Andrew Bridgeford. I haven’t seen the book yet, but I launched into the subject on Wikipedia and other Internet sources about the so-called Norman Conquest of England, by William the Conqueror in 1066. A bloody year in a bloody century, to be sure, and one of the most studied periods in medieval history. William*, you may recall, is my 28th great-grandfather, genes courtesy of my mother. Just to refresh your memory, in October of that year, William’s forces defeated and killed the last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold Godwinson, in the Battle of Hastings. Note that even though he was Anglo-Saxon, the king is known by a Scandinavian-style surname; indeed, his mother was a Danish princess. Of course, the Normans themselves were descended from Danish Viking settlers in Normandy, but that is another story.
Well here is a tidbit I got for my efforts: A different battle, a month before the fateful Battle of Hastings, brought by a third claimant to the English throne, himself another ancestor of mine! I speak of Harald III “Hardrada,” king of Norway. Harald of Norway had invaded England, in collusion with Godwinson’s estranged brother, Tostig. Harald’s claim to the English throne was weak, but so were those of the other two pretenders. The invasion, however, ended in a debacle that for many historians marks the end of the entire Viking era. In September 1066, Harald was in his turn defeated and killed, along with Tostig Godwinson, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, by the forces of Harold Godwinson. (In fact, control of much of England had swung between Anglo-Saxon and Viking for over two centuries.) Although they had crushed the Norse invaders, it could be argued that Godwinson’s army was weakened by its battle with the Vikings, and less fit to battle the Normans.
I just mention this because Harald Hardrada is another 28th great-grandfather, thanks to my father’s (Lovell’s) mother, Anna Moen.
Oh, and by the way, Harald III Hardrada is also a half-brother of Olaf II, famed in Norsk circles as Saint Olaf, patron saint of Norway.
Oh, and also, Saint Olaf is my 29th great-grandfather, due to a marriage several generations later between descendants of Harald and Olaf.
I guess this helps balance with my “other” ancestors: the peasants and the potato-thief.
*Note that each link above is unique; that is, if there are two links on a particular subject, such as “Anglo-Saxon,” they lead to two different articles.
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Jan 24, 2010
Cousin Lois asked me to clarify that it was her son, cousin Steven Hall, who recommended the Andrew Bridgeford book. And let me add my own thanks to Steven for his keen eye on history and our family.
Jan 25, 2010
I am such a non-sports fan, I did not realize that the day after I posted this, the Vikings were playing the Saints in an NFL playoff final.
Jan 26, 2010
OMG! I just found Tostig Godwinson in my database, part of the connection (one of them at least) between Anna Moen and Judith Martel and Charlemagne. Once again, a descendant of Harald married one of Tositig’s about a dozen generations later. Both of those lines were developed by Orrin Moen, who sent me the data several years ago. So, of the four principals in the Norman Conquest and the preceding Viking invasion, not two, but *three* of them are 28th or 29th great-grandfathers!