Hail the Usurper!
Histories and Sagas of the Greater Kingdom of Alba, 950-1090 AD
Histories and Sagas of the Kingdoms 950-1090
Histories of the Kings of Alba
Ancient Kings of Alba
Mac Alpin Dynasty, 800-900 AD
Alpin the Elder reigned 800-842
Kenneth, son of Alpin reigned 842-858
Donald, son of Alpin r.858-862
Constantine, son of Alpin r.866-877
Aed, nephew of Alpin r.877-878
Giric, son of Dungal r.878-889
Donald II, son of Constantine, known as Donald the Madman r.889-900
Ancient Kings of Alba,
Age of Legends, 943-1005 AD
Constantine II, son of King Aed r.900-943. The second son of King Aed, Constantine usurped the crown of Alba from King Donald II in the year 900, slaying him at the ancient fort of Denoon Law near Glamis. He was a participant in the great Battle of Brunanburh in the year 937, allied with the Viking Kings of Dublin, the Norse Jarls, and King of Strathclyde against the Saxon kings of England. In the battle his son Còmhall was killed and the king wounded by a Saxon sword in the melee. King Constantine’s reign ended all Pict influence in Alba bringing Hiberno and Gaelic influence into the fold in Northern Britannia. Died without an heir on his throne of a bad heart in the middle of a great feast in the year 943 AD. It was said the feast was attended by so many and was so loud that his death went unnoticed for hours. Buried on Iona in the Tomb of Kings next to his fathers’ great mausoleum.
Malcolm, son of King Donald II r.943-954. Son of Donald II who was known to history as Donald the Madman. Malcolm MacDonald was born in the year 920. When he was three & ten Malcolm killed his youngest brother, the ten year old Finlay MacDonald. He fought at the Battle of Brunanburh in the year 937 where he slain many foes. As a cousin of King Constantine II he succeeded him after his death in the year 943 when most of the great Mormaers of Alba elected him. King Malcolm I made war with the Kingdom of Moray throughout his reign notably slaying the great warrior Cellach in 949. Ruled as king until he was slain at Mearns in 954 AD by the Mormaer of Angus and Mearns, Cosgrach the Wolfslayer. Buried in the Tomb of Kings on Iona next to his father and grandfather King Constantine I in the mac Alpin mausoleum.
Cosgrach the Wolfslayer in single combat with King Malcolm I at Mearns keep in 954
Indulf, son of King Constantine II r.954-961. Indulf was the son of Constantine II. King of Strathclyde by his birthright from the year 949 until his death. As a ten year old boy he pledged fealty to his cousin King Malcolm I in the year 953. His mother, a Danish Viking shield maiden in her youth, instilled in the boy a strong sense or Norse history and blood. As a consequence the young boy would became a man sailing and pillaging throughout the seas of the North participating in the summer raids during his lifetime in the years 935-937 and 940-942 AD. Indulf traveled the Volga trade route to the land of the Muslims just four years before he became king. King Indulf would court Norse allegiance throughout his reign as King of Alba. He raided the Orkney Isles in the year 956 bringing back many plundered riches from the raids. Killed by Orkneymen in the year 961 near Elgin. His head taken by an minor chieftain named Oddløg back to the Faroe islands as a trophy of war. His remains were buried on Iona in the Tomb of Kings next to his father and grandfather, King Aed.
Dubh, son of King Malcolm I r.961-969. Born in the year 946 he was known as Dubh or Duff MacMalcolm as a boy. Named the Thane of Atholl in the year 960. As King of Alba he was known for his great merriment. Dubh was always generous and loyal to his thanes and even to his lowlier subjects. Known in our age as King Duff he was the eldest son of Malcolm I and as such was a third cousin of King Indulf. His younger brothers included Kenneth He became King of Alba when Indulf was killed by Orkneymen in 961, perishing without an heir. His reign over Alba saw peace and plentiful harvests for all. Killed by Brandubh the youngest son of Culen the White in a dispute over land near Angus and Mearns his body was hidden under a bridge for nearly a week to conceal the crime. Buried in Malcolm’s tomb on Iona with his sons who did not survive infancy next to his father King Malcolm I and his grandfather.
Culen, son of King Indulf, r.969-971. Known to history also as Cailean (Culen) the White. Culen became King of Alba after the death of King Dubh who was slain by his youngest son Brandubh MacCailean after the King ruled against him in a dispute with the Thane of Angus. Though almost sixty-five years of age upon his coronation at Scone, Culen was nearly deaf but still a shrewd leader and confident warrior. He had five sons and six daughters, including many bastard children from his time in the Western Isles. Killed by his cousin Kenneth Longspear at the Battle of Inverlochy in 971 when Kenneth threw his spear the distance of the battlefield impaling King Culen. He was buried on Iona next to his father King Indulf and his grandfather King Constantine II.
Kenneth II, son of King King Malcolm r.971-995. Born in 947, Kenneth MacMalcolm was a son of King Malcolm I and younger brother to King Dubh. Kenneth was a thane and battle hero across the Irish Sea and in Northumbria in his youth, fighting in countless battles, skirmishes, and test of arms in his lifetime. He had killed many men before he had yet to become a man himself whilst fighting Norsemen in Ireland. Kenneth was known as Kenneth Longspear because he fought using a greatspear which was the size of two men. He had many daughters but only one son, Prince Dubhagan. Kenneth was fair haired & tall, strong, fleet of foot, and able in many disciplines of warfare, particularly renowned for his fighting skill with a spear. He was a skilled hunter of deer and could ride a horse like no man in any of the kingdoms. Prince Kenneth killed King Culen in 971 at the Battle of Inverlochy, as legend was handed down from the monks of Alba, Kenneth threw his greatspear the length of the battlefield, over two kilometers, impaling King Culen in the chest and thus slaying him. He was crowned at Scone after his great victory at Inverlochy. Defeated a rebellion led by his younger brother Kenneth the Brown in the year 973. He raided Northumbria three times during his reign in the years 974, 976, and in 981-982. King Kenneth put Strathclyde to the torch in 990 after a bitter rebellion and killed many of highest and simplest birth. He was killed along with his all of his household and his two nephews in an ambush on the River Spey by the men of Constantine mac Culen. Buried in the Tomb of Kings on Iona next to his father King Indulf and his brother King Dubh in the Aed mausoleum.
Constantine III, son of King Culen, r. 995-997. Born in the year 944, Constantine was the second oldest son of Culen the White. He fought at the Battle of Inverlochy in 971 where he was beside his father as he died with Kenneth’s greatspear in his chest. Known as Constantine the Bald because he lost his hair early in life. He won the crown of Alba by ambushing and slaughtering King Kenneth’s household and the King himself in 995 somewhere south of Scone. Constantine killed the eldest son of King Kenneth II, Dubhagan, in the Battle of Ulapul in the same year. A weak and ineffective king he battled open rebellion in Angus and Mearns throughout during his reign. King Constantine was often ridiculed for his sloth, obesity, and for his bald head. He spent most of his reign in Scone. He was a devout Christian and commissioned many monuments to built in Jesus’ name. Slain in the Battle of Rathinveramon by Kenneth MacDubh the brother of King Kenneth II in 997 after reigning for just two winters. Buried next to his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather in the Aed mausoleum.
Kenneth III, son of King Malcolm r. 997-1005. Born in the year 956. Kenneth was known in his lifetime as Coinneach mac Dhuibh and to history as Kenneth the Brown. Second youngest son of King Malcolm and the younger brother of both King Dubh and King Kenneth II, who’s rule he revolted against in the year 973. He was defeated quickly he was exiled to Ireland. Known for his imposing height and skill with a greatsword, Kenneth stood well over twenty hands tall and was as strong as ten men. He won the crown in the Battle of Rathinveramon in the year 997 when he killed King Constantine the Bald and his oldest son Teàrlach in battle. When he was wounded by Norsemen in a raid on Dunfermline in the year 1000 he raised his son Giric to joint-kingship over Alba as King Giric II. King Kenneth and his son died by the sword of Malcolm the Aggressor at the end to the Battle of Monzievaird which is known also as the Battle of the Moor of Bards in the year 1005 AD. Buried on Iona with his son King Giric II, his brother, and his father King Dubh in Malcolm’s mausoleum.
Giric II r.1000-1005. Born in the year 976, Giric was the only son and child of King Kenneth III. Giric was named King Giric II in the year 1000 when his father King Kenneth was wounded in battle against the Norsemen. He was elevated to rule over Alba’s defenses, its coin, and its fleet as King of Alba in a ceremony at Scone in the same year. King Giric would rule alongside his father until 1005 when he was slain by Malcolm the Aggressor on the Moor of Bards. King Giric had a bastard son named Eacharn who was born in 1006 AD. Giric was buried on Iona next to his father and grandfather King Dubh in Malcolm’s mausoleum.
Wars of the Greater Kingdoms of Alba, 937-1057
Battle of Brunanburh, 937
Aethelstan, king, Thane of earls,
ring-bestower to men, baron of barons, and his brother also,
the atheling Edmund, lifelong honour
struck in battle with sword’s edge
at Brunanburh. Broke the shieldwall,
split shields with swords.
Edward’s sons, the issue of princes
from kingly kin, oft on campaign
their fatherland from foes defended,
hoard and home. Crushed the hated ones,
Scots-folk and ship-men
The field flowed with blood,
I have heard said, from sun-rise
in morningtime, as mighty star
glided up overground, God’s bright candle,
- the eternal Lord’s – till that noble work
sank to its setting.
There lay scores of men
destroyed by darts, Danish warrior
shot over shield. So the Scots also
wearied of war. West-Saxons went forth
from morn till night the mounted warriors
pursued enemy people,
the fleeing forces were felled from behind
with swords new-sharpened.
The Northumbrians spurned not
hard hand-play with heroes
that accompanied Anlaf over sea’s surge,
in ship’s shelter sought land,
came fated to fight. Five lay dead
on the killing field, young kings
put to sleep with the sword; so also seven
of Anlaf’s earls, and unnumbered slain
among sea-men and Scots. So was routed
the Northmen’s lord, by need forced
to take ship with few troops.
compelled to sea, the king set out
on fallow flood, saved his life.
So also the wise one fled away
to his northern country, Constantine,
hoary battle-man; he need not boast
of that meeting of swords.
He was severed from kin,
forfeiting friends on that field,
slain at war, and his son left
on the death-ground, destroyed by his wounds,
young warrior. He need not brag,
the white-haired warrior, about sword-wielding,
the artful one, nor Anlaf either;
With their army smashed they need not sneer
that their battle-work was better
on the battlefield where banners crashed
and spears clashed in that meeting of men,
that weapon-wrestle, when on the death-field
they played with Edward’s offspring.
The Northmen went off in nail-bound ships,
sad survivors of spears, on Ding’s mere,
over deep water seeking Dublin,
Ireland again, ashamed in their hearts.
So both brothers together,
king and atheling, their country sought,
the land of Wessex, in war exulting.
They left behind them sharing the lifeless
the dusk-dressed one, the dark raven,
with hard beak of horn, and the hoar-coated one,
white-tailed eagle, enjoying the carrion,
greedy war-hawk, and that grey beast,
the wolf of the wood. Nor was more slaughter
on this isle ever yet,
so many folk felled, before this
sword battle, as say the books,
the old wise men, since from the east
Angle and Saxon arrived together
over broad briny seeking Britain,
proud warriors who worsted the Welsh,
eager for glory, and gained a land.
Battle of Monzievaird,
Death of Two Kings on the Moor of Bards, 1005 AD
Upon the termination of his exile in Ireland, the young chief, Prince Malcolm the Aggressor, the son of the dethroned King of Alba, Kenneth II, made brutal warfare on the Kingdom of Alba. Many a village, hold, and keep were burned, their inhabitants put to the sword or executed by the axe. Death was dealt on a massive scale, most certainly thousands killed in the campaign to break King Kenneth III, son of King Duff, and King Girics II’s joint control over the realm as father and son.
Malcolm thus became known as Malcolm the Destroyer, his war, a war of vengeance & malice against the Kings of Alba, Kenneth III and his son Giric II. Malcolm’s army consisted of Western islanders, Irish mercenaries, and southern Men of Alba, clansmen long loyal to his dead father. These men formed the rebel host of the Aggressor, some three thousand strong. Kenneth and his son Giric commanded the Kingdoms armies, six thousand spears strong, gravely diminished due to the long running war in the north with the Orkneymen and the conflict with the Danish reavers off the coast of the Moray Firth in years previous.
The two hosts met nearer to gateway of the Kingdom of Alba, in Monzievaird, where battle was offered and a fierce melee ensued for the entire day on the Moor of Bards. At least a thousand of Malcolm the Destroyer’s men were killed; however they inflicted horrendous losses on the armies of the Two Kings, slaying over three thousand before Malcolm met Giric in single combat near a torched baggage caravan.
Stained with blood and wounded slightly, having lost three fingers and most of his off hand, Giric, sword in his other hand, asked Malcolm by what law of the Kingdoms or ancient right did he claim the crown, to which Malcolm replied “By the laws of blood, by the laws of vengeance…your father killed mine and so I will slay you and yours, taking your lord-fathers head, and crown on this day, with a swing from this sword!” In the ensuing melee Malcolm cut down King Giric, fighting having all but ceased in the battle, King Kenneth met Malcolm as the champion of Alba in single combat as dusk set in.
Before the clash of arms, the wise King Kenneth, planting his banner in the earth, pardoned the Aggressor, forgiving him in the sight of the Gods and the thanes who had fought and died on the Field of Bards that day. The duel that followed lasted close to an hour; with both combatants receiving no less than five wounds each. At the conclusion to the fight, Malcolm bested King Kenneth mortally wounding him and then removing his head.
Looking across the stunned field of survivors, holding the dead kings head by his matted hair, Malcolm the Aggressor shouted “Behold! Look thy brave thanes! Behold and gaze in despair at the head of the usurper!” The survivors of both armies cheered, the rebel victors hosting and feasting with their enemies late into the evening despite the battle which had been fought earlier that day. Malcolm was shortly thereafter crowned Malcolm II, King of Alba. Known in the Age of Legends as the Battle of the Field of Bards, it is most remembered today for ending the supremacy of the mac Alpin dynasty over the Kingdom of Alba, which had begun with King Kenneth I, in 842 AD.
Great Sagas of the Northumbrian Jarls
Saga of Uhtred the Bold, Jarl of Northumbria, 1006-1016
Uhtred the Bold in combat against his Saxon rivals
Uhtred, son of the reaver and warrior Waltheof, son of Osulf, became Jarl of Northumbria upon his lord fathers’ death in 1006. Uhtred was brave thegn and proud Jarl of Northumbria and Cumbria, then known as Mercia to the Saxon and Danish Kings of England.
A giant of a man as only a young boy of fourteen, Uhtred earned his sobriquet at the same age when he killed some Dublin Viking raiders besieging his fathers lands, hacking them to pieces with his war axe on the beaches of Northumbria. Upon killing some of these most heinous raiders the boy then met the raiding parties’ leader, Olaf Silkbeard in single melee, cleaving the Viking chieftains head in half, cracking his Great-Helm before his axe became stuck deep in the chieftains’ skull.
Uhtred the Bold was a great thane in service to his lord father on the border with the Scottish kingdoms. This most noble thane concerned his life fighting the dreadful Scots, and the even more terrifying Norsemen. He had by the time of his untimely death killed or routed hundreds of sea-born raiders of Norway-personally taking the heads of six Scaldingi jarls of Zeeland in the raids of 1014-1015.
In the lands of his birth, in Northumbria and the Humber, his families ancestral seat, Uhtred is remembered into the reign of Richard I, King of England, as a great Northern lord. A guardian of the northern border, loyal to his Saxon and Danish kin to south. Uthred was a most chivalrous warrior, an honorable thegn-cunning in warfare, gracious and forgiving in defeat, fearless in the face of his relentless enemies from the northern highlands, damp marshes, and cold windswept mounds of Alba. Even the feared Scotsmen from the North feared the Jarl. His once loyal jarls attempted to usurp power from him in the year 1009, only to be beaten and either banished or judged by the gods in single combat.
Uhtred the Bold met a most tragic end in the year 1016 when he was murdered by the Northumbrian thane Thurbrand on the orders of King Canute. Stabbed in the back whilst on a hunting trip for fear of his immense power and influence amongst the peoples of the North. Uhthred was succeeded by his younger brother, Eadwulf.
Saga of Eadwulf Cudel,
‘The Cuttlefish’, Jarl of Northumbria, 1016-1019
Eadwulf son of Waltheof, brother of Uhtred the Bold, who upon the most treacherous death of the great hero Uhtred, succeeded his brother as Jarl of Northumbria in the year 1016.
Jarl Eadwulf unlike his brother, would fail to challenge the plunderers and border raiders coming down from the hills and highlands of Alba throughout his reign-shunning overtures from his strong Saxon allies to make war with King Malcolm II and the heir-less King of Strathclyde, Owain the Bald. Unwilling to stop the raiders, he allowed their outrages until his duty as Jarl of Northumbria forced him to action in 1018.
In the summer of 1018 AD a great army descended on Northumbria led by King Malcolm II, known as the Destroyer for his blood thirstiness and willingness to plunder and pillage, and his ally King Owain the Bald. This massive host raised Saxon villages and keeps for miles of the southron border. Unable to avoid neutrality any longer, Eadwulf raised a host to meet the northern host, this massive and altogether terrifying army of Alba and Srathclyde.
Battle was joined, in fire, bloodshed, and in a clash of sword, spear, & axe on the River Tweed, outside Carham in Northumbria. Over 20,000 men fought in and around the river which both sides called the Coldstream. No less than 10,000 perished, the Northumbrian army of Jarl Eadwulf broken by the ferocious and unrelenting assaults of King Malcolm the Destroyer’s warriors. Many fell under the sword of the King himself, who killed with his hands after both his sword and spear were broken. Eadwulf did fight bravely in the melee, slaying a foe and noted thane of Alba, who’s men broke and were slaughtered following his death. The Northumbrians fought valiantly but could not match the ferocity of the Scots.
The battle all but lost and his forces broken in a bloody rout, Jarl Eadwulf fled the field via the Coldstream, swimming below the waterline to escape King Malcolm’s warriors, who slaughtered without mercy that day-offering no quarter to those who knelt. It was said that he spent so much time underwater with the cuttlefish below, that he had become their brethren thereafter, and thus Eadwulf earned his cognomen. He would live the rest of his life within the safety of Carham keep before dieing of fever in 1019 AD. Eadwulf is not remembered as a good Jarl.
Thorfinn the Mighty attacks Northumbria in 1040
Authored by Arnor, skald of Thorfinn the Mighty, Jarl of Orkney and the Shetland Islands
Upon Northumbrian shores, the Jarl bore his banner
Ever and Again, Reddening the Black Boars tongue
The Prince bade them carry his Standard steadfastly
Flames flared, roofs fell, and smoke curled to the Heavens
To the sky rose the fiery gloom, while the thanes pursued.
Many horn blast, was heard mid the fortresses
Where high wind waved the banner of the Stout Prince
He of the slain father, rushed into battle, now fear fell
As if snow upon the Boar Lords host. In the Battle at Dawn,
Swords were washed in blood, and wolves torn the slain.
Jarls of Orkney and the Shetland Islands, 965-1091 AD
Thorfinn Skullsplitter r.965-979, Son of Torf, a feared and respected Thrall of many sea-born raids and battles against Alban and Moravian thegns. It was said that he killed nearly one thousand men in his lifetime and that the plunder he took in summer raids could have overfilled every chest and treasury in the kingdoms. Thorfinn had five sons, Arnfinn, Ljot, Hlodvir, Erik, and Skula as well as five daughters.
Arnfinn r.979-982 Eldest son of Thorfinn Skullsplitter who was known for his courage and prowess with battle axes. Called Arnfinn Steelaxe by the men of his fleet which had as many as twenty ships, rivaling that of his fathers when he was Jarl of Orkney. Led a raid to the Faroe islands from which only he returned in the year 972. Made Jarl after his father died in 979, marrying King Kenneth II of Alba’s eldest daughter, ruling until he was slain in a battle at sea against his brother Ljot in 982 AD.
Ljot r.982-985 Son of Thorfinn Skullsplitter. Ljot Killed his brother Arnfinn in a battle at sea which claimed the lives of both of Ljot’s grown sons. Ljot eventually lost his crown to his brother Hlodvir the third son of Thorfinn Skullsplitter, who exiled him to the Faroe Islands. Ljot died living the life of a simple fisher in the year 1000 AD.
Hlodvir r.985-988 Son of Thorfinn Skullsplitter, Hlodvir had fought on his brother Ljot’s side when he usurped and killed their eldest brother Arnfinn in 982. Hlodvir usurped power from his brother Ljot who was childless in the year 985 AD, banishing him to the Faroe Islands on pain of death should he return. His second son Sigurd inherited the Jarldom upon Hlodvir’s death in the winter of 988.
Sigurd the Stout r.988-1014. Son of Hlodvir a great thane and battle hero of his age, Sigurd was known for his many successful raids and for his distinctive raven banner. He sailed in many great Viking cruises during his lifetime raiding the Hebrides Isles, Alba, and Ireland every summer until his death in Ireland in 1014. Sigurd was the father of Thorfinn the Mighty, most famous for fighting in the bloody battle at Wick, Caithness. Challenged to battle by Finlay of Moray, a famed warrior from Alba in the year 999 AD, Sigurd consulted his mother a known soothsayer & sorceress on the outcome of the battle. She predicted he would lose the battle and his life, unless he carry the mark of death with him. In the ensuing battle at Wick his armies marched under the sigil of the raven, black on white, winning the battle despite three standard bearers being slain whilst carrying the raven banner. Becoming Jarl in 988, Sigurd would loose his life at the Battle of Clontarf killed by Irish warriors loyal to the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, who defeated the Dublin Vikings and their Norse kinsmen outside Clontarf, Ireland in 1014. Sigurd the Stout was slain at the height of the battle defending the fallen raven banner when his forces were all but slaughtered, dieing of many wounds, even managing to kill a man even after he had lost an arm.
The Raven standard of Sigurd the Stout
Einar Wry Mouth r.1014-1020. Eldest son of Thorfinn Skullsplitter who was known as Wry Mouth because he was a tough man, known to be uncompromising. He was a stout fighter like his father. Made war with his two eldest brothers, Brusi and Rögnvald beginning in 1014 after their fathers day in the Battle of Clontarf. A lover of poetry and stories who retained hundreds of various courtly skalds and musicians during his reign as Jarl of Orkney, he wrote several family and personal poems which survive today.
Thorfinn the Mighty r.1020-1065. Youngest son of Sigurd the Stout, Jarl of Orkney, 988-1014. Born in the year 1013 AD before his fathers’ death in the Battle of Clontarf in the year 1014. Thorfinn was fostered by Thorkell, a respected warrior and raider for most of his life. Thorfinn began sailing and pillaging throughout Alba and Ireland in at the age of twelve. In the year 1030 he slew Sigfus Skaldbane on the deck of his greatship Loki. Thorfinn invaded Alba, Strathclyde, and western regions of Northumbria in 1037. Defeated at the Battle of the Longships in 1038, destroying King Duncan I’s royal fleet at Deerness in 1040. Captured Strathclyde and annexed several coastal settlements in Northumbria in the year 1041, withdrawing in that same year after Jarl Siward marched on his raiders with full strength. Became an ally of Macbeth, King of Alba, Moray, and Strathclyde, allowing for peace between the Orkneymen and the Men of Alba from 1040 to 1059. A convert to Christianity in the year 1050, Thorfinn the Mighty died whilst sailing to the Faroe Islands in 1065. Both his sons Erlend and Paul would hold the title of Jarl of Orkney after his death.
1065-1067, Title vacant
Einar r.1067-1078. Distant cousin of Thorfinn the Mighty who claimed to be a descendant of Thorfinn Skullsplitter as well. Invaded and occupied parts of Strathclyde in 1072, before he was defeated by King Malcolm III of Alba at the Battle of Lannraig. Killed in 1078 in Western Iceland. After spending a summer exploring the island whilst on a visit to the Danish colony of Iceland, Einar met a native thane named Thorgrief the Short, who slain him in a test of arms.
Erlend r.1078-1090. A son of Thorfinn The Mighty. As Jarl he sent an expedition to the Faroe Islands in 1081 to quell rebellious scaldingi raiders upset with the previous summers raids. A respected raider and Jarl who presided over some of the most fruitful years of pillaging since the reign of Sigurd the Stout. Jarl Erlend was defeated and captured after a raid on Nairn in the Kingdom of Moray in the year 1090 shortly executed by King Macbeth MacFinlay shortly after. His head was taken by King Macbeth II’s hand and his body burnt.
Paul r.1090-1091. Youngest son of Thorfinn The Mighty who was named after Paul the Apostle upon his father’s conversion to Christianity in 1050. Sent longships against Sweyn Skömolurk Jarl of Österland in 1089. Alienated many of his loyal thanes in his later reign with his devout Christian beliefs and practices. This included the brandishing of Christian icons and relics in his great hall. Died of fever in 1091 at Thurso.
The Life of King Harold Godwinson, the last Saxon King of England
Harold of Wessex was the eldest son of Godwin the Earl of Essex. He was born in 1020 to Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, the eldest daughter of Thorkell, foster-father to Thorfinn the Mighty. He had numerous siblings including Edith of Wessex, wife to King Edward the Confessor, Sweyn the Earl of Mercia, Tostig the Earl of Northumbria, Gyrth Godwinson, Leofwine Godwinson the Earl of Kent, Wulfnoth the youngest, a monk living in Alfgar. In the year 1044 Harald became the Earl of East Anglia, fighting numerous battles with King Magnus the Good of Norway from 1045-1046 AD. In 1050, King Edward the Confessor betrothed him to William the Bastard’s eldest daughter, Adeliza. Harold became the Earl of Wessex upon his father’s death in the year 1053. He was named the Earl of Hereford in 1058. For many years Edith Swanneck known also as Edith the Fair was his common-law wife, giving him numerous heirs including Godwin, Edmund, Magnus, Gunhild, Gytha, Harold, and Ulf.
Earl Harold led the armies of his brother-in-law King Edward into the Welsh kingdom where he eventually defeated and killed King Gruffydd ap Llywelyn in 1063 at the Battle of Cadair Berwyn. A year later he nearly lost his life when his ship sunk off the coast of Normandy. He eventually washed ashore near Picardy surviving on shellfish and onions found on the side of the road before he was able to sail on a ship back to England. In 1065 he led an army of 5,000 housecarls into Northumbria where he eventually dethroned and exiled his brother Jarl Tostig. Tostig became his mortal enemy thereafter, first fleeing to Norway where he gathered ships and men to raid England in the spring of 1066, aided by the King of Norway, Harold Hardrada. Tostig was eventually defeated by Morcar the Earl of Northumbria and Edwin the Earl of Mercia and forced to flee to Alba under the protection of King Malcolm III.
He married Princess Ealdgyth of Mercia, the widow of King Grufydd ap Llywelyn, who ruled as King of Wales from 1055-1064. This marriage was strongly influenced by King Edward of England to quell the rebellious tribes of Wales. Harold’s true love was Edith the Fair, his common-law wife who bore him five sons who would all survive him. Princess Ealdgyth would give him two duaghters, the beautiful maids Gunhild and Gytha.
Harold succeeded King Edward I as King of England upon the latter’s death in the winter of 1066. The Norman monk Orderic Vitalis wrote that he was a man of honor, who was “very tall and handsome, remarkable for his physical strength, his courage and eloquence, his ready jests and acts of valour.”
King Harold became the last Saxon King of England. He ruled for a moons turn past a year in 1066. As king he attempted to drive the invasion of the Normans into the sea in that very same year but was killed by an arrow to the face whilst in combat against the Norman invaders of William the Bastard at the Battle of Hastings, known also as the Battle of Senlac Hill in 1066 AD. Edith the Fair fled the battle after having seen King Harold’s horribly mutilated bodies with his two infant sons, Princes Harold and Ulf.