Norman claim to the throne of England

  • Kingdoms around the North Sea
  • Lineage
  • Normandy lay a mere one hundred miles across the Channel from England. After Aethelred's family were cast into exile by the invading Danes under Sweyn Forkbeard, they had found a welcome at the Norman court, from where Aethelred's wife Emma had come. Thus, King Edward had grown up in Normandy and no doubt showed some favoritism to Duke William and the Normans. William's only connection to the royal family of England, however, was that his great-aunt Emma had been the wife of two English kings and the mother of two more.

    There was a rumor that Edward had named William as his successor in 1051; but in his last years King Edward never verified that story. Would Duke William really have been promised the succession in 1051? If so, why did Edward not expect to sire any male children before he died fifteen years later? Godiva and the Golden Dragon presents King Edward as most of the histories do, as a pious, god-fearing man who most likely kept himself chaste.

    In 1064, Harold ended up under the control of William in Normandy. At that time, did Harold really swear to support Duke William's claim to the English throne as the Normans believed? It is possible that Harold did offer some support for William, but it was not up to him to pick the next king of England. Why Harold was on a boat in the Channel, we do not know; but he did meet with the hazardous channel seas and ended up on the shores of Ponthieu, a land that recognized Norman overlordship. In Godiva and the Golden Dragon, Harold is wanting to catch up with the Lady Godiva as she flees to Brittany when the winds cast him into William's hands.

    What was the motivation behind William of Normandy? His planned invasion of England, taking a mounted army in boats across the open sea, was far too risky a venture for mere greed or revenge. What gave him the idea that he could be successful, when most of his advisors probably wanted to tell him he was crazy? It seems possible that William could only have proceeded with his outlandish invasion plan if he had some reason to believe that it had to be successful, perhaps because it was ordained by God. Certainly, it was easy then for William to interpret things like the appearance of Halley's comet as signs from God pointing him on his path.