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Harold Godwinson's oath to Duke William

Harold swearing an oath to William

In 1064,  it appears that Harold Godwinson swore an oath to Duke William.  We do not know what Harold promised.

The picture, adapted from the Bayeux Tapestry, shows Harold swearing loyalty on holy relics.  Breaking an oath sworn in this way was seen as breaking an oath with God.

"There can be little doubt that an oath was made.  What its exact content was we shall never know."
J. Bradbury.  The Battle of Hastings (Sutton, 1998) p.69

According to Duke William, Harold promised to support and recognise Duke William's claim to become King.

Harold may not have promised to do this - he may have been tricked!

For Duke William, the oath is very important.  It gave him another reason to invade England in 1066.  According to William, Harold broke his oath, breaking his promise to God.


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Last updated Wednesday, 02 July 2003