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What were the reasons behind Harold's visit to Normandy and How was the Visit Significant?

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Introduction

What were the reasons behind Harold's visit to Normandy and How was the Visit Significant? Approaching the year 1064 Harold Godwinson had established himself with great power, authority and had great potential to excel as earl of Wessex and possibly achieve what no Godwin had done in history, the Crown and title of King of England. As Walker quotes "Harold was at the height of his power and influence. A successful military commander and the leading noble in England, and with the demise of Earl Aelfgan he had no real rivals... However an episode occurred about this time which was ultimately to land to his downfall." To great controversy between historians Harold went on a voyage and found himself ending up in Normandy. How and why is even today a huge debate and is explained in many forms by Poitier's and Walker etc. The debate is ultimately down to the reason of there not being any Anglo-Saxon recording of this event and therefore we as historians are left to retrieve as much realistic evidence from the Norman sources, as biased as they may seem. Was Harold merely entertaining himself with a little recreational Fishing off the coast of England and just happened to end up in William's quarters... ...read more.

Middle

Douglas quotes William demanded the person of Harold from Count Guy and he perhaps agreed to pay a ransom. All sources quote that Harold was treated as a guest of the highest honour in William's quarters. Another reason, which could possibly counter the reason of Harold visiting Normandy on an order to deliver a message to William, is the suspicion that he was just doing some hunting on Norman grounds. A keen athletic strong man like himself would often participate in some hunting during his recreational time. Possibly this could have been a reason for going to Normandy, as well as delivering the promise or going on a European tour, however for him to travel all that way in treacherous seas, where the probability of shipwrecking was at an incredibly higher percentage than nowadays, then just to entertain himself with some wild boar hunting seems somewhat unlikely. The fact of the matter is he could have hunted absolutely anywhere and any time in England. Why he would want to go to Normandy to do it at the "Height of his power" (Douglas) is unknown to many. Like the fishing trip story the lack of evidence does not make it a huge contender for the real reason why Harold did depart to Normandy. ...read more.

Conclusion

I feel the greatest importance however which had the greatest effect on the history of Britain was the first considerations from Harold that his country needed a true leader, both on the battle front and in the running of the country. It was after this catastrophic journey that he first realised that the Aethling Edgar was still too young and inexperienced to defend his country against the now obvious might of the Norman's'. This may have been the initial step to the eventual succession to the throne in 1066. The reasons as to why the visit to Normandy took place are still unknown however what we do know is that the effects had played a major role in British History. The biased Norman sources lay strong suggestion to the assumption that Harold was carrying out an order from Edward however this does not seem to justify the reality behind the story. I think Harold's oath and closeness to his family brought him to Normandy and his foolishness led him to believe he could learn more off William to help his on claim for greatness. However he underestimated William's determination and you could say he ended up paying for it. What is known is that Harold soon realised there was only one man who could fill the boots of Edward and so he took it upon himself to do so. ...read more.

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