by T.E. BELTON
I have always been fascinated by the tragic story of The Norman Conquest since first reading Lord Lyttons book â??Harold the last of the Saxon kings’, published in 1887. This led me to many other books including the extraordinary work of E.A. Freeman. Detailed history of the period is sparse, and full of frustrating gaps.
Writing again on the subject must lead to some informed conjecture. I have therefore presented my book as a novel, and while many of the dates, names, and places are facts, history has left many instances where what is written does not add up, or seem likely. The victor wrote what took place in the telling of the Conquest, but I see much Norman propaganda. Through the eyes of my main character I can tell my story.
He is a school boy Aled Morgan, who is thrown back in time after the visit of an interstellar spaceship Telon 9, which is attracted by an ancient homing beacon the boy had inadvertently switched on after finding it by mistake. He then finds himself back in the year 1046.
Unable to return, he finds himself embroiled in the rise to power of Harold Godwinson (ultimately King of England). But was he the last Saxon King, or more likely the last Viking King?
My Story will postulate that Harold may have been born Scandinavian on both sides. His Mother Gytha Thorkelsdottir, and his Father Godwin was likely the illegitimate son of Sweyn Forkbeard King of the Danes. It seems improbable that Godwin came from obscure beginnings. The Son it is said of Wulnoth, a little known Thane in Sussex. Perhaps the reason for this fable is that the men of Wessex would not tolerate a Viking for their Earl. Why was Godwin so embroiled in the lives of King Sweyn Forkbeard and his son Cnut (later King of England)? His wife Gytha’s brother was married to Cnut’s sister Estrith. Harold’s Father, Godwin Earl of Kent, is almost certainly poisoned in 1053 on the orders of King Edward the Confessor, leaving the way open for Harold to lead England.
The complete defeat of the Welsh in 1064 was not only a great military feat in arms; it opened the way to the throne convincing the Witenagemot of Harold’s peerless credentials. In 1066 Harold made the heroic march to York to defeat the most fearsome warrior of the age Harold Hardrada, a stunning feat in arms which few would have undertaken. Then a lightning march back to London, and then on to Senlac Hill in Sussex choosing his own place of battle. So how could this fine military strategist have been defeated with the odds so firmly in his favour? Perhaps the deadly poison found in the forests around Rouen could provide the answer.
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