The death of Edward the Confessor in January 1066 began a complicated dispute over the succession to the English throne. Harold Godwinson, a powerful noble, became king in the absence of a viable successor amongst Edward’s broader bloodline. Meanwhile, the duke of Normandy William the Conqueror, claimed that Edward had pledged the throne to him and that Harold had promised to support his claim whilst being held captive in Normandy in 1064. Harold’s exiled brother, Tostig, conducted a series of unsuccessful raids along the coast in May using forces mustered in exile in Normandy. After subsequently fleeing to Scotland, he travelled to Norway and persuaded the king, Harald Hardrada, to launch his own bid for the throne. Harold, who had been awaiting William the Conqueror’s invasion in the south, rushed north upon Harald and Tostig’s landing, defeating them decisively at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September. William the Conqueror’s invasion in the south would follow just three days later.
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