The death of Edward the Confessor ignited a battle of succession for the English throne. While Harold Godwinson had been elected king by the assembly of nobles, his younger brother Tostig had enlisted Harald Hardrada, king of Norway, to support his counterclaim. Sailing up the River Ouse, the Norse invaders captured York and defeated the Earls of Mercia and Northumbria; they then marched south. Harold, learning of their arrival, force-marched his army north almost 200 miles (322 km) in four days. Crossing the River Derwent at Stamford Bridge, Hardrada and Tostig were taken by surprise when Harold’s army fell upon them. The Norsemen formed a defensive shield wall but, after fierce fighting, were overwhelmed. Late reinforcements, under Eystein Oire, came to support Hardrada, but to no avail. In the ensuing carnage, Hardrada, Tostig and Oire were slain. Three weeks later, Harold too would die, at the Battle of Hastings.
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