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Author Topic: Would it have been better if Harold had lost at Stamford Bridge?  (Read 251 times)

Norman Yoke

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My dad and I went to Sutton Hoo earlier this year and we discussed the above question. It’s an interesting one and reading about the next Stamford Bridge meeting in the latest Withowinde (my first print copy and what a delight it is to read - huge thanks to the contributors and those who put it together) got me thinking about it again.


If you’re of the “the Norman Conquest is not something to be celebrated” persuasion, would it have been better for the English people at the time if Harold had lost to Harald Hardrada? Would the rule of a Norwegian king have been more tolerable due to the recent history of Cnut’s reign and the large cultural mixing between the Norse and English over the preceding centuries? Would it have prevented William’s attempt to cross over?


Discuss!

Eanflaed

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Re: Would it have been better if Harold had lost at Stamford Bridge?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2022, 11:20:07 PM »
I’m not sure it would have made any difference. Had Hardrada won at Stamford Bridge he wouldn’t have had the support of the English to fight at Hastings nor would he have had the “intelligence network “ to keep him informed. Unless you believe he was in cahoots with William of Normandy. But even then, William had gone to so much trouble getting the pope on his side, I doubt he would have given way to  Hardrada.

Bowerthane

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Re: Would it have been better if Harold had lost at Stamford Bridge?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2022, 06:18:59 PM »
Interesting thought however, Norman Yoke.  Certainly a new one on me.  Now that I come to think of it, I'm tempted to agree with Eanflaed.  Could a victorious Hardrada have consolidated his rule quickly and robustly enough to stop the Norman invasion, or would he have lost at Hastings ( or the Siege of London?)?


I'd be interested to hear any ideas you may have, as to how a Viking victory at Stamford Bridge would have played out.


 

peter

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Re: Would it have been better if Harold had lost at Stamford Bridge?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2022, 08:05:06 PM »
Most likely the northern earls would have been quite happy to join with Harald Sigurdsson against the land-grabbing Harold and his family, who between them owned most of England anyway (could be why the earls didn't try too hard at Fulford). And dear old Tostig would certainly have loved to dethrone his brother, although Tostig's bunch of Flemish mercenaries may have caused a bit of chaos before Harald could bring them under his thumb. I think Tostig put in a lot of mileage travelling between Sigurdsson's Royal new-town of Oslo and the towns of Bruges, Caen and Falaise to 'arrange' things with brother-in-law Baldwin V and Duke William of Normandy (Baldwin helped finance both Tostig and son-in-law William). William the crafty Norman Duke may have delayed his channel crossing on purpose, fooling both the English and the Norwegian armies. (When you read this Jenny you'll probably understand why I didn't send you my take on the Battle (just north) of Hastings for Withowinde). I live on the edge of the Pevensey Levels, close to the Pevensey end of the 1066 Trail, and I think historians often fail to investigate the reasons why William landed at Pevensey and did not launch a direct seaborne attack on Hastings... but that's another story.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2022, 06:25:37 PM by peter »

Eanflaed

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Re: Would it have been better if Harold had lost at Stamford Bridge?
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2022, 06:58:16 PM »
Sounds intriguing Peter! I think you should send your ideas to me!! (Btw my grandad lived on the edge of the Pevensey Levels too -Pevensey Castle was my playground!).

Norman Yoke

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Re: Would it have been better if Harold had lost at Stamford Bridge?
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2022, 07:55:47 PM »
Very interesting ideas everyone and I'm glad it sparked a bit of discussion!


Great to see so many Sussex people on here too. I grew up just outside of Hastings and all my dad's side of the family are from Battle (and still are). I went to school at Battle Abbey, so some nice 1066 symmetry there Jenny with Pevensey Castle being your playground, as the supposed battle-site was mine!

Ceawlin

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Re: Would it have been better if Harold had lost at Stamford Bridge?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2022, 07:23:50 PM »
I suspect that the difference would have been that Hardrada would not have been a position to attempt to stub out the threat from William at Hastings, so that battle wouldn't have happened and the ensuing campaign would have been quite different. William benefitted hugely from the lack of any resistance figurehead, whether Hardrada could have provided that is unclear. Different magnates are likely to have backed different horses, some declaring for William, and some for Hardrada, with the war between the two perhaps also leaving an opening for an actual English leader. William was a chillingly effective conqueror, but Hardrada was a hugley experienced and successful campaigner. Who would have won out, who can say? But certainly Hardrada's could have been expected to have been more of a continuity regime.