Harold II (born 1022?, ruled 1066), the last king of the Anglo-Saxon period, reigned for only nine months. He was the son of the powerful Earl Godwine and was himself earl of East Anglia and of Wessex before he was chosen king. Most of the time from 1055 until 1066 was spent in conflict with other claimants to the throne. He first defeated the house of Leofric of Mercia and its allies.

Harold paid at least two visits to the Continent, probably in 1056 and 1062. He fought for William of Normandy against Conan of Brittany. It was at this time he may have taken an oath to support William's claim to the throne of England.

When Edward the Confessor, the king, was dying, he named Harold as his successor. Hardly had Harold come to the throne, in January 1066, before he was compelled to take his army north to face an invading Norwegian force that included his brother. After defeating the Norwegians he soon had to hasten southward to face another invading army under William, duke of Normandy. Harold met William at Hastings and fell on the field of battle.

William based his claim to the English throne on the promise he declared he obtained from Harold while Harold was in Normandy in the days of Edward the Confessor. The famous Bayeux tapestry shows Harold taking the oath to support William. One cannot be sure of this incident because the tapestry, which was made by Norman artisans, doubtless presents William's claim in a strong way.

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