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Bayeux Tapestry Experience, Essay Example

Pages: 1

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Essay

A Letter from Harold Godwinson, to His Family

Part 1

To My Dear Family:

You know that I am rightful heir to the crown. You remember well, I think, that King Edward the Confessor committed his kingdom into my hands.It is, therefore, my responsibility to protect and guard this kingdom against every invasion (Ibis Communications 1).I have begun to feel a sense of trepidation. I am not afraid for myself, but I do fear for each of you. Many of my men have been speaking of an omen – a bright, traveling light, burning across the sky. Some say it is an omen for England, but I hope that it is an omen for our enemies. Still, Perhaps it has it is for me and for you. There are many pretenders to the throne.I have been betrayed by my own brother. He has taken up arms against me and now claims to support Harald Hadrada (Sturlson 462), who says he is a descendant of King Cnut. Yet you must never doubt that England is rightfully ours. It is now being paid for in blood and sacrifice.

There is another pretender – one who I fear more than Hadrada – William of Normandy. He claims that I swore fealty to him and that I gave an oath to support his right to the throne. These things are blatant lies. You must never believe them. I fear that this dispute can only be settled through much bloodshed. Let us hope that more is shed by the Normans than by us!

Part 2

To My Dear Family: Perhaps my misgivings were not misplaced! Harald Hadrada has taken Scarborough and burnt her to the ground (Boxell 1). He saw success again at Fulford on the Ouse, and although we took many of their men, they took more of ours. Much blood was spilled, and the sharp, metallic scent of blood is mixing with the odors of sweat and horses. Nevertheless, our men saw glory amidst it. Few can boast of such bravery or of such perseverance.Our defenses have been broken, and Hadrada has taken away many hostages and supplies. Yet we can now take them off guard. Many of their men, expecting ours to just roll over and play dead, are having a dip in the river.

My ears are glad for a momentary pause from the thunderous sounds of battle. The clanging of swords on shields and the whizzing of enemy arrows are, for the moment, gone. Yet, I must admit that part of me yearns for battle. I am eager for the chance to prove myself and to pit my wit against those who would deny my right to power. I hope to write to you again soon with news of final victory! (Boxell 1)

Part 3

Perhaps, I was, indeed, right about the omen. My men have taken the Danes by surprise. Instead of hostages, we have brought them an army. My fear has been vanquished, now. I am armed and ready to face every last blow from Harald’s armies. Now is our chance to show the world what we are made of. Now is our hour for glory! I must extol you not to worry, my sons, for even if I fall, you have friends to look after you.  (Sturluson and Magnusson 151).

Part 4

Harald has fallen, but he is not alone. We now find ourselves lacking in defense. We have spent too much of our time and too many of our resources fighting the Danes and William of Normandy has used it to his advantage.Alas, our victories have made us weak.William’s ships have carriedin countless men who surround us and charge in on us from every corner. We are now battling tooth and nail. England is burning.

Flames leap higher and higher and have turned our beautiful land into bursts of black and red. Still, I continue to fight. Despite the sounds of cracking bone as I swingthrough helmets and mail. I did not flinch as my weapons separated hands from wrists and feet from legs. My sword cut down so many men that blood ran down the sides of my blade and fell upon the ground. Yet the bodies of my men have fallen down around me.

Indeed, so many bodies have fallen here that I can hardly tell which belong to my men and which belong to William’s. Heads have fallen away from bodies and blood and carnage are everywhere. Yet, still I fight, with perseverance and courage. For England must be defended and must belong to her rightful heir.Yet, just as I had reached my finest point of glory, I heard a whizz and felt a barb in my eye. And now, I fear, I have not long to live. Pain is pulsing through me now, but I know that if I dislodge the arrow, I will perish. Around me, many have met worse fates. Some have been trampled, with the imprints of horses’ feet still in their skulls (BBC 1). Many have been run through with spears.The land has suffered as much as her soldiers. What used to be beautiful is now barren.

Still, there is some beauty in war. Banners of brilliant reds and blue hang above us and our chainmail gleams brightly in the sunlight. Our colored shields help to balance out the ever present stains of crimson. The horses, even the horses of the enemy, are in rare form. Their backs glisten in the summer heat and some take on the look of gold. Yet, it is getting harder to see them now. I shall not be long for this world, I fear.

My son, if I perish,you must take the throne and try to manage. After the cruelty and carnage dealt to us by William, it is even more imperative that the just and rightful ruler of England take the throne.  I am afraid it is a hard burden to have to bear at so young an age, but I have faith in you. Remember that I died fighting for you and for England. Remember that I never fell back, but fought, to the death. I pray that you will do the same. Sons, protect your mother. I can write no longer.

Works Cited

BBC. “Battle of Hastings.” 2011. Anglo-Saxons: The Normans . 20 August 2011 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/anglo_saxons/normans/>.

Boxell, Geoff. “Harold Hardrada: Big Man, Big Reputation.” n.d. 1066 & the Norman Conquest. 20 August 2011 <http://geoffboxell.tripod.com/1066.htm>.

Ibis Communications. “Invasion of England, 1066.” n.d. Eyewitness to History. 20 August 2011 <http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/bayeux.htm>.

Sturlson, Snorri W. Heimskringla: The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway. Cincinatti: Forgotten Books, 2008.

Sturluson, Snorri and Magnus Magnusson. King Harald’s Saga: Harald Hardradi of Norway: From Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla . London: Penguin Books, 2005.

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