Picardy is a historical territory and a former administrative region of France. Since 1 January 2016, it has been part of the new region of Hauts-de-France, it is located in the northern part of France. The historical province of Picardy stretched from north of Noyon to Calais, via the whole of the Somme department and the north of the Aisne department; the province of Artois separated Picardy from French Flanders. From the 5th century the area was part of the Frankish Empire, in the feudal period it encompassed the six countships of Boulogne, Ponthieu, Amiénois and Laonnois. According to the 843 Treaty of Verdun the region became part of West Francia, the Kingdom of France; the name "Picardy" was not used until the 13th century. During this time, the name applied to all lands where the Picard language was spoken, which included all the territories from Paris to the Netherlands. In the Latin Quarter of Paris, people identified a "Picard Nation" of students at Sorbonne University, most of whom came from Flanders.
During the Hundred Years' War, Picardy was the centre of the Jacquerie peasant revolt in 1358. From 1419 onwards, the Picardy counties were acquired by the Burgundian duke Philip the Good, confirmed by King Charles VII of France at the 1435 Congress of Arras. In 1477, King Louis XI of France occupied key towns in Picardy. By the end of 1477, Louis would control most of Artois. In the 16th century, the government of Picardy was created; this became a new administrative region of France, separate from what was defined as Picardy. The new Picardy included the Somme département, the northern half of the Aisne département, a small fringe in the north of the Oise département. In 1557, Picardy was invaded by Habsburg forces under the command of Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy. After a seventeen-day siege, St. Quentin would be ransacked, while Noyon would be burned by the Habsburg army. In the early 18th century, an infectious disease similar to English sweat originated from the region and spread across France.
It was called Picardy sweat. Sugar beet was introduced by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, in order to counter the United Kingdom, which had seized the sugar islands possessed by France in the Caribbean; the sugar industry has continued to play a prominent role in the economy of the region. One of the most significant historical events to occur in Picardy was the series of battles fought along the Somme during World War I. From September 1914 to August 1918, four major battles, including the Battle of the Somme, were fought by British and German forces in the fields of Northern Picardy. In 2009, the Regional Committee for local government reform proposed to reduce the number of French regions and cancel additions of new regions in the near future. Picardy would have disappeared, each department would have joined a nearby region; the Oise would have been incorporated in the Île-de-France, the Somme would have been incorporated in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Aisne would have been incorporated in the Champagne-Ardenne.
The vast majority of Picards were opposed to this proposal, it was scrapped in 2010. Today, the modern region of Picardy no longer includes the coastline from Berck to Calais, via Boulogne, now in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, but does incorporate the pays of Beauvaisis, Noyonnais, Soissonnais, among other departments of France; the older definition of Picardy survives in the name of the Picard language, which applies not only to the dialects of Picardy proper, but to the Romance dialects spoken in the Nord-Pas de Calais région, north of Picardy proper, parts of the Belgian province of Hainaut. Between the 1990 and 1999 censuses, the population of Oise increased 0.61% per year, while the Aisne department lost inhabitants, the Somme grew with a 0.16% growth per year. Today, 41.3% of the population of Picardy live inside the Oise department. Picardy stretches from the long sand beaches of the Somme estuary in the west to the vast forests and pastures of the Thiérache in the east and down to the châteaux of Chantilly or Pierrefonds near the Paris Area and vineyards of the border with Champagne to the south.
The president of the regional council is Claude Gewerc, a Socialist in office since 2004. That year he defeated longtime UDF incumbent Gilles de Robien. Since 2008, the mayor of the city of Amiens, the regional capital, has been Socialist Gilles Demailly, he defeated longtime mayor Gilles de Robien of the New Centre party. The region of Picardy has a strong and proud cultural identity; the Picard cultural heritage includes some of the most extraordinary Gothic churches, distinctive local cuisine and traditional games and sports, such as the longue paume, as well as danses picardes and its own bagpipes, called the pipasso. The villages of Picardy have a distinct character, with their houses made of red bricks accented with a "lace" of white bricks. A minority of people still speak the Picard language, one of the languages of France, spoken in Artois. "P'tit quinquin", a Picard song, is a symbol of the local culture
John II of France
John II, called John the Good, was King of France from 1350 until his death. He was the second monarch from the House of Valois; when John II came to power, France was facing several disasters: the Black Death, which killed nearly half of its population. While John was a prisoner in London, his son Charles became regent and faced several rebellions, which he overcame. To liberate his father, he concluded the Treaty of Brétigny, by which France lost many territories and paid an enormous ransom. In an exchange of hostages, which included his second son Louis, Duke of Anjou, John was released from captivity to raise funds for his ransom. Upon his return to France, he created the franc to stabilize the currency and tried to get rid of the free companies by sending them to a crusade, but Pope Innocent VI died shortly before their meeting in Avignon; when John was informed that Louis had escaped from captivity, he voluntarily returned to England, where he died in 1364. He was succeeded by his son Charles V.
John was nine years old. Philip VI's ascent to the throne was unexpected: because of the Salic law, all female descendants of his great uncle Philip the Fair were passed over. Thus, as new King of France, Philip had to consolidate his power in order to protect his throne from rival claimants. A marriage with Eleanor of Woodstock, sister of King Edward III of England, was considered, but instead Philip invited John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, to Fontainebleau. Bohemia needed French diplomatic support. A treaty was drawn up; the military clauses stipulated that, in the event of war, Bohemia would support the French army with four hundred infantrymen. The political clauses ensured that the Lombard crown would not be disputed if the king of Bohemia managed to obtain it. Philip selected Bonne of Bohemia as a wife for his son, as she was closer to child-bearing age, the dowry was fixed at 120,000 florins. John reached the age of majority, 13 years and one day, on 27 April 1332, received overlordship of the duchy of Normandy, as well as the counties of Anjou and Maine.
The wedding was celebrated on 28 July at the church of Notre-Dame in Melun in the presence of six thousand guests. The festivities were prolonged by a further two months when the young groom was knighted at the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris; as the new Duke of Normandy, John was solemnly granted the arms of a knight in front of a prestigious assembly bringing together the kings of Bohemia and Navarre, the dukes of Burgundy and the Brabant. Upon his accession as Duke of Normandy in 1332, John had to deal with the reality that most of the Norman nobility was allied with the English camp. Normandy depended economically more on maritime trade across the English Channel than on river trade on the Seine; the duchy had not been English for 150 years. To line up behind one or other sovereign risked confiscation. Therefore, Norman members of the nobility were governed as interdependent clans, which allowed them to obtain and maintain charters guaranteeing the duchy a measure of autonomy, it was split into two key camps, the counts of Tancarville and the counts of Harcourt, in conflict for generations.
Tension arose again in 1341. King Philip, worried about the richest area of the kingdom breaking into bloodshed, ordered the bailiffs of Bayeux and Cotentin to quell the dispute. Geoffroy d'Harcourt raised troops against the king, rallying a number of nobles protective of their autonomy and against royal interference; the rebels demanded that Geoffroy be made duke, thus guaranteeing the autonomy granted by the charter. Royal troops took the castle at Geoffroy was exiled to Brabant. Three of his companions were decapitated in Paris on 3 April 1344. In 1342, John was in Avignon at the coronation of Pope Clement VI, in the latter part of 1343, he was a member of a peace parley with Edward III of England's chancery clerk. By 1345, increasing numbers of Norman rebels had begun to pay homage to Edward III, constituting a major threat to the legitimacy of the Valois kings; the defeat at the Battle of Crécy on 26 August 1346, the capitulation of Calais on 3 August 1347, after an eleven-month siege, further damaged royal prestige.
Defections by the nobility, whose land fell within the broad economic influence of England in the north and west, increased. King Philip VI decided to seek a truce. Duke John met Geoffroy d'Harcourt, to whom the king agreed to return all confiscated goods appointing him sovereign captain in Normandy. John approached the Tancarville family, whose loyalty could ensure his authority in Normandy; the marriage of John, Viscount of Melun, to Jeanne, the only heiress of the county of Tancarville, ensured that the Melun-Tancarville party remained loyal to John, while Geoffroy d'Harcourt continued to act as defender for Norman freedoms and thus of the reforming party. On 11 September 1349, John's wife, Bonne of Bohemia, died at the Maubu
Philip the Good
Philip the Good was Duke of Burgundy as Philip III from 1419 until his death. He was a member of a cadet line of the Valois dynasty, to which all the 15th-century kings of France belonged. During his reign, Burgundy reached the apex of its prosperity and prestige and became a leading center of the arts. Philip is known in history for his administrative reforms, his patronage of Flemish artists such as Jan van Eyck and Franco-Flemish composers such as Gilles Binchois, the capture of Joan of Arc. In political affairs, he alternated between alliances with the English and the French in an attempt to improve his dynasty's position; as ruler of Flanders, Limburg, Hainaut, Zeeland and Namur, he played an important role in the history of the Low Countries. Born in 1396 in Dijon, Philip was the son of Margaret of Bavaria, his father succeeded Philip's grandfather Philip the Bold as Duke of Burgundy in 1404. On 28 January 1405, Philip was named Count of Charolais in appanage of the duke and became engaged on the same day, at the age of 8, to Michelle of Valois, a daughter of King Charles VI of France and Isabeau of Bavaria.
They were married in June 1409. After Michelle's death in 1422, Philip married Bonne of Artois, a daughter of Philip of Artois, Count of Eu, the widow of his uncle, Philip II, Count of Nevers, in Moulins-les-Engelbert on 30 November 1424. Bonne of Artois is sometimes confused with Philip's biological aunt named Bonne, in part due to the papal dispensation required for the marriage, which made no distinction between a marital aunt and a biological aunt. Bonne of Artois lived only a year. Philip was married for a third time to Isabella of Portugal, a daughter of John I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster, in Bruges on 7 January 1430; this marriage produced three sons: Count of Charolais. Corneille and Anthony were his favorite bastard sons and successively bore the title Grand bâtard de Bourgogne. Philip became duke of Burgundy and count of Flanders and Franche-Comté upon the assassination of John the Fearless, his father, in 1419. Philip accused Charles, the Dauphin of France and Philip's brother-in-law, of planning the murder, which took place during a meeting between John and Charles at Montereau.
Because of this, he continued to prosecute the Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War, which in turn became entangled in the larger Hundred Years' War. In 1420, Philip allied himself with Henry V of England under the Treaty of Troyes. In 1423, the marriage of Philip's sister Anne to John, Duke of Bedford, regent for Henry VI of England, strengthened the English alliance. On 23 May 1430, Philip's troops under the Count of Ligny captured Joan of Arc at Compiègne and sold her to the English, who orchestrated a heresy trial against her conducted by pro-Burgundian clerics. Despite this action against Joan of Arc, Philip's alliance with England was broken in 1435 when he signed the Treaty of Arras, which revoked the Treaty of Troyes and recognised Charles VII as king of France. Philip signed the treaty for a variety of reasons, one of which may have been a desire to be recognised as the preeminent duke in France; this action would prove a poor decision in the long term. Philip's defection to the French would prove not only catastrophic to the dual monarchy of England and France, but to his own domains as well, subordinating them to a powerful centralised Valois monarchy.
He attacked Calais, a possession of the English, but the alliance with Charles was broken in 1439. Philip supported the revolt of the French nobles the following year and offered shelter to the Dauphin Louis, who had rebelled against his father Charles VII. Philip was preoccupied with matters in his own territories and was involved directly in the Hundred Years' War between England and France, although he did play a role during a number of periods, such as the campaign against Compiègne during which his troops captured Joan of Arc, he incorporated Namur into Burgundian territory in 1429 and Hainault and Hol
The Somme is a river in Picardy, northern France. The name Somme comes from a Celtic word meaning "tranquility"; the department Somme was named after this river. The river is 245 km long, from its source in the high ground of the former Forest of Arrouaise at Fonsommes near Saint-Quentin, to the Bay of the Somme, in the English Channel, it lies in the geological syncline which forms the Solent. This gives it a constant and gentle gradient where several fluvial terraces have been identified; the Somme featured prominently in several historical campaigns. In 1066, the invasion fleet of William the Conqueror assembled in the Bay of the Somme, at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme; the river featured in the 1346 withdrawal of Edward III of England's army, which forded the river at the Battle of Blanchetaque during the campaign, which culminated in the Battle of Crécy. Crossing the river featured prominently in the campaign which led to the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. In 1636, a Spanish army led by Thomas Francis, prince of Carignan, crossed the Somme defeating a French army during the Thirty Years War threatening Paris.
Most famously, the Battle of the Somme, during World War I, lasted from July to November 1916 and resulted in more than a million casualties. Private A S Bullock in his wartime memoir recalls his first sight of it in early April 1918:'... we reached a small place called Hengest sur Somme. The train stopped and we descended. There in front of us was a muddy and somewhat narrow stream, which has given its name to one of the most awful battles in history - the Somme.' The great battles that stopped the German advance in the Spring Offensive of 1918 were fought around the valley of the Somme in places like Villers Bretonneux, which marked the beginning of the end of the war. Aisne: Saint-Quentin Somme: Ham, Péronne, Amiens, Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, Le Crotoy The river is characterized by a gentle gradient and a steady flow; the valley is more or less steep-sided but its bottom is flat with fens and pools. These characteristics of steady flow and flooded valley bottom arise from the river's being fed by the ground water in the chalk basin in which it lies.
At earlier, colder times, from the Günz to the Würm the river has cut down into the Cretaceous geology to a level below the modern water table. The valley bottom has now therefore, filled with water; this picture, of the source of the Somme in 1986, shows it when the water table had fallen below the surface of the chalk in which the aquifer lies. Here, the flow of water had been sufficient to keep fen from forming; this satellite photograph shows the fenny valley crossing the chalk to the sea on the left. The sinuous length at the centre of the picture lies downstream from Péronne. One of the fens, the Marais de l'Île is a nature reserve in the town of St. Quentin; the traditional market gardens of Amiens, the Hortillonages are on this sort of land but drained. Once exploited for peat cutting, the fen is now used for fishing and shooting The construction of the Canal de la Somme began in 1770 and reached completion in 1843, it is 156 km long, beginning at St. Simon and opening into the Bay of the Somme.
From St. Simon to Froissy, the canal is alongside the river. Thence to the sea, the river is river and navigation. From Abbeville, it is diverted through the silted, former estuary, to Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, where the maritime canal, once called the canal du Duc d'Angoulême enters the English Channel; the St Quentin Canal, famous for the 1918 battle, links the Somme to northern France and Belgium and southward to the Oise. The Canal du Nord links the Somme to the Oise, at Noyon, thence to Paris. In 2001, the Somme valley was affected by high floods, which were in large part due to a rise in the water table of the surrounding land. Catchment area 5,560 km2. at Abbeville. Daily flow rates compared with mean rates for the time of year at Hangest-sur-Somme. Catchment area 4,835 km2. for the year -1993.1994. 1995. 1996. 1997. 1998. 1999. 2000.2001.2002.2003.2004.2005. Mean flow rates daily at Péronne. Catchment area 1,294 km2. for the year -1986.1987.1988.1989.1990.1991.1992.1993.1994.1995.1996.1997.1998.1999.2000.2001.2002.2003.2004.2005.
Delattre, Ch. Mériaux, E. and Waterlot, M. Guides Géologiques Régionaux: Région du Nord, Flandre Artois Boulonnais Picardie Pictures from the Somme
Treaty of Brétigny
The Treaty of Brétigny was a treaty, drafted on 8 May 1360 and ratified on 24 October 1360, between King Edward III of England and King John II of France. In retrospect it is seen as having marked the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years' War —as well as the height of English power on the Continent, it was signed at Brétigny, a village near Chartres, ratified as the Treaty of Calais on 24 October 1360. The treaty was signed four years after John was taken as a prisoner of war at the Battle of Poitiers; the ensuing conflicts in Paris between Étienne Marcel and the Dauphin, the outbreak of the Jacquerie peasant revolt weakened French bargaining power. The exactions of the English, who wished to yield as few as possible of the advantages claimed by them in the abortive Treaty of London the year before, made negotiations difficult, the discussion of terms begun early in April lasted more than a month. By virtue of this treaty, Edward III obtained, besides Guyenne and Gascony, Poitou and Aunis, Agenais, Périgord, Quercy, the countship of Gauré, Rouergue, Montreuil-sur-Mer, Calais, Sangatte and the countship of Guînes.
The king of England was to hold these clear, without doing homage for them. Furthermore, the treaty established that title to'all the islands that the King of England now holds' would no longer be under the suzerainty of the King of France; the title Duke of Aquitaine was abandoned in favor of Lord of Aquitaine. On his side, the King of England gave up the duchy of Touraine, the countships of Anjou and Maine, the suzerainty of Brittany and of Flanders, he renounced all claims to the French throne. The terms of Brétigny were meant to untangle the feudal responsibilities that had caused so much conflict, and, as far as the English were concerned, would concentrate English territories in an expanded version of Aquitaine. England restored the rights of the Bishop of Coutances to Alderney, stripped from them by the King of England in 1228. John II had to pay three million écus for his ransom, would be released after he paid one million; the occasion was the first minting of the franc, equivalent to one livre tournois.
As a guarantee for the payment of his ransom, John gave as hostages two of his sons, Louis I, Duke of Anjou and John, Duke of Berry, several princes and nobles, four inhabitants of Paris, two citizens from each of the nineteen principal towns of France. This treaty was ratified and sworn to by the two kings and by their eldest sons, the Black Prince and the dauphin Charles on 24 October 1360 at Calais. At the same time, the special conditions relating to each important article of the treaty and the renunciatory clauses in which the kings abandoned their rights over the territory they had yielded to one another were signed. Edward III retired to England. While the hostages were held, John returned to France to try to raise funds to pay the ransom. In 1362, John's son, Louis of Anjou, a hostage in English-held Calais, escaped captivity. Thus, with his stand-in hostage gone, John felt honour-bound to return to captivity in England, he died in captivity in 1364 and his son, Dauphin Charles, succeeded him as Charles V, king of France.
In 1369, on the pretext that Edward III had failed to observe the terms of the treaty, the king of France declared war once again. By the time of the 1377 death of Edward III, English forces had been pushed back into their territories in the southwest, around Bordeaux; the treaty did not lead to lasting peace, but procured nine years' respite from the Hundred Years' War. In the following years, French forces were involved in battles against the Anglo-Navarrese and the Bretons. List of treaties Treaty of Troyes Burne, Alfred H; the Crecy War: Military History of the Hundred Years War from 1337 to the Peace of Bretigny, 1360. Eyre & Spottiswoode: 1955. ISBN 0-8371-8301-4. Guignebert, Charles. A Short History of the French People. Vol 1. F. G. Richmond Translator. New York: Macmillan and Company
Calais is a city and major ferry port in northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's prefecture is its third-largest city of Arras; the population of the metropolitan area at the 2010 census was 126,395. Calais overlooks the Strait of Dover, the narrowest point in the English Channel, only 34 km wide here, is the closest French town to England; the White Cliffs of Dover can be seen on a clear day from Calais. Calais is a major port for ferries between France and England, since 1994, the Channel Tunnel has linked nearby Coquelles to Folkestone by rail. Due to its position, Calais since the Middle Ages has been a major port and a important centre for transport and trading with England, it grew into a thriving centre for wool production. The town came to be called the "brightest jewel in the English crown" owing to its great importance as the gateway for the tin, lead and wool trades.
Calais was a territorial possession of England until its capture by France in 1558. The town was razed to the ground during World War II, when in May 1940, it was a strategic bombing target of the invading German forces who took the town during the Siege of Calais. During World War II, the Germans built massive bunkers along the coast in preparation for launching missiles on England; the old part of the town, Calais proper, is situated on an artificial island surrounded by canals and harbours. The modern part of the town, St-Pierre, lies to the south-east. In the centre of the old town is the Place d'Armes, in which stands the Tour du Guet, or watch-tower, a structure built in the 13th century, used as a lighthouse until 1848 when a new lighthouse was built by the port. South east of the Place is the church of Notre-Dame, built during the English occupancy of Calais, it is arguably the only church built in the English perpendicular style in all of France. In this church former French President Charles de Gaulle married his wife Yvonne Vendroux.
South of the Place and opposite the Parc St Pierre is the Hôtel-de-ville, the belfry from the 16th and early 17th centuries. Today, Calais is visited by more than 10 million annually. Aside from being a key transport hub, Calais is a notable fishing port and a centre for fish marketing, some 3,000 people are still employed in the lace industry for which the town is famed; the early history of habitation in the area is limited. The Romans called the settlement Caletum. Julius Caesar mustered 800 to 1,000 sailing boats, five legions and some 2,000 horses at Calais, due to its strategic position, to attack Britannia; the English could hold on to it for so many centuries because it remained an island surrounded by marshes, therefore impossible to attack from the land. At some time before the 10th century, it would have been a Flemish-speaking fishing village on a sandy beach backed by pebbles and a creek, with a natural harbour at the west edge of the early medieval estuary of the River Aa; as the pebble and sand ridge extended eastward from Calais, the haven behind it developed into fen, as the estuary progressively filled with silt and peat.
Afterwards, canals were cut between Saint-Omer, the trading centre at the head of the estuary, three places to the west and east on the newly formed coast: Calais and Dunkirk. Calais was improved by the Count of Flanders in 997 and fortified by the Count of Boulogne in 1224; the first document mentioning the existence of this community is the town charter granted by Mathieu d'Alsace, Count of Boulogne, in 1181 to Gerard de Guelders. In 1189, Richard the Lionheart is documented to have landed at Calais on his journey to the Third Crusade. English wool trade interests and King Edward III's claims to be heir to the Kingdom of France led to the Battle of Crécy between England and France in 1346, followed by Edward's siege and capture of Calais in 1347. Angered, the English king demanded reprisals against the town's citizens for holding out for so long and ordered that the town's population be killed en masse, he agreed, however, to spare them, on condition that six of the principal citizens would come to him and barefooted and with ropes around their necks, give themselves up to death.
On their arrival he ordered their execution, but pardoned them when his queen, Philippa of Hainault, begged him to spare their lives. This event is commemorated in The Burghers of Calais, one of the most famous sculptures by Auguste Rodin, erected in the city in 1895. Though sparing the lives of the delegation members, King Edward drove out most of the French inhabitants, settled the town with English; the municipal charter of Calais granted by the Countess of Artois, was reconfirmed by Edward that year. In 1360 the Treaty of Brétigny assigned Guînes and Calais—collectively the "Pale of Calais"—to English rule in perpetuity, but this assignment was informally and only implemented. On 9 February 1363 the town was made a staple port, it had by 1372 become a parliamentary borough sending burgesses to the House of Commons of the Parliament of England. It remained part of the Diocese of Thérouanne from 1379; the town came to be called the "brightest jewel in the English crown" owing to its great importance as the gateway for the tin, lead and wool trades.
Its customs revenues amounted at times to a
Harold Godwinson called Harold II, was the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England. Harold reigned from 6 January 1066 until his death at the Battle of Hastings, fighting the Norman invaders led by William the Conqueror during the Norman conquest of England, his death marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule over England. Harold was a powerful member of a prominent Anglo-Saxon family with ties to Cnut the Great. Upon the death of his brother-in-law King Edward the Confessor on 5 January 1066, the Witenagemot convened and chose Harold to succeed. In late September, he repelled an invasion by rival claimant Harald Hardrada of Norway before marching his army back south to meet William the Conqueror at Hastings two weeks later. Harold was a son of Godwin, the powerful Earl of Wessex, of Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, whose brother Ulf the Earl was married to Estrith, the daughter of King Sweyn Forkbeard and sister of King Cnut the Great of England and Denmark. Ulf and Estrith's son would become King Sweyn II of Denmark in 1047.
Godwin was the son of Wulfnoth a thegn and a native of Sussex. Godwin began his political career by supporting King Edmund Ironside, but switched to supporting King Cnut by 1018, when Cnut named him Earl of Wessex. Godwin remained an earl throughout the remainder of Cnut's reign, one of only two earls to survive to the end of that reign. On Cnut's death in 1035, Godwin supported Harthacnut instead of Cnut's initial successor Harold Harefoot, but managed to switch sides in 1037—although not without becoming involved in the 1036 murder of Alfred Aetheling, half-brother of Harthacnut and younger brother of the King Edward the Confessor; when Harold Harefoot died in 1040, Harthacnut became King of England and Godwin's power was imperiled by his earlier involvement in Alfred's murder, but an oath and large gift secured the new king's favour for Godwin. Harthacnut's death in 1042 involved Godwin in a role as kingmaker, helping to secure the English throne for Edward the Confessor. In 1045 Godwin reached the height of his power.
Godwin and Gytha had several children—six sons: Sweyn, Tostig, Gyrth and Wulfnoth. The birthdates of the children are unknown. Harold was aged about 25 in 1045, which makes his birth year around 1020. Edith married Edward on 23 January 1045 and, around that time, Harold became Earl of East Anglia. Harold is called "earl" when he appears as a witness in a will that may date to 1044. One reason for his appointment to East Anglia may have been a need to defend against the threat from King Magnus the Good of Norway, it is possible that Harold led some of the ships from his earldom that were sent to Sandwich in 1045 against Magnus. Sweyn, Harold's elder brother, had been named an earl in 1043, it was around the time that Harold was named an earl that he began a relationship with Edith, who appears to have been the heiress to lands in Cambridgeshire and Essex, lands in Harold's new earldom. The relationship was a form of marriage, not blessed or sanctioned by the Church, known as More danico, or "in the Danish manner", was accepted by most laypeople in England at the time.
Any children of such a union were considered legitimate. Harold entered the relationship in part to secure support in his new earldom. Harold's elder brother Sweyn was exiled in 1047 after abducting the abbess of Leominster. Sweyn's lands were divided between a cousin, Beorn. In 1049, Harold was in command of a ship or ships that were sent with a fleet to aid Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor against Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, in revolt against Henry. During this campaign, Sweyn returned to England and attempted to secure a pardon from the king, but Harold and Beorn refused to return any of their lands, Sweyn, after leaving the royal court, took Beorn hostage and killed him; when in 1051 Earl Godwin was sent into exile, Harold accompanied his father and helped him to regain his position a year later. Godwin died in 1053, Harold succeeded him as Earl of Wessex; this arguably made him the most powerful figure in England after the king. Harold became Earl of Hereford in 1058, replaced his late father as the focus of opposition to growing Norman influence in England under the restored monarchy of Edward the Confessor, who had spent more than 25 years in exile in Normandy.
He led a series of successful campaigns against Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of king of Wales. This conflict ended with Gruffydd's defeat and death in 1063. In 1064, Harold was shipwrecked at Ponthieu. There is much speculation about this voyage; the earliest post-conquest Norman chroniclers report that King Edward had sent Robert of Jumièges, Archbishop of Canterbury, to appoint as his heir Edward's maternal kinsman, William of Normandy, that at this date Harold was sent to swear fealty. Scholars disagree as to the reliability of this story. William, at least, seems to have believed he had been offered the succession, but there must have been some confusion either on William's part or by both men, since the English succession was neither inherited nor determined by the reigning monarch. Instead the Witenagemot, the assembly of the kingdom's leading notables, would convene after a king's death