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[[File: Hastings One.jpg|200px|thumb|left|alt text]]
==Reason for the Battle of Hastings ==
The background to Hastings was the death of Edward the Confessor, king of England from 1042-1066. He died without an heir and this as usual in the Middle Ages led to a succession crisis <ref> Lawson, M. K. The Battle of Hastings: 1066 (Stroud, UK: Tempus, 2002), p 12</ref>. There were two main contenders for the crown of England; Harold Godwinson, a member of one of the most powerful Anglo-Saxon families and Duke William of Normandy, the future William the Conqueror. William and his Normans were the descendants of Norse Vikings who had been given land in northern France and were largely independent of the French King. The Anglo-Saxon had been the brother-in-law of Edmund the Confessor. It is widely reported from sources at the time, the dying king made Harold his heir and left his widow and Kingdom in his care. However, there is a contradictory Norman account, and this holds that Edward the Confessor during a period of exile made Duke William his heir if he died childless. Historians have long debated which claim was the
legitimate and most believe that Harold was the heir of Edward the Successor. The story that Duke William was the legitimate successor of Edward, is most likely untrue and only Norman propaganda. Even if Edward had made him his heir he had almost certainly changed his mind before his death. Indeed, Harold had even been legitimately elected by the Witan the assembly of the Anglo-Saxons and they viewed him as the rightful ruler. King Harold II was defending his realm at the battle and William the Conqueror was an invader who had no real support in the wider country. The Battle of Hastings was not a result of William the Conqueror pursuing his legitimate claims to the Crown as stated in Norman sources but was a result of his naked ambitions<ref>Marren, Peter. 1066: The Battles of York, Stamford Bridge & Hastings. Battleground Britain. (Barnsley, UK: Leo Cooper, 2007), p. 113</ref>.
[[File: Hastings 2.jpg |200px|thumb|left|A scene from the Bayeux tapestry showing Norman knights charging the shield-wall]]