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The Last Great Saxon Earls, Part Two
‘Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King's most trusted advisor, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor's death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of England not of royal blood. Yet Harold was only a man, and his rise in fortune was not blameless. Like any person aspiring to power, he made choices he wasn't particularly proud of. Unfortunately, those closest to him sometimes paid the price of his fame.’
This is the second volume of Mercedes Rochelle’s Last Great Saxon Earls series. I had read the first, Godwine Kingmaker, and enjoying this period of extreme change for English History, went on to read this second instalment.
This episode of 11th Century history focuses on two sons of Godwine, Earl of Wessex. Harold, known for the 1066 Battle of Hastings, and Tostig, known for treachery at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, shortly before that other, most famous battle.
Tostig is awarded the Earldom of effectively, all of Northern England. Harold is Edward the Confessor’s right-hand-man in the South. The two brothers are bitter rivals.
Mercedes Rochelle uses separate segments for each brother to tell his view-point, and as the reader we can never be certain whether they are telling the truth or not, particularly relevant when William of Normandy makes his entrance.
© Mary Chapple
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