National Geographic : 1966 Aug
i$TIM 1 IRAUT L ° THESEMEN WONDER AT THE STAR HAROLD HEREAN ENGLISH SHIP A Blaze in the Heavens Strikes Terror-a Portent of the "Then over all England there was seen a sign in the skies such as had never been seen before. Some said it was the star 'comet' which some call the star with hair," records the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. In the spring, Halley's comet blazed across Europe. A courtier hastens to tell Harold to the Norman duke. Edward found himself opposed by the powerful Saxon earl, Godwin of Wessex, who with his several sons con trolled most of southern England. One of these sons was Harold, whose sister (Godwin's daughter Edith) had married the Confessor. But in 1051, when Earl Godwin and his sons revolted unsuccessfully, King Edward banished them from England. At about this time, he named William of Nor mandy his heir, with the assent of various magnates of the realm. The following year, however, the rebels returned to England and drove many of Ed ward's Norman adherents into exile. Now Edward's rule became largely nominal, and after the death of Earl Godwin, in 1053, Eng lishmen felt the power of Harold, who be gan to dream of succeeding his childless brother-in-law as king. When Edward died, who would wear his crown, Harold or William? One of the most notable combats in history lay ahead. To the victor would go a kingdom. Earl Harold Godwinson crossed the Chan nel, probably in 1064, from Bosham in Sussex to the Continent. Edward the Confessor, ac cording to chroniclers, sent him to confirm the Norman duke's right of succession to the Earthbound stars break the dusk at Rou en, the capital of upper Normandy on the banks of the twisting Seine. William held court here on many occasions; Joan of Arc met her death at the stake in the city's mar ketplace. France's tallest church spire, 495 228 feet, tops Rouen's glorious Gothic cathedral. KODACHROMEBY GEORGE F. MOBLEY ) N.G.S.