Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Friday, October 14, 2005

DKW: Harold Godwinson - the People's King?

Harold Godwinson is probably the most famous King of England - who was killed on 14th October 1066 at the Battle of Hastings - making this the 939th anniversary of his death.

He was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England - and therefore can be seen as the last 'true' King before the country got conquered by the Normans. Given during his short period on the throne he fought and died resisting foreign invaders - should English socialists give him critical support, and see him as the exception to the rule - the one good monarch, the people's King?

He was certainly seen that way by many chroniclers after his death - and from reading Wikipedia - admittedly not the most reliable source in the world - he sounds kind of cool. When King Harald Hardrada ("Hard Reign") of Norway claimed that he had the right to the throne and invaded England, Harold's brother asked him what land Harold was going to offer the king of Norway to placate him. "Six feet of ground or as much more as he needs, as he is taller than most men," was Harold's response. You have to respect macho talk like that sometimes.

Harold didn't just talk the talk either. When Hardrada proceeded to invade what is now Yorkshire in September, 1066, he defeated the English earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria at the Battle of Fulford near York (September 20). However, Harold sent his army up there and defeated them in turn five days later at the Battle of Stamford Bridge (September 25), before famously getting killed at the Battle of Hastings fighting the Normans.

So what do we think? Personally, I have caught whatever it was Ed Rooksby had a while back, some sort of flu thing - and am ill so I cannot really be bothered to do much thinking I am afraid. Also someone emailed me to tell me my comment boxes were not working - so feel free to test them by leaving a comment on Harold's 'objectively anti-imperialist' stance or whatever at the usual address. If you can't get the comment function to work - then email me if you like - but I doubt I will be able to fix it, so apologies in advance. I'll write about something other than Kings when I get the energy.



At 5:33 pm, Blogger Ed said...

I'm sorry to hear you're ill. You probably got it from me - ha ha ha.

Do you know the problem of whether or not one should give critical support to Harold never occurred to me before. Probably best not to raise this question too often, as it is exactly the sort of thing which can lead to schism and splits.

At 11:16 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Doesn't the question of whether Lenin's slogan of 'unconditional but critical support' fits for King Harold come up almost every week in your local Stop the War coalition meeting?

I thought it was a burning issue of the movement. Oh well. No wonder few Marxists have explored the question of permanent revolution in the medieval world, though, its explosive stuff...

Cheers for commenting - good to see my comments box is not broken!

At 10:12 pm, Blogger syndicalist81 said...

The burning debate for socialists across the pond is who to support in 1812: British North America or the United States?


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