View Full Version : Did Duke William visit England in 1051?

30-09-10, 22:03
Did duke William come to England in 1051 and meet with King Edward, his (very) distant kinsman?

Could he have risked leaving his [then] threatened duchy to his enemies in N. France, when he could have simply sent an embassy?

Norman sources never present William as seeking anything from Edward- but William did need something from him- while Edward only needed Norman ports closed to the recently-ousted earl Godwin, and against Count Baldwin of Flanders, where raiding vikings and English exiles had always been welcomed.

Version D- The Worcester Chronicle- of the ASC under 1052 for 1051 says William came in person with a huge guard and retinue- maybe then in person received Edward's 'promise' and also the exiled G's youngest son (Wulfnoth) and Hakon(Swein G's bastard) as hostages -as well as Dover town(prominent in the 1064 "Oath" according to the Normans).

Strangely, the hagiographical William of Poitiers and his namesake Jumieges, usually so keen to assert William's claims, never even mention that the visit happened?
Either William and his retinue weren't able to do so politico-militarily, or it didn't happen at that time, or at all?

If he did visit England in 1051- Were the English hostages now taken back to Wm in Normandy (Wulfnoth, Hakon)?
If Edward did offer William the crown, what would have been to his own advantage? ;-
• William became his vassal and owed him, as a king and lord, bound by service and loyalty.
• No Viking fleet would be received in Norman ports, to attack England, now exposed since Godwin had fled into exile.
• William could not, even also as Baldwin's ally, allow Godwin to use Norman ports. Edward might have even hoped for Wm's martial aid against Godwin or Flanders?

Or is William's supposed visit to meet Edward in England during 1051 a convenient 'cover story' concocted later by Norman historians in order to negate the similar, actual visit by William's then enemy around this exact time period, Count Eustace II of Boulogne?

"The Norman claim to the succession to the English throne originated in opportunism and is riddled with inconsistencies.
It would be unrealistic to suppose that King Edward, in consultation with his leading counsellors, offered Wulfnoth and Hakon- and only them- as hostages to ensure the fulfilment of a promise supposedly made by him with the consent of the witan, as William of Poitiers claimed after the Norman conquest.
Any English hostages would include kinsmen both of the king himself and of the other leading magnates. But if Edward really gave hostages as a guarantee of his good faith in bequeathing the throne to William, this implied that he was under constraint to make the promise. There is no reason to believe that this was the case.
On the contrary, in the highly unlikely event that King Edward did promise the succession to William, any hostages would have been required of the duke, to guarantee his good faith that he would not try to take over the kingdom in Edward's lifetime. There is no logical reason why the king should have made any such promise."
(Mason, ‘House of Godwin’ p.110).

I am curious, why is William's alledged 1051 visit to England not more detailed? And what is the relation of William and Count Eustace of Boulogne at this point?

Could it have been none other than Eustace in England in 1051 - later omitted from any popular Norman records due to disgrace after his 1067 revolt?

There was a campaign by the Normans in the late 1060's to disgrace this once sworn enemy of William (ie. Eustace's 'cowardice' at Senlac) and had more royal blood flowing through him than any other invader in 1066!

We know that Eustace did visit his kinsman (King Edward) in 1051 says the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which caused the exile of the Godwinsons. But, if he was William's vassal/ambassador to England in this era of William being to busy fighting at home to attend, whether he was not on a sub-agenda for himself or not, we will never know.