Upon Edward the Confessor's death ([[January 5]], 1066), Harold claimed that Edward had promised him the crown on his deathbed, and the Witenagemot (the assembly of the kingdom's leading notables) approved him for coronation as king, which took place the following day, [[January 6]].
However, the country was invaded, by both Harald of Norway and William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, who claimed that he had been promised the English crown by both Edward (probably in 1052) and Harold, who had been shipwrecked in Ponthieu, Normandy in 1064 or 1065. It was alleged that, on the latter occasion, William forced Harold to swear to support his claim to the throne, only revealing after the event that the box on which he had made his oath contained holy relics. After Harold's death, Normans were quick to point out that in accepting the crown of England, Harold had perjured himself of this oath.
Invading what is now Yorkshire in September, 1066, Harald Hardrada and Tostig defeated the English earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria at the Battle of Fulford near York ([[September 20]]), but were in turn defeated and slain by Harold's army five days later at the Battle of Stamford Bridge ([[September 25]]).
===''Harold Rex Interfectus Est'': Harold's Defeat at Hastings===
[[Image:Harold_dies.jpg|right|thumb|300px|''Harold Rex Interfectus Est''<br>"King Harold is
After Harold had returned from his brilliant defeat of Harald of Norway in the north of England, he learned quickly of the Norman invasion. He'd been suspecting it for some time, but it fell hard on the heels of victory at Stamford Bridge that he would have to defend his country in the south, as well.