January 29th to February 4th
“I move very swiftly. Harold of Norway knows that, and so does Tostig my brother. They lie at ease at Stamford Bridge … ‘“Ay,” “ said De Aquila, all in a muse. “That man broke Harold of Norway at Stamford Bridge, and came near to breaking us at Santlache—all within one month.”
‘“But how did he come alive from Santlache fight?” asked the King. “Ask him! Hast thou heard it, Rahere?” ‘“Never. He says he has been stoned too often for telling the tale
This is from “The Tree of Justice ” in Rewards and Fairies (1910).
It is only some 35 years after the Norman conquest, and there is hatred between Normans and Saxons. Henry, a son of the Conqueror, is now King of England., and has been hunting in the forest, with Saxons as beaters. A Norman knight had called out derisively to the beaters, and a Saxon had called back against the Normans.
That evening the King asks who is responsible for that beater, an old Saxon. If guilty of treason he might be hanged from a tree. Rahere, the King’s jester.brings in the old man, who proves to be King Harold, who had recovered after the battle of Hastings (‘Santlache’) and wandered ever since as a witless pilgrim.
Before the invasion of 1066 Harold had promised the English crown to William of Normandy, a promise under duress that he did not keep. He had very nearly won the battle, as the barons present know. King Henry treats him with respect, and the dying Harold is neither mocked nor judged.