Harald Hardrada won at Stamford Bridge. He chose not to march on London, but to consolidate in the Danelaw.

William met weak resistance in the south. He was crowned king, but wasn’t able to attack Harald because of trouble in Normandy. He died in the 70’s and his successors encountered strong Marcher Lords. Efforts to rein in the northern ones were so unsuccessful that these lords generally came to align themselves with the Northumbrians.

Harald’s realm was strengthened by southern exiles. He also welcomed Norman adventurers (like the Scots in genuine history). Harald was succeeded by his son Olaf  ‘the peaceful’, who ruled until the 1090s. He lost control of Norway, which had an independent succession (in a similar way, although Normandy remained connected to the southern kingdom, it served more as a distraction and drain on resources, rather than as a strength and plays no part in this campaign).

Olaf’s son and successor was Magnus ‘Barelegs’, an ambitious sort, whose ambitions over the Isles using the Isle of Man as a springboard was the cause of this campaign. Magnus could see possibilities everywhere—he could seek to re-establish Norse influence in the Western Isles, Ireland or Wales. Or he could contest for control of England with the Normans, or try to extend Northumbrian influence into Scotland.

The Lords of the Welsh March were initially very successful, capitalizing on the political disorganization from the defeat of Gruffudd ap Llewelyn by Harold. However, in the 1090s the Welsh showed they had adapted to Norman tactics and Norman inroads were forced back on all fronts.

Norman weakness, compared to the actual history, is apparent in a number of ways. Failure to gain control of York meant control of the English church was divided. There was no Norman take-over in Northumbria, and the reform movement there was controlled by English churchmen, who on viewing the plight of their counterparts in the south became enthusiastic supporters of their Northumbrian rulers.

Another facet of their weakness was their inability to bring powerful Marcher rulers to heel. The kings alternately were too weak, distracted on other fronts, or were depending on them for security. The kings were never in a position to bring Welsh bishops in submission to Canterbury, and an independent church was an important bolster to the status of Welsh secular rulers.

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