The inspiration behind the book


The Handfasted Wife Research


he Handfasted Wife was inspired by a visit to Bayeux in Normandy when I was Chair of The Launton Gavray Twinning Association. I was moved by the video which we were shown before viewing The Bayeux Tapestry.

Picture A: The Battle of Hastings.


he video told the historical story of how Edith Swan-Neck (Elditha) identified her husband’s ruined body on the battlefield at Hastings. I was also struck by the fact that only three women were shown on the Tapestry. Two of them were noblewomen. It seemed likely that the third woman who was fleeing from a burning house was noble also noble.

Picture B: The Burning House.






researched further in The Bodleian Library and found out that The Tapestry vignette of a BurningHouse depicting a woman and child fleeing this building before the battle may have depicted Harold’s beloved hand-fasted wife. I also discovered that according to the Chronicler John of Worcester their youngest child Ulf was taken as a child hostage to William’s court in Normandy. Picture C: Handfasting Image.


dith and Harold were handfasted in marriage in the Danish manner. Although it is supposed that their marriage was happy, he set her aside when he was crowned king and was able to do so because theirs was not a church wedding. Harold’s new marriage was to the sister of the Northern Earls Edwin and Morcar. Aldgyth was the widow of a king of Wales. Interestingly, Harold was responsible for her husband’s murder. This marriage was held to unite north and south in the face of potential invasions.  I considered that I had rediscovered a fascinating story of love, courage and loyalty; a story that is considered to be one of history’s legendary romantic tales. 

Picture D: Image of an 11thC House.