Biography of Morcar Earl Northumbria -1087
Paternal Family Tree: Mercia
Morcar Earl Northumbria was born to Ælfgar Earl of Mercia and East Anglia.
Around 1060 [his father] Ælfgar Earl of Mercia and East Anglia died.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1065. Soon after this all the thanes in Yorkshire and in Northumberland gathered themselves together at York, and outlawed their Earl Tosty (age 39); slaying all the men of his clan that they could reach, both Danish and English; and took all his weapons in York, with gold and silver, and all his money that they could anywhere there find. They then sent after Morkar, son of [his father] Earl Elgar, and chose him for their earl. He went south with all the shire, and with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and Lincolnshire, till he came to Northampton, Northamptonshire [Map]; where his brother [his brother] Edwin came to meet him with the men that were in his earldom. Many Britons also came with him. Harold (age 43) also there met them; on whom they imposed an errand to King Edward (age 62), sending also messengers with him, and requesting that they might have Morcar for their earl. This the king granted; and sent back Harold (age 43) to them, to Northampton, on the eve of St. Simon and St. Jude; and announced to them the same, and confirmed it by hand, and renewed there the laws of Knute. But the Northern men did much harm about Northampton, whilst he went on their errand: either that they slew men, and burned houses and corn; or took all the cattle that they could come at; which amounted to many thousands. Many hundred men also they took, and led northward with them; so that not only that shire, but others near it were the worse for many winters.
In Oct 1065 Morcar Earl Northumbria was appointed Earldorman Northumbria.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1066. When the ships were come home, then came Harald, King of Norway (age 51), north into the Tine, unawares, with a very great sea-force-no small one; that might be, with three hundred ships or more; and Earl Tosty (age 40) came to him with all those that he had got; just as they had before said: and they both then went up with all the fleet along the Ouse toward York.89 When it was told King Harold (age 44) in the south, after he had come from the ships, that Harald, King of Norway (age 51), and Earl Tosty (age 40) were come up near York, then went he northward by day and night, as soon as he could collect his army. But, ere King Harold (age 44) could come thither, the Earls [his brother] Edwin and Morkar had gathered from their earldoms as great a force as they could get, and fought with the enemy.90 They made a great slaughter too; but there was a good number of the English people slain, and drowned, and put to flight: and the Northmen had possession of the field of battle. It was then told Harold, king of the English (age 44), that this had thus happened. And this fight was on the eve of St. Matthew the apostle, which was Wednesday.
Note 89. Not only the twelve smacks with which he went into Scotland during the summer, as before stated, but an accession of force from all quarters.
Note 90. On the north bank of the Ouse, according to Florence of Worcester; the enemy having landed at Richale (now "Riccal"). Simeon of Durham names the spot "Apud Fulford," i.e. Fulford-water, south of the city of York.
John of Worcester. 20 Sep 1066. After these transactions, Harold Harfaager (age 51), king of Norway, brother [Note. maternal half-brother] of St. Olave the king, suddenly arrived at the mouth of the river Tyne [Map], with a powerful fleet of more than five hundred great ships. Earl Tosti (age 40) joined him with his fleet, as they had before agreed, and they made all sail into the Humber; and then ascending the river Tyne against the current, landed their troops at a place called Richale. As soon as king Harold (age 44) received this news, he marched with all expedition towards Northumbria; but, before the king's arrival, the two brothers, earls [his brother] Edwin and Morcar, at the head of a large army, fought a battle with the Norwegians on the northern bank of the river Ouse, near York, on the eve of the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle [20th September], being Wednesday; and their first onset was so furious that numbers of the enemy fell before it. But, after a long struggle, the English, unable to withstand the attack of the Norwegians, fled with great loss, and many more of them were drowned in the river than slain in the fight. The Norwegians remained in possession of the field of death; and, having taken one hundred and fifty hostages from York, and leaving there one hundred and fifty hostages of their own, returned to their ships.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1066. Meantime Earl William (age 38) came up from Normandy into Pevensey [Map] on the eve of St. Michael's mass; and soon after his landing was effected, they constructed a castle at the port of Hastings. This was then told to King Harold (age 44); and he gathered a large force, and came to meet him at the estuary of Appledore. William, however, came against him unawares, ere his army was collected; but the king, nevertheless, very hardly encountered him with the men that would support him: and there was a great slaughter made on either side. There was slain King Harold (age 44), and Leofwin (age 31) his brother, and Earl Girth (age 34) his brother, with many good men: and the Frenchmen gained the field of battle, as God granted them for the sins of the nation. Archbishop Aldred and the corporation of London were then desirous of having child Edgar (age 15) to king, as he was quite natural to them; and [his brother] Edwin and Morkar promised them that they would fight with them. But the more prompt the business should ever be, so was it from day to day the later and worse; as in the end it all fared. This battle was fought on the day of Pope Calixtus: and Earl William returned to Hastings, and waited there to know whether the people would submit to him. But when he found that they would not come to him, he went up with all his force that was left and that came since to him from over sea, and ravaged all the country that he overran, until he came to Berkhampstead; where Archbishop Aldred came to meet him, with child Edgar, and Earls (age 15) Edwin and Morkar, and all the best men from London; who submitted then for need, when the most harm was done. It was very ill-advised that they did not so before, seeing that God would not better things for our sins. And they gave him hostages and took oaths: and he promised them that he would be a faithful lord to them; though in the midst of this they plundered wherever they went.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1066. This year came King Harold (age 44) from York to Westminster, on the Easter succeeding the midwinter when the king (Edward) died. Easter was then on the sixteenth day before the calends of May. Then was over all England such a token seen as no man ever saw before. Some men said that it was the comet-star, which others denominate the long-hair'd star. It appeared first on the eve called "Litania major", that is, on the eighth before the calends off May; and so shone all the week. Soon after this came in Earl Tosty (age 40) from beyond sea into the Isle of Wight [Map], with as large a fleet as he could get; and he was there supplied with money and provisions. Thence he proceeded, and committed outrages everywhere by the sea-coast where he could land, until he came to Sandwich, Kent [Map]. When it was told King Harold (age 44), who was in London, that his brother Tosty (age 40) was come to Sandwich, Kent [Map], he gathered so large a force, naval and military, as no king before collected in this land; for it was credibly reported that Earl William from Normandy (age 38), King Edward's (age 63) cousin, would come hither and gain this land; just as it afterwards happened. When Tosty (age 40) understood that King Harold (age 44) was on the way to Sandwich, Kent [Map], he departed thence, and took some of the boatmen with him, willing and unwilling, and went north into the Humber with sixty skips; whence he plundered in Lindsey [Map], and there slew many good men. When the Earls [his brother] Edwin and Morkar understood that, they came hither, and drove him from the land. And the boatmen forsook him. Then he went to Scotland with twelve smacks; and the king of the Scots entertained him, and aided him with provisions; and he abode there all the summer. There met him Harold, King of Norway (age 51), with three hundred ships. And Tosty (age 40) submitted to him, and became his man.87 Then came King Harold (age 44)88 to Sandwich, Kent [Map], where he awaited his fleet; for it was long ere it could be collected: but when it was assembled, he went into the Isle of Wight [Map], and there lay all the summer and the autumn. There was also a land-force every where by the sea, though it availed nought in the end. It was now the nativity of St. Mary, when the provisioning of the men began; and no man could keep them there any longer. They therefore had leave to go home: and the king rode up, and the ships were driven to London; but many perished ere they came thither.
Note 87. These facts, though stated in one MS. only, prove the early cooperation of Tosty with the King of Norway. It is remarkable that this statement is confirmed by Snorre, who says that Tosty was with Harald, the King of Norway, in all these expeditions. Vid "Antiq. Celto-Scand." p. 204.
Note 88. i.e. Harold, King of England; "our" king, as we find him. Afterwards called in B iv., to distinguish him from Harald, King of Norway.
John of Worcester. 24 Apr 1066. The same year a comet was seen on the eighth of the calends of May [24th April], not only in England, but, as it is reported, all over the world: it shone with excessive brilliance for seven days. Soon afterwards earl Tosti (age 40) returned from Flanders, and landed in the Isle of Wight [Map]; and, having compelled the islanders to give him pay and tribute, he departed, and plundered along the sea-coast, until he arrived at Sandwich, Kent [Map]. King Harold (age 44), who was then at London, having been informed of this, ordered a considerable fleet and a body of horse to be got ready, and prepared to go in person to the port of Sandwich, Kent [Map]. On receiving this intelligence, Tosti (age 40) took some of the boatmen of the place, willing or unwilling, into his service, and, departing thence, shaped his course for Lindsey [Map], where he burnt several vills and slew a number of men. Thereupon [his brother] Edwin, earl of Mercia, and Morcar, earl of Northumbria, flew to the spot with some troops, and drove him out of that neighbourhood; and, on his departure, he repaired to Malcolm (age 35), king of the Scots, and remained with him during the whole summer. Meanwhile king Harold (age 44) arrived at the port of Sandwich, Kent [Map], and waited there for his fleet. When it was assembled, he sailed to the Isle of Wight [Map]; and as William (age 38), earl of Normandy, king Edward's cousin, was preparing an army for the invasion of England, he kept watch all the summer and autumn, to prevent his landing; besides which, he stationed a land army at suitable points along the sea-coast; but provisions failing towards the time of the feast of the Nativity of St. Mary [8th September], both the fleet and army were disbanded.
John of Worcester. Sep 1066. Meanwhile, earl William (age 38) was laying waste Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Middlesex, and Herefordshire, and ceased not from burning vills and slaughtering the inhabitants, until he came to a vill called Beorcham, where Aldred, the archbishop, Wulfstan (age 58), bishop of Worcester, Walter, bishop of Hereford, Edgar (age 15) the etheling, the earls [his brother] Edwin and Morcar, and some Londoners of the better sort, with many others, met him, and, giving hostages, made their submission, and swore fealty to him; but, although he concluded a treaty with them, he still allowed his troops to burn and pillage the vills. The feast of our Lord's Nativity approaching, he marched the whole army to London that he might be proclaimed king there; and as Stigand, the primate of all England, lay under the censure of the apostolical pope for not having obtained the pall canonically, he was anointed by Aldred, archbishop of York, with great ceremony, at Westminster, on Christmas-day, which that year fell on a Monday; having first, as the archbishop required, sworn before the altar of St. Peter the apostle, in the presence of the clergy and people, to protect the holy churches of God and their governors, and to rule the whole nation subject to him with justice and kingly providence, to make and maintain just laws, and straitly to forbid every sort of rapine and all unrighteous judgements.
Flowers of History. Before 25 Dec 1066. William, Duke of Normandy (age 38), proceeded to the city of London, was received with great exultation by both clergy and people, and was proclaimed king by universal acclamation, and on the day of the birth of our Lord he received the crown of the kingdom of England from Aeldred, archbishop of York. For he refused to accept the office of consecration from Stigand archbishop of Canterbury, although of ancient right that solemn office is known to belong to that see, because he had no legal right to occupy that pre-eminent dignity. Then, haying received homage and the oath of fealty, and hostages likewise, from the nobles, and being confirmed in his kingdom, be became the terror of all those who had aspired to the kingdom. And having arranged his affairs in the different cities and castles, and having placed his own servants in them, he sailed back to Normandy [Map] with the English hostages, and with inestimable treasures. And, when he put the hostages in prison, and committed them to the custody of safe keepers, he returned again to England, where he distributed with a liberal hand the estates and possessions of the Epglish among his Norman comrades who had helped him to subdue the country in the battle of Hastings; expelling all the legitimate owners successively, and becoming a tyrant rather than a king, he burdened the little that remained to them with the yoke of perpetual slavery. And when he saw himself now raised to such a lofty dignity, and confirmed in his proud kingdom, he became rapidly changed into another man; and, alas ! alas ! trampled under foot the nobles of the land, whom their hereditary blood had elevated from the times of old. And the nobles of the kingdom being indignant at this, fled, some of them to Malcolm, king of Scotland (age 35), others, preferring to end their unhappy lives rather than to endure a shameful slavery, sought the desert places and woods, and there living the life of wild beasts, and repenting of having made submission to the Normans, and being weighed down as to their inmost hearts with violent grief, though it was now too late, had recourse to the only hope left them, and prepared secret plots and intrigues. But the noble counts, the brothers [his brother] Edwin and Morcar, and many other nobles, and many also of the bishops and clergy and many others, whom it would take too long to enumerate by name, when they saw that theirs was the weaker side, and as they disdained to become slaves, abandoned England altogether.
John of Worcester. Sep 1066. Harold (age 44) reigned nine months and as many days. The earls [his brother] Edwin and Morcar, who had withdrawn with their troops from the battle on hearing that he was dead, went to London, and sent off their sister, queen [his sister] Elgitha (age 42), to Chester; but Aldred, archbishop of York, and the earls just mentioned, with the citizens of London and the seamen, were desirous to proclaim Edgar (age 15) the etheling king, he being nephew of king Edmund Ironside; and promised that they would renew the war under his banner. But while many were preparing to go forth to battle, the earls withdrew their support, and returned home with their army.
On 25 Sep 1066 King Harold II of England (age 44), supported by the brothers [his brother] Edwin Earl of Mercia and Morcar Earl Northumbria, defeated the Viking army at the Battle of Stamford Bridge at Stamford Bridge [Map].
King Harald Hardrada III of Norway (age 51) was killed. His son Magnus II King Norway (age 18) succeeded King Norway.
Tostig Godwinson Earl Northumbria (age 40) was killed.
John of Worcester. 1067. Lent drawing near [21st February], king William (age 39) returned to Normandy, taking with him Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury, Athelnoth, abbot of Glastonbury, Edgar (age 16) the etheling, the earls [his brother] Edwin and Morcar, Waltheof, son of earl Siward, the noble Ethelnoth, reeve of Kent, and many others of the chief men of England; leaving his brother Odo, bishop of Bayeux, and William Fitz-Osborne, whom he had created earl of Hereford, governors of England, with orders to build strong castles in suitable places.
John of Worcester. After 24 Jun 1070. Ethelwine, bishop of Durham, was taken by king William's (age 42) retainers, and thrown into prison, where, refusing all food in the depth of his distress, he died of grief and starvation.80 On the death of Siward, bishop of Rochester, Arnostus, a monk of Bee, succeeded him, and was himself succeeded by Gundulf, a monk of the same church.
Note 80. The death of Ethelwine is here anticipated, as we find him the following year with Morcar, Hereward (age 35), and their associates at Ely, and thrown into prison at Abingdon, where he died.
John of Worcester. 1071. Earls [his brother] Edwin and Morcar escaped secretly from king William's (age 43) court, finding that he intended to arrest them, and they were for some time in arms against him; but seeing that their enterprise was not successful, Edwin resolved to go to Malcolm (age 39), king of the Scots, but, during the journey, he fell into an ambuscade laid by his own people, and was killed. Morcar and Ethelwine, bishop of Durham, Siward, surnamed Barn, and Hereward (age 36), a man of great bravery, with many others, took ship and went to the Isle of Ely [Map], intending to winter there. The king, hearing of this, blocked up every outlet on the eastern side of the island by means of his boatmen, and caused a bridge, two miles long, to be constructed on the western side. When they saw that they were thus shut in, they resisted no longer, and all surrendered themselves to the king, except the brave Hereward (age 36), who escaped through the fens with a few others. The king immediately sent bishop Ethelwine to Abingdon, where he was imprisoned, and died the same winter. The earl and the rest were dispersed in various parts of England, some being placed in confinement, and others set at liberty with the loss of their hands or eyes.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1071. This year [his brother] Earl Edwin and Earl Morkar fled out93, and roamed at random in woods and in fields. Then went Earl Morkar to Ely by ship; but Earl Edwin was treacherously slain by his own men. Then came Bishop Aylwine, and Siward Barn, and many hundred men with them, into Ely. When King William (age 43) heard that, then ordered he out a naval force and land force, and beset the land all about, and wrought a bridge, and went in; and the naval force at the same time on the sea-side. And the outlaws then all surrendered; that was, Bishop Aylwine, and Earl Morkar, and all that were with them; except Hereward (age 36)94 alone, and all those that would join him, whom he led out triumphantly. And the king (age 43) took their ships, and weapons, and many treasures;95 and all the men he disposed of as he thought proper. Bishop Aylwine he sent to Abingdon [Map], where he died in the beginning of the winter.
Note 93. i.e.-threw off their allegiance to the Norman usurper, and became voluntary outlaws. The habits of these outlaws, or, at least, of their imitators and descendants in the next century, are well described in the romance of "Ivanhoe"
Note 94. The author of the Gallo-Norman poem printed by Sparke elevates his diction to a higher tone, when describing the feasts of this same Hereward (age 36), whom he calls "le uthlage hardi."
Note 95. Or much "coin"; many "scaettae"; such being the denomination of the silver money of the Saxons.
After 1087 Morcar Earl Northumbria died.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Then on midwinter's day Archbishop Aldred hallowed him to king at Westminster, and gave him possession with the books of Christ, and also swore him, ere that he would set the crown on his head, that he would so well govern this nation as any before him best did, if they would be faithful to him. Nevertheless he laid very heavy tribute on men, and in Lent went over sea to Normandy, taking with him Archbishop Stigand, and Abbot Aylnoth of Glastonbury, and the child Edgar, and the Earls [his brother] Edwin, Morkar, and Waltheof, and many other good men of England. Bishop Odo and Earl William lived here afterwards, and wrought castles widely through this country, and harassed the miserable people; and ever since has evil increased very much. May the end be good, when God will! In that same expedition92 was Leofric, Abbot of Peterborough; who sickened there, and came home, and died soon after, on the night of Allhallow-mass. God honour his soul! In his day was all bliss and all good at Peterborough. He was beloved by all; so that the king gave to St. Peter and him the abbey at Burton, and that at Coventry, which the [his grandfather] Earl Leofric, who was his uncle, had formerly made; with that of Croyland, and that of Thorney. He did so much good to the minster of Peterborough [Map], in gold, and in silver, and in shroud, and in land, as no other ever did before him, nor any one after him. But now was Gilden-borough become a wretched borough. The monks then chose for abbot Provost Brand, because he was a very good man, and very wise; and sent him to Edgar Etheling, for that the land-folk supposed that he should be king: and the etheling received him gladly. When King William heard say that, he was very wroth, and said that the abbot had renounced him: but good men went between them, and reconciled them; because the abbot was a good man. He gave the king forty marks of gold for his reconciliation; and he lived but a little while after-only three years. Afterwards came all wretchedness and all evil to the minster. God have mercy on it!
Note 92. i.e. in the expedition against the usurper William.