The Instigator
Atheist-Independent
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
JayConar
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

William the Conqueror had the right to invade Britain and become King of England

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Atheist-Independent
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/30/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,662 times Debate No: 65918
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (27)
Votes (3)

 

Atheist-Independent

Pro

This debate will follow the premise that William I (the Conqueror) of England had a legitimate claim on the Kingdom of England and therefore had the right to invade Britain. I will take the pro side of this premise.

This debate will follow a generic format with the first round being for acceptance only. I am keeping this debate impossible to accept, however I will likely open this up later on.

Good luck!
JayConar

Con

Acceptance
Debate Round No. 1
Atheist-Independent

Pro

ARGUMENT
My opening argument for this round will be a bit short, so there will be none of my cherished subdivisions. Instead, before I get into the specifics of my argument, I would like to give a brief description of the history involved with this debate. This is to serve as a reference for any reader who may feel confused by the topic.


In 1051 AD, King Edward (or Eadwaerd) of England was nearing death and was unfortunately childless. Aware that he would have to decide on his heir, Edward decided to appoint the Duke of Normandy, William, as his successor. This was a controversial decision due to the fact that William was a Norman, essentially a French Viking, while the majority of England was still Anglo-Saxon. Previously, The Earl Godwin of Hereford, Edward's brother-in-law, had been the appointed heir. However, by 1051 Edward and Godwin's relationship had turned south and the King decided to look elsewhere for an heir. By 1053 Godwin was dead and his son, Harold Godwinson, became the Earl of Hereford. Harold managed to gain a large amount of influence over the King and by 1066 he had managed to secure himself as the heir to the English throne, beating out both William, Edward the Exile, and Edgar the Æthling. On the 6th of January, 1066 Harold became King of England. However, William felt that Harold had no right to be King and planned for an invasion of England. Before William could land in England, however, Norwegian King Harald Haradrada, along with Harold's rebellious brother Tostig, invaded Northern England in September. Harold managed to defeat the Norwegian troops after Harald died in battle. Now William finally managed to land in the town of Hastings. There, the Normans closely defeated the Anglo-Saxons after Harold was shot in the eye with an arrow, therefore establishing William as King of England [1].

For my argument I will present two primary arguments. Keep note that this debate is focused on the legality of William's conquest, not the morality nor the result of William's coronation.

1. William had a superior claim in comparison to Harold's
The death of Edward the Confessor in 1066 presented England with a massive problem. The king had died childless, and he also had no truly direct relatives who could take the throne. Æthelred the Unready, Edward's father, had had two other sons, Alfred Æthling and Edred. The former died in 1036 while the ladder died in 1042 [2]. Neither had any children. Edward the Exile, Edward's heir had been discovered living in Hungary after his father had been defeated by Canute the Great, yet he too unfortunately had died in 1057 [3]. Therefore there were very few close descendants to Edward and William's albeit generally weak claim, held a significant amount of influence. On the contrary, Harold Godwinson was in no way related to King Edward. He was the son of Edward's brother-in-law, Earl Godwin, and therefore had no blood relation with the House of Wessex [4].


If we look at the following graph shows the relations of both Harold and William to King Edward.




We can see that William clearly has a greater claim on the English throne than Harold does. Therefore it is logical to say that William had every right to invade England once Harold had proclaimed himself king. I predict that a counter-argument to this would be that there were certainly closer related relatives to Edward at the time. However, this has no relation to the premise of the debate. Using the logic of the nobility during the Middle Ages, a man (probably not a woman, although possible) had the natural born right to press their claim militarily if they have a stronger claim than the man who currently holds that title. Therefore if a closer relative such as Edgar the Æthling had claimed the throne before Harold Godwinson could, William would not legally have the right to invade England. Fortunately for our illegitimate Duke, this was not the case and he therefore had every right.

The primary rebuttal to this, however, would be that Edward the Confessor had legally designated Harold as his heir and therefore William had no claim outside of his vague relation to the House of Wessex. This argument is flawed on multiple regards. For one, we are not certain whether or not the King actually appointed Harold as his heir. One story called Vita Edwardi claims that Harold had been appointed heir on Edward's deathbed. However, this is likely a mere work of fiction and there is no evidence to support that this was a real historical event. The reality of the situation is much more grim. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles it uses the phrase "...designated, elected, and anointed..." to describe Harold's ascent to the throne. This implies that at the time Harold's coronation seemed to be somewhat suspicious during the time of this writing [5]. Another thing that is suspicious regarding Harold's coronation is that Harold took the throne instantly after Edward's death. At this time their was always a period of time in between the death of the old king and the crowning of another. Therefore it can be presumed that Harold was nervous that someone with a better claim, such as Edgar the Æthling or William, would arrive and take the throne. He only would have been nervous had he not had an official statement that proclaimed himself the heir to Edward the Confessor.

One last point that I would like to present in this section (even though it doesn't really fit) is that Harold allegedly gave William his oath that he would support William's claim to the English throne no matter what [6]. This certainly harms Harold's case as he clearly betrayed this oath and claimed the crown for himself. This alone could grant William a claim to invade England even without all the other reasons provided. The only flaw with this point is that historians have been unable to confirm whether or not this oath was real.

2. Papal Authority
Another major aspect that grants William an advantage is that he had Papal authority from Pope Alexander II to invade and become king of England. So as to make this easier for both the readers and myself, I would like to quote a writer for Catholic Encyclopedia, Charles Herbermann [6]:


"In 1066, he [Pope Alexander II] entertained an embassy from the Duke of Normandy Guillaume II, Guillaume le Bâtard,(after his successful invasion of Brittany), (later known as William the Conqueror). The embassy had been sent to obtain his blessing for the Norman conquest of England. This he gave to them, giving them a papal ring, the Standard of St. Peter,[6] and a papal edict to present to the English clergy saying that William was given the papal blessing for his bid to the throne. These favours were instrumental in the submission of the English church following the Battle of Hastings.

While I personally believe that this changes nothing regarding the morality of William's invasion, it is hugely essential for the people involved. In Harold's point of view, fighting against William means fighting against the Papacy who represent god. Therefore it is hugely influention for William to have papal permission. It does also support the legality of William's claim as the Pope supposadely had been granted the powers of allowing invasions and therefore William's attack on England, if not right, is legal.

Back over to you, my Anglo-Saxon loving opponent.


JayConar

Con

Thank you, A-I, for, again, allowing me to debate you on an interesting historical topic. Let us begin.

Harold Godwineson

I would like to start not by putting my argument forwards, but instead by addressing a historical matter.

My opponent asserts thusly:

'There, the Normans closely defeated the Anglo-Saxons after Harold was shot in the eye with an arrow, therefore establishing William as King of England.'

This is true in all but one respect. That is, we have no evidence that Harold is the one that was shot in the eye with an arrow.

Here is the Bayeux tapestry (although it's not actually a tapestry), which depicts the battle:



As you may be able to see here, underneath the latin words 'Harold Rex interfectus est' (meaning 'Here King Harold has been killed') there is are three men. One of these men, has an arrow in his eye. However, that does not mean that that man is, in fact, King Harold. Indeed, the most detailed account that we have of this battle is by William De Poitiers and he states that King Harold [1]'fighting in the front rank of his army, fell covered in deadly wounds.' There is no mention of the 'arrow in the eye.' It should also be noted that the arrow was made more prominent in 1730 by restorers, thus it was not necessarily meant to have been an arrow and may have just been stitch marks.

At the end of the day, however, this does not necessarily matter, as it is true that King Harold DID die that day in the battle of Hastings. However, if you want to read more about it, check out my first source.

Anyway, on to the debate.

Harold's pledge

My opponent asserts thusly:

'One last point that I would like to present in this section ... is that Harold allegedly gave William his oath that he would support William's claim to the English throne no matter what.'

My opponent has taken this apparent 'oath' out of context. In [2]1064, Harold Godwinson was taken prisoner off after being shipwrecked off the coast of Normandy. In payment for being allowed to go back home for England, William, the duke of Normandy, made Harold swear an oath to him that he would support his claim on England. As this oath was made under duress, it can easily be seen as legally invalid.

Other arguments

My opponent makes various spurious claims about promises (from King Edward) and backing (from the pope), however, none of this has anything to do with whether or not King William had a legal claim on the Kingdom of England. The fact is that King Edward, despite being King at the time, was in no legal position to offer the throne to anybody or to designate his own heir. At the time, the succession laws followed the primogeniture structure (this is defined as:[3] 'the right of succession belonging to the firstborn child, especially the feudal rule by which the whole real estate of an intestate passed to the eldest son'). It would thusly have been the [4]Witan that decided who Edward's rightful heir should have been.

My opponent mentions the Papal Banner offered to William in 1066 by the pope as justification and support for a Norman invasion of England. However, this Papal Banner was given on false pretenses as the Pope believed that Godwin had been consecrated by Archbishop Stigand, whom had been excommunicated. This was not the case and was merely a twisting of the facts by William of Normandy. In fact, Harold was consecrated by the Archbishop of York, whom later carried out the same ceremony on William the Conquerer himself. Thus, the papal banner was offered on false pretenses and therefore, had the pope been aware of the facts, it can be said with reasonable confidence that it would not have been issued at all.


Does this mean that King Harold II was the rightful King of England? Well, no, no it doesn't. However the Duke of Normandy did not have a legal claim of any sort on the English throne either. In fact, the best claimant of the throne is probably a man named 'Sweyn Estridson,' whom was directly descended from two previous Kings of England, he was Canute's nephew and Sweyn Forkbeard's grandson. However, he never pressed his claim due to problems in his own country.

To sum up my argument, the only people able to agree to appoint somebody to be King of England were the Witan, and they categorically did not claim King William as their King until William invaded illegally and claimed the title at the point of a lance. It's also interesting to point out that Kings of England had to be 'acclaimed' by the people. The people of London tried to do this after King William invaded, but the Normans thought it was a rebellion and so sent the troops out to slaughter them.

I think I have rebutted everything, over to you, Pro!

(P.S. I might be wrong here, but I don't think Britain existed in 1066.)



Sources:

[1] http://www.bayeux-tapestry.org.uk...
[2]http://www.normaninvasion.info...
[3]http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
[4]http://www.battle1066.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Atheist-Independent

Pro

REBUTTAL

Although I did not intend for the second round for rebuttals, as I did not explicitly state so I suppose I can't complain. Let's move on to my own rebuttals, shall we?


My opponent starts off his argument by disproving, or at least challenging the idea that Harold Godwinson was shot in the eye with an arrow. While this is all very interesting, it is somewhat unrelated to the debate premise, so I won't discuss it any further.

I understand the point about the legitimacy of Harold's oath. If it was even an actual historical event, the conditions in which Harold gave the oath are irrelevant. In simpler terms, even though it is possible that Harold gave the oath under duress, the legality of the oath does not change. Therefore Harold legally did not have the right to take the throne because he had already given his word to support William's claim.

On to the next point. I agree with my opponent that Edward was not in a good condition to announce his heir. He then goes on to claim that the heir should have been the closest male heir, NOT William. This also is true, however the problem is that a direct male heir did not become king of England. Since Harold, who as I showed was not even related to the House of Wessex, took the throne, William had every right to invade England because he had a better claim, albeit marginally so. In fact, anybody with even the slightest claim on throne had the legal right to remove Harold from the throne and establish themselves into that position.

As for the Papal Banner, the rebuttal is fairly similar to the point about Harold's oath. Although the Pope may have been misinformed about the situation in England, the only thing that matters is that he gave William the Banner. Due to the fact that he did grant William the right to invade England, William legally could do so.

P.S. Britain just accounts for the island of Britain, not the country.
JayConar

Con

Re-rebuttal (whoops)

First, I'd like to apologise about rebutting too soon, I didn't realise (whoops).

My opponent states thusly:

'In simpler terms, even though it is possible that Harold gave the oath under duress, the legality of the oath does not change. Therefore Harold legally did not have the right to take the throne because he had already given his word to support William's claim. '

However, my opponent provides no proof that the legality of the oath does not change due to the context of Harold being under duress. Harold Godwinson stated the fact that his oath was taken under duress as a valid reason for not following it, therefore he evidently thought that the oath being taken under duress made it illegal. As did, apparently, all the barons at the time, none of whom revolted when he took power.

My opponent states that Harold was not related to the house of Wessex, however he was related to it through marriage. My opponent recognised this fact in an earlier round: 'He was the son of Edward's brother-in-law, Earl Godwin, and therefore had no blood relation with the House of Wessex.' No blood relation, however there is still a relation as Harold is King Edward's brother-in-law. This definitely gives Harold a claim to the throne which is definitely helped by his coming from an incredibly powerful family in England. Thus, when Harold was acclaimed to be the King of England, he was the 'rightful' King and thus William, the Duke of Normandy, had no legal claim on the title.

My opponent also states: 'As for the Papal Banner, the rebuttal is fairly similar to the point about Harold's oath. Although the Pope may have been misinformed about the situation in England, the only thing that matters is that he gave William the Banner. Due to the fact that he did grant William the right to invade England, William legally could do so.'

This is fairly similar to the rebuttal about the point about the point about Harold's oath. My opponent provides no proof that the Pope's being misinformed about the situation didn't make the papal banner invalid. In fact, if the Pope had known about the fact that the duke of Normandy was outrightly lying to the arbiter of the catholic church (i.e. the pope), he may well have been excommunicated, which definitely would have taken away any possible claim the duke could have to any landed titles let alone a kingship.

This has been an interesting debate, any idea's what we should do next? Leave suggestions in the comments!
Debate Round No. 3
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Oliark 2 years ago
Oliark
@lannan
"Sources go to Pro considering that he had used more sources in the debate."
Seriously ? xD
While I'm happy that Atheist-Independent received a vote... I do not find your Quantity of sources RFD justified. Besides, If you look closer, 3-4 of Pro 7 sources are used to relate historical events not to back arguments.
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
This was a great educational debate. I loved it.
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Atheist-Independent
I agree. I'll try to find some more voters in the mean time.
Posted by JayConar 2 years ago
JayConar
Me and A-I both thoroughly enjoy debating each other on Historical matters. However, we tend to not get that many votes on some of our debates. I'm assuming that's because some of them tend to be quite long, so any votes are very much appreciated. A-I is by far the most challenging debater I've debated on this site and he has knowledge and intelligence beyond his years, which makes debating him way more fun! :) Thank you for your vote mate
Posted by Oliark 2 years ago
Oliark
@Pro
Your arguments and historical research were great and I really enjoy reading your historical debates. Just for that you really do not deserve to lose.... So my first instinct was to vote for a tie...
but then I assumed from your comments that neither of you wanted a tie. So I tried to search for the for the slightest advantage on either side...
Posted by JayConar 2 years ago
JayConar
I'll post this debate in the forums tomorrow
Posted by JayConar 2 years ago
JayConar
Hmmm :/
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Atheist-Independent
Still no real votes...
Posted by JayConar 2 years ago
JayConar
LostInTheEcho, I would sort have liked a slightly longer RFD
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Atheist-Independent
Yes, what for exactly?
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
Atheist-IndependentJayConarTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources go to Pro concidering that he had used more sources in the debate. 7-4, 7-5 if you count the picture. Now for the arguments section this was hard for me to decide. Pro definitely proved that he had Papal authority to invade England, but the relationship is where the debate gets into the grey area. I feel like for the most part that both canidates were related to the House of Wessaux, but William had direct bloodline while Harold only married into it, So with that I have to give the arguments to Pro.
Vote Placed by Oliark 2 years ago
Oliark
Atheist-IndependentJayConarTied
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Reasons for voting decision: After reading the entire debate about 5 times i've decided to vote for Con. Con had the winning argument (the Witan authority to appoint the King) However Con victory is very marginal as he failed to extend this winning argument. Here is my analysis of your points : - Oath : Private contract between two individuals, there is reasonable doubt over its validity. TIE - Hereditary succession : Pro proved that William was a blood relative of Edward the Confessor, however hereditary succession was a only a custom in Anglo-Saxon England which was supposed to be an elective monarchy. - Witan : The witan can be considered a constitutional body, its legal authority is superior to customary law. So event if recent feudal tradition of hereditary succession was "de facto" law, the witan could legally pick anyone to be the king (de jure). - Papal Authority: Even if the Pope authorized the invasion, The Pope had no authority to "give" William the throne.
Vote Placed by LostintheEcho1498 2 years ago
LostintheEcho1498
Atheist-IndependentJayConarTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I have seen many debates and think this is the first I am calling a draw. Both gave excellent arguments/rebuttals. Good job guys.