Berkhamsted Castle - Photo © Chris Reynolds, 8 March 2012
The next distinct episode in the process of conquest occurred at a place called by the Worcester Chronicle "Beorcham," where allegiance was sworn to William on a scale which proved that now at last his deliberate policy had done its intended work, and that the party of his rival had fallen to pieces without daring to contest the verdict given at Hastings in the open field. Edgar the king-elect, and Archbishop Ealdred of York, with the bishops of Worcester and Hereford, and a number of the more important citizens of London "with many others met him [William], gave hostages, made their submission, and swore fealty to him." And William of Poitiers tells us that when the army had just come in sight of London the bishop and other magnates came out, surrendered the city, and begged William to assume the crown, saying that they were accustomed to obey a king, and that they wished to have a king for their lord. One is naturally tempted to combine these two episodes, but this can only be done by abandoning the old identification of "Beorcham" with Great Berkhampstead, thirty miles from London, and by assuming the surrender to have taken place when the army appeared on the edge of the Hertfordshire Chilterns overlooking the Thames Valley, fifteen miles away, from the high ground of Little Berkhampstead near Hertford.
[The Worcester Chronicle, followed by Florence of Worcester, 1066, asserts that Edwin and Morcar submitted at "Beorcham," but William of Poitiers, whose authority is preferable on a point of this kind, implies that they did not give in their allegiance until after the coronation. On the geography relating to these events see Baring,E.H.R. xiii., 17.]
Whatever the exact place at which the offer of the crown was made to William, it was straightway submitted by him to the consideration of the chiefs of his army. -- StentonReturn to Main Index