|English Civil War
|Part of The Failed Conquest|
Harold's forces after winning a battle in Wessex
|Commanders and leaders|
|Harold the Warrior||Edgar the Ætheling|
|15,000 at height||10,000 at height|
|Casualties and losses|
|~3,000 plus civilians||~4,500 plus civilians|
The First English Civil War, also known as The English Civil War, Edgar's War, or Harold's Reclamation, was a war fought between 1066 and 1069 AD to determine which of the two claimants would take the throne - Edgar or Harold. Because of its place immediately after the failed Horman invasion, the war would prove to have a drastic effect on England and its history. To start, it would secure Harold's reign over England, and thus the prominence of his dynasty, the Godwins. Less obviously, it would create the House of Iron, a royal family that would destabilize England many times over their supposed claim the the throne.
In the shorter term, the war would actually stabilize England - not only would it get rid of a pretender, but it would cement Harold's reign. This much needed by England after three challenges within the last half of the decade. It would also severally hurt Edwin, the one Earl who had supported Edgar. His realm, Northumbria, was cut down to about half its previous size, and that Earldom (at least on its own) would never threaten England again.
After William landed his army in England, it fell onto Harold to defend his nation from the second invader that year. After gathering his army from the north, as well as more troops from the area around London, Harold moved his army south. The main battle took place in Hastings, and despite a stunning victory for the English, Harold went missing. This put the burden of finishing the job on Leofwine and Gyrth, while Edgar the Ætheling ascended to the throne in Winchester.
However, as it happened, Harold was not actually dead. He was discovered on November 18th, and was soon informed that Edgar had claimed the kingship for himself. Enraged, he and several English troops rode to meed Leofwine, who informed Harold that Edgar had indeed taken the throne, but that he would remain loyal to Harold. Harold, knowing he had at least one Earl on his side, sent and ultimatum to Edgar, demanding he abdicate and return the throne to Harold.
Edgar, who had previously had no idea that Harold was alive, was initially shocked by the ultimatum. However, instead of consulting the other Earls, or even his officers, Edgar rejected the ultimatum offhand, thus forcing war. Upon receiving this news, Harold returned to Wessex to raise an army, leaving Leofwine in Kent to do the same. Meanwhile, Edgar began to gather the reaming troops leftover form the battle of Hastings, trying to raise an army to compete with Harold and Leofwine.
After both combatants had gathered their armies, they maneuvered around each other throughout the spring, and finally clashed on April 16th. The battle actually lasted three days, and was a baptism of fire for both sides of the conflict. Similar to the Battle of Hastings, both sides ran out of Cavalry quickly, leading to only moderate casualties on both sides. By April 20th, Edgar pulled back his army, reasoning that he had nothing left to gain and any further fighting would probably leave him worse off.
After Edgar retreated, Harold moved south, hoping to catch Edgar's flank and force him out of Wessex. Despite anticipating this move, Edgar couldn't defend his flank sufficiently, and thus Harold was able to force a series of battles. The first one, taking place on may 1st, was a complete wash Edgar's forces were disorganized and sleep deprived, While Harold commanded a deadly machine. Within hours, Edgar had to retreat, pulling his army back almost 20 miles overnight.
After Edgar's retreat, Harold was given more room to maneuver. However, because of various constraints on his resources, Harold could only advance half his army forward. Thinking that he would be able to score and easy victory, Edgar threw his tired but numerically superior forces against Harold. Harold, having already planned for this, flanked Edgar, and once again forced him back. It would be later revealed that during the course of the battle Edwin declared his support for Harold, while Morcar declared his support for Edgar.
Because his declared ally was far closer, Harold got reinforcements first, and was able to use his now more powerful army to chase Edgar around Wessex. Finally, in early Autumn, Edgar left Wessex entirely, retreating north to Mercia. After a few small battles, both sides settled down for the winter, though Edgar would be hit by occasional raids. Meanwhile, Harold would spend the winter strengthening his army, and gaining the alliance of the remaining Earls.