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Morcar, earl of Northumbria

Morcar, earl of Northumbria (c.1040–c.1090). Morcar was from the Mercian nobility, grandson of Leofric and his wife ‘ Lady Godiva’, and son of Ælfric, earl of East Anglia. The family was in rivalry with the Godwines. In 1065 Morcar and his brother Edwin joined a rebellion in Northumbria against Harold Godwineson's brother Tostig, and Morcar replaced him as earl of Northumbria. When Tostig returned with Harold Hardrada in 1066, Edwin and Morcar gave battle but were defeated at Fulford, near York. Harold retrieved the situation by killing Tostig and Harold Hardrada at Stamford Bridge, but Morcar and Edwin did not march south with him to Hastings, possibly because their forces were shattered. On Harold's death, the brothers tried to lead a resistance, failed, and submitted to William. In 1068 they rebelled and were again obliged to submit. After a further unsuccessful revolt in 1071 Morcar took refuge in the Isle of Ely, surrendered, and was imprisoned in Normandy. He was alive at the Conqueror's death in 1087 but Rufus returned him to prison and no more was heard of him. His elder brother Edwin was killed by his own men in 1071.

J. A. Cannon

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