Morcar (or Morkere) (Old English: Mōrcǣr) (died after 1087) was the
son of Ælfgār (earl of Mercia) and brother of Ēadwine. He was the
Northumbria from 1065 to 1066, when he was replaced by William
the Conqueror with Copsi.
1 Dispute with the Godwins
2 Events of 1066
3 Demise and death
4 Popular culture
5 See also
8 External links
Dispute with the Godwins
In October 1065 Northumbrian rebels chose
Morcar as earl at York.
He at once satisfied the people of the
Bernicia by making over the
government of the country beyond the
River Tyne to Osulf of Bamburgh
the eldest son of Eadwulf III of Bamburgh, the Bernician earl, whom
Siward had slain in 1041. Marching southwards with the rebels, Morcar
gathered into his forces the men of Nottingham, Derby, and Lincoln,
members of the old Danish confederacy of towns, and met his brother
Edwin, Earl of Mercia, who was at the head of a considerable force at
Northampton. There the brothers and their rebel army considered
proposals for peace offered to them by Earl Harold Godwinson.
Negotiations continued at Oxford, where, the Northumbrians insisting
on the recognition of Morcar, Harold yielded on the 28th, and Morcar's
election was legalised.
Events of 1066
On the death of Edward the Confessor,
Morcar professedly supported
Harold, but the people of his earldom were dissatisfied, and Harold
visited York, the seat of Morcar's government, in the spring of 1066,
and overcame their disaffection by peaceful means. In the summer,
Morcar joined his brother Edwin in repulsing Tostig, who was ravaging
the Mercian coast. When, however,
Tostig and his ally Harald Hardrada
Northumbria in September,
Morcar evidently was not ready to
meet them; and it was not until
York was threatened that, having then
been joined by Edwin, he went out against them with a large army. The
two earls were defeated at Fulford Gate, near York, in a fierce
battle, in which, according to a Norse authority,
Morcar seems to have
York was surrendered, and
Harold Godwinson had to march in haste to
save the north by the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Ungrateful for this
Morcar and his brother held back the forces of the north
from joining Harold, in the defence of the kingdom against the
Normans. After the battle of Hastings,
Morcar and his brother arrived
at London, sent their sister Ealdgyth, Harold's widow, to Chester, and
urged the citizens to raise one or other of them to the throne.
They concurred in the election of Edgar the Ætheling, but
disappointed of their hope left the city with their forces and
returned to the north, believing that the Conqueror would not advance
so far. Before long, however, they met
William of Normandy
William of Normandy either at
Berkhamstead, or more probably at Barking, after his coronation.
William accepted their submission, received from them gifts and
hostages, and they were reinstated. The Conqueror carried
his brother with him into Normandy in 1067, and after his return kept
them at his court.
Demise and death
In 1068, they withdrew from the court, reached their earldoms, and
rebelled against William. They were supported by a large number both
of English and Welsh; the clergy, the monks, and the poor were
strongly on their side, and messages were sent to every part of the
kingdom to stir up resistance. Morcar's activity may perhaps be
inferred from the prominent part taken in the movement by York. It
seems probable, however, that Eadgar was nominally the head of the
rebellion, and that he was specially upheld by the Bernician district
Morcar and his brother were not inclined to risk too
much; they advanced with their men to Warwick, and there made
submission to the Conqueror, were pardoned, and again kept at court,
the king treating them with an appearance of favour. On their
defection, the rebellion came to nothing. In 1071, some mischief was
made between them and the king, and William, it is said, was about to
send them to prison, but they escaped secretly from the court.
After wandering about for a while, keeping to wild country, they
Morcar joined the insurgents in the Isle of Ely, and
remained with them until the surrender of the island. Morcar, it is
said, surrendered himself on the assurance that the king would pardon
him and receive him as a loyal friend. William, however, committed him
to the custody of Roger de Beaumont, who kept him closely imprisoned
When the king was on his deathbed in 1087, he ordered that Morcar
should be released, in common with others whom he had kept in prison
in England and Normandy, on condition that they took an oath not to
disturb the peace in either land. He was not long out of prison, for
William Rufus took him to England, and on arriving at
him in prison there. Nothing further is known about him, and it is
therefore probable that he died in prison.
Morcar has been portrayed by
Noel Johnson in the two-part
BBC TV play
Conquest (1966), part of the series Theatre 625, and by
Simon Rouse in
the TV drama Blood Royal:
William the Conqueror
William the Conqueror (1990). He is a
significant character in Man With a Sword by Henry Treece, where he
Hereward the Wake
Hereward the Wake are shown becoming allies and friends in spite
of some past clashes. He is mentioned in Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland when the Mouse attempts to dry itself and other characters
by reciting a dry example of English history.
Drogo de la Beuvrière, acquired many of Morcar's land holdings after
^ Hill, Francis (1948). Medieval Lincoln. Cambridge University Press.
p. 42. Retrieved 2015-04-02. A revolt broke out in
1065 against Tostig. The rebels descended on York, proclaimed Tostig
an outlaw, and invited Edwin's brother
Morcar to be their earl.
^ a b c d e f g Hunt 1894.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain: Hunt, William (1894). "Morcar". In Lee, Sidney.
Dictionary of National Biography. 38. London: Smith, Elder &
Freeman, E. A. Norman Conquest and
William Rufus vol. i.
Gesta Herwardi from the Book of Robert of Swaffham, published as a
supplement to Fenland Notes and Queries ed. W.D. Sweeting (1895-7)
Morcar 3 at Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England
Peerage of England
Earl of Northumbria