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Earl Godwin Kent WESSEX


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Earl Godwin Kent WESSEX

  • Married: 1019, Halland, , Sweden
  • Died: 1053

   Other names for Godwin were KENT Earl, WESSEX Earl and Godwine.

   Ancestral File Number: B19S-DP.

   General Notes:

Earl of WESSEX, Earl of KENT.

Kings and Queens of Great Britain, Genealogical Chart, Anne Taute and Romilly Squire, Taute, 1990: "Godwine, Earl Essex and Kent, Mar Gytha Sister of Jarl Ulf, Died 1053."

The Oxford Book of Royal Anecdotes, Elizabeth Longford, 1991, Oxford Univ Press, pxviii: "Saxons and Danes Genealogy: Earl Godwin mar Gytha, died 1053."

A History of the English Speaking People Winston S Churchill Vol I The Birth of Britain Dodd Mead & Co 1956 p144:
"...Alfred, `the innocent Prince' as the chronicler calls him, hastened to England in 1036, ostensibly to visit his again-widowed mother, the ex-Queen Emma. A Wessex earl, Godwin, was the leader of the Danish party in England. He possessed great abilities and exercised the highest political influence. The venturesome Alfred was arrested and his personal attendants slaughtered. The unfortunate prince himself was blinded, and in this condition soon ended his days in the monastery at Ely. The guilt of this crime was generally ascribed to Godwin...
"Godwin continued to be the leading figure in the land, and was now masterof its affairs. There was still living in exile in Normandy Edward, the remaining son of Ethelred and Emma, younger grother of the ill-starred Alfred. In these days of reviving anarchy all men's minds turned tothe search for some stable institution. This could only be found in monarchy, and the illustrious line of Alfred the Great possessed unequalled claims and titles. It was the Saxon monarchy which for five or six generations had provided the spearhead of resistance to the Danes.The West Saxon line was the oldest in Europe. Two generations back the house of Capet were lords of little more than Paris and the Ile de France, and the Norman dukes were Viking rovers. A sense of sanctity and awe still attached to any who could claim descent from the Great King, and beyond him to Egypt and immemorial antiquity. Godwin saw that he could consolidate his power and combine both English and Danish support by making Edward King. He bargained with the exile, threatening unless his terms were met to put a nephew of Canute on the throne. Of these the first was the restriction of Norman influence in England. Edward made no difficulty; he was welcomed home and crowned; for the next twenty-four years, with one briefinterval, England was mainly governed by Godwin and his sons...
"Edward was a quiet, pious person without liking for war or much aptitude for administration. His Norman upbringing made him the willing though gentle agent of Norman influence, so far as Earl Godwin would allow...To make all smooth Edward was obliged to marry Godwin's young and handsom daughter, but we are assured by contemporary writers that this union was no more than formal. According to tradition the King wasa kindly, weak, chubby albino... Nevertheless, his main interest in life was religious, and as he grew older his outlook was increasingly that of a monk...His saintliness brought him as the years passed by a reward in the veneration of his people, who forgave him his weakness for the sake of his virtues...
"A crisis came in the year 1051, when the Norman party at Court succeeded in driving Godwin into exile...But in the following year Godwin returned, backed by a force raised inFlanders, and with the active help of his son Harold. Together father and son obliged King Edward to take them back into power..."
p147: "Seven months after his restoration Godwin died, in 1053...Harold, his eldest surviving son, succeeded to his father's great estates. He now filled his part to the full, and for the next thirteen adventurous years was the virtual ruler of England. In spite of the antagonism of rival Anglo-Danish earls, and the opposition of the Norman elementsstill attached to the Confessor's Court, the Godwins, father and son, maintained their rule under what we should now call a constitutional monarchy..."

The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England, Antonia Fraser, 1975, Alfred Knopf, p25: "Godwin Earl of Wessex..."

From Alfred to Henry III 871-1272, Christopher Brooke, 1961, Norton Library History of England, p64: "...It is a symptom of the change in personnel that the title of the Old English ealdorman came to be replaced by theScandinavian jarl, or earl. Six of the sixteen earls of this time whose names are known were English, but only one family maintained through Cnut's reign the power it had had under Ethelred...Another Englishman, Godwin, who becam Earl of Wessex, owed his position to his loyal service to Cnut. (Godwin's sons in due course became earls also of Northumbria, East Anglia, and the home counties, and the most famous of them, Harold, was to be the last of the Old English kings)..."
p83:"...In [Edward Confessor's] early years the most powerful of the earls was Godwin of Wessex, the king-maker: the man who had secured the succession of Harold I to Cnut, and probably played a part in Edward's own succession. He and his family dominated the south of England and ruled the King; Godwin's daughter Edith, was married to Edward. It is clear, nevertheless, that Edward was eager to throw off the tutelage. In itself it was doubtless irksome; and he knew Godwin to have been responsible for the death of his elder brother, Alfred. Edward waited, gathering round him a group of followers, both lay and clerical, from all over north-western Europe,especially from Lorraine, Britanny, and Normandy. The English court was cosmopolitan as never before...
"...These events made clear to Godwin and his family that Edward was deliberately surrounding himself with influences more congenial than themselves. Trouble arose between Godwin and the King; Godwin raised anarmy and tried to force Edward's hand. But Edward was supported by the earls of Mercia and Northumbria in this crisis, and by skillful manoeuvering he forced the family of Godwin into exile- all save Queen Edith who was sent into enforced retreat among the nuns of Wherwell..."
"Before 1052 was over, Earl Godwin had managed to return and dictate his terms to the King. These included the restoration to the family of their earldoms and to the Queen of her place at court. The briefspell of personal government was over. Godwin himself died in 1053, but his earldom and his standing passed to his eldest surviving son, Harold..."

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1981, Micropaedia, Vol III, p799, Edward the Confessor Saint:
"...Edward succeeded to the throne in 1042 and quickly seized the property of his mother, who had plotted against his accession. Nevertheless, for the first 11 years of his reign the real master of England was Godwin, Earl of the West Saxons. Edwardmarried Godwin's daughter Edith in 1045, but by 1049 a breach had occurred between the two men. In 1051 Edward outlawed the Godwin family and dismissed Edith. During this period Edward was rapidly losing popularity by giving foreigners- particularly Normans- high positions in his government. Hence in 1053 Godwin and his sons were able to gather large forces against the King. They forced Edward to restore their lands, and they exiled many of his foreign favourites. Upon Godwin's death in 1053 his son Harold became the dominant power in the kingdom..."

Ancestral File Ver 4.13 B19S-DP.

   Marriage Information:

Godwin married Gytha THORGILSSON, daughter of King Thorkel Sprakling EAST ANGLIA and Sigrid, in 1019 in Halland, , Sweden. (Gytha THORGILSSON was born about 1101 in Halland, , Sweden.)

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