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The Godwins were an important English - Anglo-Saxon noble family of the 11th century who also provided the English king for a short time.

The noble family, named after the important Godwin von Wessex († 1053) in historical research as Godwins, can perhaps be traced back to the 9th century, down to the West Saxon King Ethelwulf (839-858). However, specific information about the family is only available from Godwin and his father Wulfnoth Cild († 1014).

Wulfnoth Cild . Wulfnoth appears as Thegn of Sussex for the first time in 1009 and thus belongs to the inner circle of the powerful in the English kingdom of King Æthelreds (938-1013, 1014-1016). Sometimes in agreement with the ruler, sometimes in opposition to him, Wulfnoth succeeded in transferring his position of power to his son Godwin.

Godwin , perhaps born around 993, was able to build up his position in Wessex after the death of his father (1014), especially since he was on friendly terms with the Anglo-Scandinavian King Canute the Great (1016-1035), who was both over England and across Denmark and Norway ruled. As Knut's trustee in England, he became the important person next to the king, and as Earl of Wessex he continued to pursue his domestic power interests. In the troubled years after Knut's death (1035) Godwin succeeded in making Edward the Confessor (1043-1066), who was married to Godwin's daughter Edith, king of England. For the next almost ten years, Godwin's influence in the kingdom remained unbroken until the Earl fell from grace in 1051, fled the country, but was reinstated in the old positions in 1052. Godwin died on April 15, 1053. He left behind among others the sons Swegen, Harold , Tostig , Gyrth , Leofwine and Wulfnoth , some of whom moved into the fatherly positions in England.

Harold Godwinson , sometimes also written Harald Godwinson , was the most important of Godwin's sons. First Earl of East Anglia , then Earl of Wessex, Harold had a decisive influence on English politics under Edward the Confessor. Campaigns against Wales, fights with his brother Tostig, negotiations with Duke William of Normandy consolidated his position as the most powerful vassal in the English kingdom, so that after the death of Edward (1066) Harold became King of England. As such, however, he had tofend offattacks by other pretenders to the throne . On September 25, 1066, Harold and the English army defeated the Norwegian King Harald III. (1047-1066) and his brother Tostig at Stamford Bridge . On September 28 or 29, 1066, William the Conqueror landedwith his troops in southern England and defeated Harold and his army on October 14, 1066 at the Battle of Hastings . Harold fell, and with him the brief English royal rule of the Godwins ended.

Brothers and descendants of Harold and the Godwin survived e.g. B. in Norway and Ireland, but the family could no longer maintain their previous position in north-western Europe and therefore disappears from medieval sources and reports.

Tribe list

  1. Wulfnoth (maybe Wulfnoth Cild )
    1. Godwin Wulfnothson (* around 1001, † April 15, 1053) Earl of Wessex; ⚭ Gytha Thorkilsdóttir, daughter of Thorkil Sprakalegg ( House Estridsson )
      1. Edith , † December 18, 1075; ⚭ January 23, 1045 Edward the Confessor , 1046 King of England, † January 5, 1066 ( House of Wessex )
      2. Sweyn Godwinson (* around 1020, † 1052)
        1. Hakon
      3. Harold Godwinson , * probably 1020, † October 14, 1066 in the Battle of Hastings , 1066 King of England ; ⚭ 1065 Ealdgyth of Mercia , daughter of Ælfgar , Earl of Mercia , widow of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn , King of Gwynedd ( House of Gwynedd ); (a) Most of Harald's children stem from his church-illegitimate relationship with Edith Swanneck
        1. (a) Godwin
        2. (a) Edmund
        3. (a) Magnus
        4. (a) Ulf
        5. (a) Gytha ; ⚭ around 1070 Vladimir Wsewolodowitsch Monomakh , Grand Prince of Kiev , † May 10, 1125 ( Rurikids )
        6. (a) Gunhild, Spiritual in Wilton, Wiltshire
        7. Harald
      4. Toste (* around 1026, † September 25, 1066 at the Battle of Stamford Bridge ), 1055 Earl of Northumbria ; ⚭ Judith von Flanders (* around 1030; † March 5, 1094), she married in 1070/71 Welf IV. , 1070 Duke of Bavaria ( Welfen ).
      5. Leofwine (* 1035, † October 14, 1066 in the Battle of Hastings) Earl of Kent
      6. Gyrth , (c. 1030, † October 14, 1066 at the Battle of Hastings) Earl of East Anglia
      7. Gunhilda
      8. Ælfgifu
      9. Wulfnoth , (* 1035, † 1094 Salisbury )


  • Frank Barlow: The Godwins. The Rise and Fall of a Noble Dynasty. Longman, London 2002, ISBN 0-582-42381-3 .
  • Ian Walker: Harold. The Last English King . Sutton, Stroud 1997. ISBN 0-7509-2456-X