Godwin of Wessex was born to Wulfnoth Clid, thegn of Sussex
Godwin’s father, Wulfnoth, had been made Captain of King Aethelred’s new fleet of ships. After being accused of an unknown crime by Brihtric, he took 20 ships and fled. Brihtric took 80 ships and pursued Wulfnoth but his ships were blown off course during a storm. Wulfnoth then probably burnt those ships. This action allowed the Vikings to attack unopposed.
Wulfnoth’s property was confiscated for destroying King Aethelred’s fleet.
Sweyn Forkbeard had been making raids on the English coast since 1002 and had exacted increasing sums of money, known as Danegeld, from King Aethelred to cease the raids. However, he had always returned and by this point had conquered the majority of England. Sweyn Forkbeard proclaimed himself King of England and King Aethelred, his wife Emma and their children fled to Normandy.
Godwin’s father, Wulfnoth, died.
Godwin was bequeathed property by King Aethelred’s son Aethelstan who died fighting Cnut.
1014 (3rd February)
Sweyn Forkbeard died. He nominated his son, Cnut to succeed him.
Although the English nobles had accepted Sweyn as King they were not so keen to support his young son so called for King Aethelred to return.
Aethelred and his family returned to England.
1016 (23rd April)
Aethelred died. He was succeeded by his son, Edmund Ironside as King Edmund II.
1016 (30th November)
Cnut became King following the death of Edmund II. Godwin quickly allied himself to the new King.
Godwin, now the most powerful noble in England, strengthened his alliance to Cnut by marrying Cnut’s sister in law, Gytha. He was also made Earl of East Wessex.
Godwin accompanied Cnut when he went to Denmark to claim the Kingdom.
Earl Godwin of Wessex became chief advisor to Cnut after Thorkell and his wife were banished from England. It is not known why this happened save that there must have been a serious disagreement between Thorkell and Cnut.
A son, Harold, was born to Godwin and his wife Gytha.
A daughter, Edith, was born to Earl Godwin and his wife Gytha.
A son, Tostig, was born to Earl Godwin and his wife Gytha.
Earl Godwin was given control of all of Wessex.
A son, Gyrth, was born to Earl Godwin and his wife, Gytha
A son, Leofwine was born to Earl Godwin and his wife, Gytha.
1035 (12th November)
King Canute died. He was succeeded by his son by Emma, Harthacnut, who was in Denmark as regent.
Harthacnut’s half-brother Harold Harefoot attempted to gain the crown claiming that he was the only one of Cnut’s sons in England, however, Harthacnut’s mother, Emma of Normandy, pressed her son’s claim. Earl Godwin of Wessex decided to back Harold Harefoot. The Witan decided that Harold should act as regent. ruling Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia while Emma would act as regent in Wessex for Harthacnut.
1035 (late December)
Emma’s sons by her marriage to Aethelred, Edward and Alfred, arrived in England. Edward landed at Southampton and Alfred in Kent. It is thought that they had come to take the throne back for their family. Alfred was met at Guildford by Earl Godwin, the most powerful nobleman. However, Earl Godwin had not come to welcome Alfred since he had allied himself to Harold Harefoot, Cnut’s son from his first marriage. Instead he seized Alfred, blinded him and then sent him to the monastery at Ely. On hearing of his brother’s capture, Edward returned ot Normandy.
A son, Wulfnoth, was born to Earl Godwin and his wife, Gytha
Harold Harefoot was crowned King Harold I because Harthacnut had still not returned from Denmark to claim the throne.
1040 (17th March)
King Harold I died at the age of 24, possibly from a congenital illness. He was succeeded by his half-brother, Harthacnut.
1042 (8th June)
King Harthacnut died and Edward, son of Aethelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy became King. He was known as Edward the Confessor.
Godwin’s son, Sweyn became Earl of Hertfordshire.
1045 (23rd January)
Earl Godwin’s daughter, Edith, married King Edward the Confessor.
Godwin’s son, Harold, became Earl of East Anglia.
1046 (date unknown)
Edward the Confessor banished Godwin’s son Sweyn after he attempted to abduct Eadgifu, the abbess of Leominster
Godwin’s son, Sweyn, returned to England and begged forgiveness. He was allowed to return to England.
1051 (late Summer)
Following a brawl in Dover where several Normans were killed, King Edward the Confessor ordered that the people of Dover should be punished for the deaths of his Norman friends. He ordered Godwin Earl of Wessex to carry out the punishment.
Earl Godwin of Wessex refused to carry out King Edward the Confessor’s order to punish the town of Dover and instead raised an army against the King. The King also raised troops but neither side was prepared to start a civil war so the matter was referred to the Witan.
1051 (24th September)
The Witan met to discuss Earl Godwin’s refusal to carry out the King’s orders. They decided that Godwin and his family should be banished. The Godwin family left England but Godwin’s youngest son, Wulfnoth was left with King Edward as hostage. Godwin, Gytha, Sweyn, Tostig and Gyrth went to Flanders while Harold and Leofwine went to Dublin.
Godwin’s son, Tostig married Judith of Flanders.
Earl Godwin of Wessex raised an army and accompanied by his sons, Harold and Tostig, launched an attack on England. They quickly took the South and Edward, unable to raise sufficient forces to defeat them, was forced to sue for peace. It was agreed that all the Godwin family could return to England and that their titles and land would be restored to them.
Godwin’s son, Sweyn chose not to return to England but left on Crusade instead.
1052 (29th September)
Godwin’s son, Sweyn became ill and died.
1053 (15th April)
Earl Godwin of Wessex died. His son Harold Godwinson succeeded him as Earl of Wessex.
Published Aug 9, 2016 @ 01:13 – Updated – Jun 17, 2020 @ 1:27 pm
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2015 – 2020). Earl Godwin 1001 – 1053. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/earl-godwin-1001-1053 Last accessed [date]