Gyrth Godwinson 1032 – 1066

 

Father – Earl Godwin of Wessex
Mother – Gytha Thorkelsdottir
Spouse – None
Children – None

 

 

1032 (during)
Gyrth Godwinson, was born to Earl Godwin and his wife Gytha. He was the couple’s, fifth child, his elder siblings, Sweyn, Harold, Edith and Tostig had been born earlier.
1035 (during)
Gyrth’s brother, Leofwine was born to Earl Godwin and his wife Gytha.
1037 (during)
Gyrth’s brother, Wulfnoth, was born to Earl Godwin and his wife, Gytha
1043 (during)
Gyrth’s elder brother, Sweyn became Earl of an area that included Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Somerset.
1045 (23rd January)
Gyrth’s sister, Edith, married King Edward the Confessor.
1047 (during)
Gyrth’s brother, Sweyn, was exiled for abducting the abbess of Leominster. It is thought that he intended to marry her and take control of the abbey estate, but he was denied permission.
1049 (during)
Gyrth’s brother, Sweyn, returned to England to ask for forgiveness. Harold and his cousin Beorn did not support the return as they had been allocated Sweyn’s lands in his absence. Beorn eventually agreed to support Sweyn but while accompanying Sweyn to meet the King he was murdered by Sweyn’s men. Sweyn was again exiled.
1050 (during)
Gyrth’s brother, Sweyn, was pardoned and returned to England.
1051 (during)
Gyrth’s brother, Tostig married Judith of Flanders, daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders and his wife, Eleanor of Normandy.
1051 (September)
A group of Normans including William Duke of Normandy, had visited Edward the Confessor in London. On their return journey they had been involved in a conflict with the people of Dover and some were killed. Edward the Confessor asked Harold’s father, Earl Godwin to punish the townspeople of Dover. Earl Godwin refused to carry out the King’s demand and instead raised an army against the King. Not wanting civil war, the Witan intervened and the Godwin family were exiled. Gyrth Godwinson went to Flanders with his parents and brothers, Sweyn and Tostig. His brothers, Harold and Leofwine went to Dublin. Harold’s brother Wulfnoth and Sweyn’s son, Hakon were taken hostage. It is believed that Edward may have told William that he would nominate him to be his successor.
1052 (during)
Gyrth and his family returned to England at the head of an army. King Edward was unable to raise a force that would defeat them and was forced to sue for peace terms. It was agreed that the Godwin family could return and their former lands would be restored to them. A large number of King Edward’s Norman supporters at court had fled to Normandy in the face of the Godwin invasion. It is likely that Gyrth’s brother Wulfnoth and his nephew Hakon were taken to Normandy as hostages.
1052 (Summer)
Gyrth’s brother, Sweyn chose not to return to England. He embarked on a Crusade instead, possibly seeking atonement for the crimes he had committed.
1052 (29th September)
Gyrth’s brother, Sweyn became ill on Crusade and died.
1053 (15th April)
Gyrth Godwinson’s father, Earl Godwin, died. His elder brother, Harold became Earl of Wessex.
1055 (around)
Gyrth Godwinson became Earl of East Anglia, Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire.
1055 (during)
Gyrth’s brother, Tostig became Earl of Northumbria.
1064 (Spring/Summer)
Gyrth’s brother, Harold took a boat journey, setting sail from Bosham in the south. The purpose of the journey is not known but it may have been to try to secure the release of his brother Wulfnoth and nephew Hakon, or that he was simply taking a fishing trip. However, his boat was blown off course and he was shipwrecked off the coast of Ponthieu. William, Duke of Normandy ordered that Harold be brought to him. Harold rode into battle with William and helped to defeat Conan II of Brittany. After the battle William knighted Harold before he returned to England with his nephew Hakon. The Normans claimed that Harold then swore an oath to support William’s claim to the throne of England after the death of Edward. The oath is not recorded in any Anglo-Saxon sources.
1065 (October)
The people of Northumbria rebelled against the rule of Gyrth’s brother Tostig. In order to maintain peace in England, Tostig was exiled.
1066 (5th January)
King Edward the Confessor died. Gyrth’s brother, Harold claimed that Edward named him as successor.
1066 (6th January)
Gyrth’s brother, Harold Godwinson, was crowned King Harold II.
1066 (5th May)
Gyrth’s brother Tostig had been provided with ships by his brother-in-law, Count Baldwin V of Flanders and made a series of raids along the South Coast and landed on the Isle of Wight.
1066 (20th May)
William made a case against Harold breaking an oath sworn on holy relics and presented it to the Pope. He was successful and gained papal backing for an invasion. The Pope sent him a banner to carry into battle.
1066 (8th September)
Harald Hardrada supported by Gyrth’s brother Tostig invaded England. They sailed through the Humber estuary and into the River Ouse.
1066 (11th September)
Harold Godwinson learned of Harald Hardrada’s invasion. Having just disbanded his army he was forced to recall his troops.
1066 (20th September)
Battle of Fulford
The northern earls Morcar and Edwin were defeated by the Viking forces of Harald and Tostig at this battle. The two earls fled the battlefield.
1066 (after 20th September)
Gyrth accompanied his brother, Harold Godwinson, as he marched rapidly north.
1066 (25th September)
Battle of Stamford Bridge
The English army reached the north and surprised Harald Hardrada and Tostig who were completely unprepared for battle. The English had to cross a small bridge which legend states was defended by a very large Viking. The English had to get under the bridge and kill him by thrusting a sword upwards. Once the bridge was cleared the English army defeated the Norwegians, many of whom had not put on their protective chain mail or armour. Harald Hardrada was killed around midday. Tostig Godwinson was offered a pardon but he refused and the fighting continued until Tostig was killed in the early evening.
1066 (28th September)
William, Duke of Normandy sailed overnight and landed at Pevensey on the South coast of England in the morning. He was surprised to find no army waiting for him.
1066 (1st October)
A messenger arrived with the news that William had invaded. Gyrth rode south with his brother.
1066 (6th October)
Harold Godwinson reached London. He sent out a call to arms for men to join his army.
1066 (10th October)
Gyrth tried to persuade Harold to let him lead the army south and fight William. But Harold insisted on leading the troops himself.
1066 (11th October)
Gyrth accompanied Harold as they left London at the head of the Saxon army.
1066 (13th October)
By the evening of 13th October they had reached Caldbec Hill. Harold had wanted to make a surprise attack on the Norman camp at Hastings but he found out that William knew of his presence and had to change tactic.
1066 (14th October)
Battle of Hastings
Harold Godwinson knew that he didn’t have the manpower to defend Caldbec Hill and so at first light he moved his men to Senlac Hill where they formed a shield wall and waited for the Normans.

William arrived and set up his forces at the bottom of the hill. He had three groups – Normans, Flemings and Bretons, both cavalry and infantry. William opened the battle with a barrage of arrows which, because of the hill flew over the heads of the Saxons. Next William sent in his infantrymen but they were unable to break through the shield wall. A group of Breton infantrymen turned and ran down the hill. The Saxons that had been withstanding that group broke the shield wall and ran down after them. William ordered that they become the focus of the next attack and although some managed to return to their line, most were cut down. It is thought that Gyrth and his younger brother Leofwine were killed at this point in the battle.

In the late afternoon, Harold was hit by an arrow. It may have gone through the eye slit of Harold’s helmet and struck him in the eye or near to the eye. It is thought that while reeling from this injury he was cut down by a sword, possibly to his thigh, or an axe and died of his injuries. 

1066 (after 14th October)
William of Normandy went on to take the South of England and then London. He was crowned King William I on 25th December 1066.

 

Published Jul 7, 2019 @ 10:42 – Updated – Jul 22, 2019 @ 2:42 pm

 

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2019). Gyrth Godwinson 1032 – 1066. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/gyrth-godwinson-1032-1066 Last accessed November 11th, 2019