[blocks in formation]

Egbert (800—836) 11th in descent from Cerdic.

Ethelwulf (836—858).

Ethelbald (858--860). Ethelbert (860-866).

Ethelred (866—871). Alfred the Great (871--907).


Ethelfleda, Lady of the Mer.

Edred (946—955).


Edward the Elder (901—925).

Edmund (940—946).

Edgar (958-975)=(1) Ethelfeda : (2) Elfrida.

(2) Ethelred the Unready (979-1016)=(1) Elfleda : (2) Emma.


Athelstan (925—940).

Edwy (955—958).

(1) Edward the Martyr (975—979) ?

(1) Edmund, the Ironside (1016),


[blocks in formation]




RULE OF GODWIN, 1042—1053.
UPON the death of Hardicanute, the heir, by descent,

Edward to the English throne, was Edward, son of Edmund the the

Confessor, Ironside, but the heir by conquest was Sweyn, King of 1042 to Norway,' son of Canute.

But the Saxons, at the advice of Godwin, with one voice, clergy and people,* acknowledged Edward, son of Ethelred the Unready and Emma, as king.

The Normans ignored the influence of Godwin in bringing about the restoration of the stock of Cerdic to the throne of England. In their opinion Edward ascended the throne of his father through the influence of the Norman duke. Robert of Poitiers, the Conqueror's chaplain, states that Edward made William of Normandy his heir out of gratitude for the kind treatment he had received in Normandy, and for his restoration, and that he handed over to him the son, Wulfnoth, and the grandson, Haco, of Godwin, as pledges of his heirship: as William was only fifteen years age at that time, he could not have had any voice in Edward's restoration.

According to our first historian, Edward, upon the death of Hardicanute, sent messengers to Godwin to Godwin. request an interview with him. When they met, the Atheling would have fallen at the feet of the powerful

· He was driven out of Norway by Magnus, St. Olave's son. 2 Florence of Worcester: Vita Æduardi. 3 Saxon Chronicle. 4 Matthew of Westminster. 6 Haco was not born at this time.

6 William of Malmesbury.


Godwin helps Edward.

earl, but he raised him up; and, reminding him that he was the son of Ethelred and the grandson of Edgar, stated that the kingdom was his right; that his age, and his acquaintance with difficulties and poverty would enable him to rule well; if, therefore, he would rely upon him, every obstacle would disappear: all he had to do was to become his friend, to honour his sons, and to marry his daughter. Edward readily agreed to Godwin's proposals. A meeting was held at Gillingham: Godwin addressed the assembled nobles in the Saxon tongue : his powerful speech, his ready wit, his authority, and his presents, caused all present to receive the Atheling as King, and to pay him homage.

Henry III., Emperor of Germany, and Henry I., King of France, rejoiced with Edward upon his becoming King of England; and, at his coronation, friendly messages were delivered to him by their ambassadors.

The following year Edward was consecrated King at Winchester by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. In this year he married Edgitha, Godwin's daughter, in accordance with an agreement that he had made with the powerful Saxon. In the same year be went to Winchester in company with Godwin, Leofric and Siward, and deprived his mother of her treasures, because she had not been so kind to him as she should have been. Godwin, Leofric, and Siward were the real rulers of the land.


1 The Biographer of Edward states that he was consecrated at Canterbury.

2 Henry of Huntingdon. 3 Saxon Chronicle. * Upon the death of Canute, Edward came to England with 40 ships and a body of soldiers, in order to try to secure the crown for himself. He landed in Hampshire. No doubt, he expected his mother would assist him: but, instead of meeting with allies, he was opposed by a great number of the Saxons ; thereupon, he returned to Normandy.

992 or me.


Siward' was a great warrior. He was a giants of a siward. man, and very brave. When he heard that his son had been killed by the Scots, he was most anxious to know whether his death-wound pierced the front or the back part of his body: when he was told, “the front,” he replied—“I am very glad, no other death suited him

He afterwards invaded Scotland and defeated Macbeth, who had killed Siward's son-in-law, Duncan, King of Scotland, and usurped the throne. When, in 1055, Siward felt he was dying, he was very sorry that he had not been killed in one of his many battles, and so have escaped the disgrace of dying like a sick cow.He ordered his men to dress him in his welltried armour, to gird his sword by his side, to place his helmet upon his head, his shield in his left hand, and his battle-axe inlaid with gold in his right hand, so that he might die “in a soldier's garb”: when he was fully dressed he gave up the ghost.

Siward and Leofric always opposed Godwin. They Leofrio. were leaders of the Danish subjects of the king, while Godwin was the head of the Saxon portion of the people of England. At the commencement of Edward's reign these Earls and their followers cordially united in obedience to the king. Afterwards, his safety lay in their jealousies of one another, for, had they joined together, they could have removed him at will.

1 By the Danes Siward was called the brave man.”—Vita Æduardi ; Shakespeare alludes to him in his play called Macbeth.

· Henry of Huntingdon: this writer states that Siward ruled Scotland, whereas he placed Malcolm upon its throne.

3 These particulars of Siward are given in order to show the character of one of the leading men of that time: in those days the great earls were the heads and hearts of the country; their deeds and their words were the rieeds and words of their numerous adherents and dependents, from the powerful noble to the humble serf.




The Saxon chroniclers tell us that a very great 1044, Severe

famine took place in 1044; and that the severity of winter,&c. the winter of 1046, with its frost, snow, tempest, 1046.

mortality of mankind, murrain of cattle, and death of birds and fish, were beyond the recollection of man. They also mention the occurrence of an earthquake, and the appearance of a comet. But, in the main, they simply record the doings and sayings of the king, of bishops, earls, thanes, and abbots. Concerning the welfare and every-day life of the people, they are wordless.

Leofric built monasteries: he was, therefore, in favour with the church, and he is known as “the man of virtuous memory.” With the help of his son Algar

he opposed the Godwin family upon every favourable Sweyn,

opportunity. In the year 1046, Sweyn, the firstborn Godwin, of Godwin, sailed to Denmark, because he was not

allowed to marry the abbess of Leominster. His property was divided between his brother Harold and his cousin Beorn.

Upon Sweyn's return to England, the king was willing to restore his former possessions to him, but Harold and Beorn declined to give them up.

Thereupon Sweyn enticed Beorn on board his vessel and killed him. The Witan pronounced him to be a “nithing,"4 that is, a vagabond upon the face of the earth, and an exile from England. He was reconciled to the king by Aldred," Bishop of Worcester; or by his father.6

son of


Matt. of Westminster gives an account of the ride through Coventry of his wife, Godiva, in order to obtain a charter for its people. 2 William of Malmesbury.

3 Matt. of Westminster. * Saxon Chronicle. 5 Flor, of Worcester. * Henry of Huntingdou.

« ForrigeFortsett »