Five Things About: Harold Godwinson

Harold’s mistress, Edith Swanneck, may have been Eadgifu the Fair, one of the largest landholders in England before 1066.

The estates of the Godwinsons produced an income of £8500 a year in the 1050s; the king’s estates gave him £6000 per year.

Harold’s mother, Gytha, was Danish, the daughter of one of Cnut’s nobles. When Swein, her eldest son, claimed that Cnut was really his father, Gytha assembled the noblewomen of Wessex to swear her faithfulness to Earl Godwin.

Harold’s sister, Edith, the wife of King Edward, commissioned a biography of the king after his death which served to commemorate him and exonerate her from blame for the disaster that befell her family in 1066.

Wulfnoth, the hostage Godwinson, remained William’s prisoner until William freed him in a general amnesty on his deathbed, only for William’s heir, William Rufus, to promptly imprison him again. Wulfnoth died in 1094. By then he had been a prisoner for 43 years.


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