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HomeHistorical BooksSwegn Godwineson, Evil or Tragic? – Historical Britain Blog

Swegn Godwineson, Evil or Tragic? – Historical Britain Blog

Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, II, fol. 52r (56r) – Wikipedia

Swegn was the eldest son of a prolific household. His father, Godwine of Wessex, labored his method up from relative obscurity to probably the most highly effective Earl within the nation. Swegn’s future may have been assured if solely he had behaved himself and never acted like a rogue and an outlaw. He was the one one in every of his brood who appeared completely evil from the primary. What occurred?

We know little or no except for the fundamental occasions which look very unhealthy certainly. Initially Swegn held an necessary earldom which included Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and Somerset. In 1046, as he was coming back from a profitable expedition into Wales, he’s mentioned to have kidnapped the abbess of Leominster, had his method together with her then despatched her again in shame. For this deed he was exiled and misplaced his earldom.

Swegn ultimately submitted to the King and requested to be restored his lands. At first Edward agreed, however his brother Harold and cousin Beorn, who got elements of Swegn’s divided earldom, refused to show over their possessions. King Edward determined to just accept their refusal and gave Swegn 4 days protected conduct again to his ships, anchored at Bosham.

At the identical time, England was threatened by a Danish fleet; there was a whole lot of backwards and forwards as Godwine and sons moved their ships to defend the Kentish coast. Threatened by extreme climate, Godwine anchored off Pevensey and Beorn apparently searched him on the market (to defend his actions?). Swegn did as nicely, and I assume there was some heated dialogue earlier than Beorn agreed to accompany his cousin again to the king and make amends. Reluctant to go away his personal ships unsupervised any longer, Swegn persuaded Beorn to return to his residence base at Bosham, from whence they’d proceed to King Edward at Sandwich.

Poor Beorn by no means made it to Sandwich. Once at Bosham, he was allegedly seized, certain, and thrown right into a ship, the place he was murdered by Swegn and his physique dumped off at Dartmouth. Or presumably, Beorn and Swegn quarreled earlier than the killing, which undoubtedly occurred it doesn’t matter what the trigger. This time, Swegn had gone too far. Declared nithing (or nugatory) by king and countrymen, Swegn was abandoned by his personal males and took refuge in Flanders.

King Edward enthroned from Bayeux Tapestry. Source: Wikipedia

Amazingly, the following 12 months he was reinstated in his previous earldom with the assistance of Bishop Ealdred, often known as the peacemaker. But bother was on the horizon (nothing to do with Swegn this time). In 1051 Eustace of Bologne created an enormous ruckus in Dover then fled to the king complaining that he misplaced 21 males to the vicious townspeople. Taking benefit of the chance to say himself, King Edward ordered Godwine to punish the offenders. The earl refused, placing himself on the fallacious facet of the regulation. The disaster escalated into an armed confrontation, with Godwine and Swegn solid as rebels. But nobody wished civil warfare, so Godwine backed down and was ultimately pushed into exile alongside together with his household. Swegn accompanied his father to Flanders as soon as once more, however, overcome with regret, continued to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage from which he by no means returned.

It’s simple to dismiss Swegn because the black sheep of the household. But maybe his story goes a bit deeper than that. First of all, contemplate the circumstances of Godwine and Gytha’s marriage. King Canute gave Godwine—a commoner—in marriage to this high-ranking Danish lady whose brother had lately been killed by Canute’s orders. This doesn’t sound like an auspicious starting, and I ponder if the early years of their marriage weren’t a bit tempestuous. Perhaps their first son was born within the midst of bitter recriminations? This may clarify Godwine’s cussed protection of his wayward son in face of virtually common disapproval. It was reported that in his second banishment, Swegn put it about that King Canute was his actual father, which brought about Gytha to strenuously and really publicly object. What was the motivation behind this outrage?

The abbess of Leominster story has a potential clarification. There is circumstantial proof Eadgifu might have been associated to the late Earl Hakon, nephew of King Canute. She might presumably have been childhood pals with Swegn, and maybe extra; it doesn’t make sense for him to have kidnapped a high-profile complete stranger. The Worcester custom states that he saved her for one 12 months and wished to marry her, however was forbidden by the church and commanded to return her to Leominster, which brought about him to go away the nation.

As for Beorn, there appears little protection. It has been mentioned that it was Harold quite than Beorn that stubbornly refused to launch the territory to Swegn, and this is the reason Swegn was in a position to persuade Beorn to accompany him to the king in Sandwich. Perhaps Beorn wished to please Godwine, his uncle-by-marriage, and agreed to barter. Regardless, Beorn should have been the sufferer of Swegn’s unhealthy mood (at greatest) or revenge (at worst). Swegn’s resolution to go on pilgrimage appears to have been the final try to redeem himself.

It is alleged that Swegn died on his method again from Jerusalem precisely fourteen days after Godwine’s profitable return to England.  By all reviews, Swegn was mourned by nobody besides his father. No one was to comprehend it but, however this was the start of the tip for Earl Godwine; he fell into decline and didn’t final out the 12 months.

You can learn extra about this in my novel, GODWINE KINGMAKER.



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