Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy by Alison Weir

  Harold I married (although no record exists of the date or the place):


  Her origins are unknown, as are her dates.

  Issue of marriage:

  1 Elfwine

  He was born in London, but no dates are recorded for his life. Some sources infer he was illegitimate, but they are unreliable. He became a monk at Sainte-Foi Abbey, Conques, Aquitaine, his own foundation.


  He died on 17 March, 1040, at Oxford, and was buried, according to a faint tradition, in the old Abbey Church of St Peter at Westminster. It is less probable that he was buried in Winchester Cathedral, as is sometimes stated. His body, after a dishonourable exhumation, was reburied, probably in St Clement Danes Church, Strand, London (less probably, in St Olave’s Church, Southwark, London). He was succeeded by his half-brother Harthacanute, whom he had once deposed ( previous chapter), who, in turn, was succeeded by Edward, son of Ethelred II.

  King Edward the Confessor

  * * *

  FATHER: Ethelred II ( see here).

  MOTHER: Emma of Normandy ( see here, under Ethelred II).

  SIBLINGS: ( see here, under Ethelred II).


  Known as ‘the Confessor’, he was born around c.1003/4 (by 1005) at Islip, Oxon. When he succeeded his half-brother King Harthacanute, on 8 June, 1042, the crown of England reverted from the usurping Danish dynasty to the line of Cerdic once more, and for the last time. Edward was crowned on 3 April, 1043, at Winchester Cathedral.

  King Edward married, on 23 January, 1045 (although no record exists as to where):


  She was the daughter of Godwine, Earl of Wessex, by his wife Gytha ( see here, under Harold II), and she was born in c.1020. Edith was perhaps anointed and crowned on her wedding day, but details of the ceremony have not been recorded. Her marriage to Edward was purely platonic, the King being unwilling, for religious reasons, to consummate it, hence there were no children. Edith died on 18 December, 1075, either at the Palace of Westminster or at Winchester, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.


  He died on 4/5 January, 1066, at the Palace of Westminster, and was buried in the new Westminster Abbey, built by his command and only recently consecrated.

  He was succeeded by Harold, Earl of Wessex, his brother-in-law, to whom he left his throne, with the support of the Witan, there being no adult claimant to the crown of the line of Cerdic.

  On 7 February, 1161, Edward the Confessor was canonised, thus becoming the only King of England to be made a saint.

  Harold II

  * * *

  FATHER: Godwine

  He was the son of Wulfnoth, Cyld of Sussex, and was born in c.987. He married firstly Thyra, daughter of King Sweyn, and secondly, in c.1019/20, Gytha ( below). He was first created Earl in 1018, but his earldom is unknown. He was created Earl of Wessex and Kent in 1020. He died on 15 April, 1053, at Winchester Castle, of apoplexy, and was buried in Winchester Cathedral.

  MOTHER: Gytha

  She was the daughter of Thorgils Sprakalegg by Thyra, daughter of Harold Bluetooth, King of Denmark (and sister of King Sweyn); some authorities state that Thorgils was the son of Thyra, not her husband. Gytha was born in Denmark. She married Earl Godwine in c.1019/20. She died in exile, perhaps in Flanders, after June, 1069.


  1 Edith

  ( see here, under King Edward the Confessor).

  2 Sweyn

  He was born in c.1023, and was created Earl of Mercia in 1043. He died on 29 September, 1052, in exile, at Lycia, near Constantinople, in Byzantium.

  Sweyn had the following illegitimate issue:

  By Edgiva, Abbess of Leominster, a nun whom he abducted and with whom he contracted an uncanonical marriage:

  1 Haakon (b.1046/7).

  2 Tostig.

  3 Tostig

  He was born in c.1026, and was created Earl of Northumbria in c.1055. In that year, or later, he was also created Earl of Northampton and Nottingham. He was deprived of his earldoms on 3 October, 1065. He was killed on 25 September, 1066, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Northumberland, fighting his brother Harold II in alliance with Harold Hardraada, King of Norway. Tostig was buried in York Minster.

  Tostig married, in October, 1051 (although no record exists as to where):


  Alternatively known as Fausta, she was the daughter of Baldwin IV, Count of Flanders, by Eleanor, daughter of Richard II, Duke of Normandy. After Tostig’s death, she married secondly Welf IV, Duke of Bavaria.

  Issue of marriage:

  (i) Skule

  He grew up, married, and had issue. No further details are recorded.

  (ii) Ketel

  He grew up, married and had issue. No further details are recorded.

  4 Gyrth

  He was created Earl of East Anglia in 1057, and was killed on 14 October, 1066, at the Battle of Hastings, Sussex.

  5 Leofwine

  He was created Earl of Kent, Surrey, Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire in c.1057, and was killed on 14 October, 1066, at the Battle of Hastings, Sussex.

  6 Wulfnoth

  He died after 1087, either in Normandy, or at Salisbury, Wiltshire.

  7 Alfgar

  He is said to have been a monk at Rheims in France.

  8 Edgiva

  Nothing is known of her beyond her name.

  9 Elgiva

  She died in c.1066.

  10 Gunhilda

  She is said to have become a nun, either at St Omer in France, or at Bruges in Flanders. She died on 24 August, 1087, at Bruges, and was buried in Bruges Cathedral.


  Surnamed Godwineson, he was born in c.1020/22. He was created Earl of East Anglia in c.1045, and succeeded his father as Earl of Wessex on 15 April, 1053. He was created Earl of Hereford in 1058, and styled ‘Duke of the English’ from 1064. He succeeded Edward the Confessor as King of England on 6 January, 1066, having been chosen by the King as his successor with the support of the Witan. Harold II was crowned on 6 January, 1066, probably at St Paul’s Cathedral in London (some authorities state he was crowned at Westminster Abbey, but there is no evidence for this).

  Harold II married, either in c.1064 or in March (?), 1066, at York:


  She was the daughter of Alfgar, Earl of Mercia, by Edgiva or Elgiva Malet, or by Elfleda, daughter of Ealdred, Earl of Northumbria. She was born in c.1042. She married firstly Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, King of Wales (killed in 1063), either in c.1050 or in c.1056/7, and had issue:

  1 Meredith (d.1070).

  2 Idwal (d.1070).

  3 Nesta, who married Osbern FitzRichard, Lord of Richard’s Castle and Byton, and had issue.

  After the death of Harold, Edith went into exile on the Continent where she died after 1070.

  Issue of marriage, who may have been twins:

  1 Harold

  He was born in December, 1066, in Chester. He grew up in exile on the Continent, and died after 1098.

  2 Ulf

  He was perhaps born in December, 1066, in Chester, although some authorities have stated that he was an illegitimate son of Harold by his mistress Edith Swanneshals ( below). Ulf is said by some chroniclers to have drowned at sea before 1070, but he is recorded as being alive in 1087 in Normandy, after which he disappears from the records.

  Harold II also had the following illegitimate issue:

  Probably by Edith Swanneshals (‘Swan Neck’):

  1 Godwine.

  2 Edmund.

  3 Magnus.

  4 Gunhilda; she became a nun at Wilton Abbey, Wiltshire.

  5 Gytha; she married Vladimir II, Prince of Novgorod and Kiev (d.1125), and had issue. One of her descendants was Philippa, wife of Edward III.

  6 Ulf ( see above). He may have been Harold’s legitimate son by his wife.


  He was killed on 14 October, 1066, at the Battle of Senlac (now known
as the Battle of Hastings, although it took place eleven miles away at Battle in Sussex). Harold may have been felled by an arrow between his eyes, although this theory may be based upon a misinterpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry, in which case he was probably struck down by a sword stroke dealt by a mounted Norman knight. Harold was buried either on the battlefield or, less probably, on the seashore at Hastings. Later on, his remains were removed to Waltham Abbey, Essex.

  He was succeeded by William, Duke of Normandy, the victor of Hastings.


  The Norman Kings of England

  Harold II was the last of the Saxon Kings of England. His successor, William I, based his claim to the English throne upon a promise made to him more than a decade before 1066 by Edward the Confessor, who is said to have told William that he, Edward, would make him his successor.

  In 1064, Earl Harold was shipwrecked upon the coast of Normandy. William kept him in honourable captivity until he had sworn upon holy relics to do all in his power to enforce William’s claim to the English throne. William knew very well that at that time it seemed that Harold, the most powerful man in England next to the king, would be designated Edward’s successor, which was what in fact happened. When, in the autumn of 1065, Edward was seen to be dying, the Witan considered all the claimants and decided that Harold, as the only man with the strength and maturity that befitted him to rule England, was the natural choice. Edward, on his deathbed, accordingly left his crown to Harold, who seized power in defiance of his oath to William.

  William thereupon gathered an army, sailed to England, and defeated Harold on 14 October, 1066, at the Battle of Hastings.

  At that time, there was only one living male representative of the ancient line of the Kings of Wessex, and that was the child Edgar the Atheling, the grandson of Edmund II. The Witan in London set him up as king as soon as they received the news of William’s victory at Hastings, but it quickly became obvious that Edgar’s impeccable claim to the throne would be no match for William’s determination to wear the crown of England. Edgar submitted to William within 6 weeks, and William was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066.

  A new royal dynasty had been founded; the joining of England with Normandy brought England very much into the forefront of European affairs. William’s followers received lands and honours, and thus founded aristocratic dynasties of their own in their new realm. A new order prevailed: England was feudalised and its Church and legal system were overhauled, and all things Saxon were disdained by the conquering Normans.

  William’s claim to the English throne had very little basis in dynastic terms. His great-aunt Emma had been wife to both Ethelred II and Canute, and William’s wife Matilda was a descendant of King Alfred. Those were his only links to the English royal line. William’s own ancestor, Rollo, who founded the duchy of Normandy in the 10th century, had been a Viking pirate. It was left to William’s son, Henry I, to ally himself in blood to the ancient line of Cerdic: in 1100, he married Edith, the niece of Edgar the Atheling, much to the disgust of his Norman barons, who sneeringly referred to the royal couple as ‘Godric and Godgifu’, old Saxon names now fallen into disrepute. Yet the marriage was popular with the common people, who were, after all, Saxon, and later Kings would acknowledge that it was fitting that the blood of Cerdic flowed in their veins.

  William I

  * * *

  FATHER: Robert

  Known as ‘the Devil’ or ‘the Magnificent’, he was the son of Richard II, Duke of Normandy, by Judith of Brittany, and was born in c.1008 in Normandy. He perhaps married Astrid, daughter of King Sweyn, in c.1027, but repudiated her almost at once. He succeeded his brother Richard III as Duke of Normandy on 6 August, 1028, and died on 2 or 22 July, 1035, on pilgrimage at Nicea in Bithynia. William I was his illegitimate son.

  MOTHER: Herleva

  Alternatively called Arlette, she was the daughter of Fulbert, a tanner of Falaise in Normandy, by his wife Duxia. She was born in c.1012. She is said to have been noticed by Duke Robert as she sat washing clothes in a river. Their liaison produced two children ( below). Herleva married Herluin, Viscount of Conteville, between c.1029 and 1035, and had four (or perhaps as many as six) further children ( below). She died in c.1050, and was buried in the Abbey of St Grestain in France.



  She was born perhaps in 1029, before her mother’s marriage to a Norman nobleman. She married firstly Enguerrand III, Count of Ponthieu (d.1053), and had issue:

  1 Adelaide (alive in 1096).

  Adeliza married secondly Lambert of Boulogne, Count of Lens in Artois (who was killed in battle in 1054), in c.1053, and had issue:

  2 Judith (1054/5–after 1086); she married Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria and Huntingdon (who was executed in 1076), and had issue, including Matilda, wife of David I, King of Scotland.

  Adeliza married thirdly Odo II, Count of Champagne (disinherited in 1071), and had issue:

  3 Stephen, Count of Aumale (before 1070–1121/30), who married Hawise, daughter of Ralph de Mortimer of Wigmore, and had issue.

  Adeliza was styled Countess of Aumale in her own right from 1082. She died between 1087 and 1090.

  William did not have any full brothers.

  HALF-SIBLINGS (the children of his mother’s marriage):

  1 Robert

  He was born in 1030/1, and was created Count of Mortain in c.1049 or c.1056. He was probably created Earl of Cornwall in c.1066/7. He died on 8 December, 1090/1, and was buried in the Abbey of St Grestain, France.

  Robert married, before 1066:


  She was the daughter of Roger of Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, by Mabel, daughter of William, Seigneur of Alençon-Bellême. The date of her death is not known; she was buried in the Abbey of St Grestain in France.

  Issue of marriage:

  (i) William

  He was born before 1084. He succeeded his father as Count of Mortain on 8 December, 1090/1, and married a lady called Adelaide, of whom nothing more is known. He died after 1140.

  (ii) Emma

  She married William IV, Count of Toulouse (d.1094), and had issue.

  Robert married secondly:


  She was perhaps a sister of Boson, Count of La Marche. After Robert’s death, she perhaps married Roger of Montgomery.

  2 Odo

  He was born between c.1031 and 1035. He entered the Church and was consecrated Bishop of Bayeux in Normandy around 1049 and before 23 April 1050. He was created Earl of Kent in 1066/7; he was deprived of this earldom, which was not forfeited, in 1082, but restored in 1087. He was again deprived of the earldom of Kent in 1088, and this time it was declared forfeit, Odo being banished from England. He died in February, 1097, at Palermo, Sicily, and was buried in Palermo Cathedral.

  Odo had the following illegitimate issue:

  1 John.

  3 Emma (?)

  Historians now think she was probably fictitious. She is said to have married Richard of Goz, Viscount of Avranches (d.c.1082), and had issue:

  1 Hugh, Viscount of Avranches, Earl of Chester (c.1047–1101), who married Ermentrude, daughter of Hugh, Count of Clermont, and had issue. Hugh died a monk.

  4 Muriel

  She married either William, Count of La Ferté-Macé, or, more probably, Eudo de Capello, Viscount of the Côtentin (it is possible that she had an unnamed sister who married William, Count of La Ferté-Macé – below). Muriel perhaps had issue by Eudo:

  1 Muriel; she is said to have married Robert de la Haia (although there is no firm evidence for this).

  Muriel’s date of death is not known; she was buried in the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

  5 Sister (?)

  Her existence is uncertain and her name unknown. She was possibly the sister who married William, Count of La Ferté-Macé.

  6 Isabella

  She married Henry, Count of Séez, and had issue:

  1 St Osmun
d, Bishop of Salisbury (d.1099).


  Known as ‘the Bastard’, and later as ‘the Conqueror’, he was born in c.1027/8 at Falaise Castle in Normandy. He succeeded his father as Duke of Normandy on 22 July, 1035, despite his bastardy, as Duke Robert had no legitimate son. William became Count of Maine by right of conquest in 1063. He defeated Harold II at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October, 1066, and claimed the crown of England by right of inheritance (according to William, Edward the Confessor had promised to make him his successor) and by right of conquest. William I formally acceded to the throne of England on 25 December, 1066, and was crowned on that same day in Westminster Abbey, his being the first coronation to take place in the Abbey, which set a precedent for almost all future coronations.

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