Godwine Kingmaker: Part One of The Last Great Saxon Earls

General Fiction

By Mercedes Rochelle

Publisher : Top Hat Books

ABOUT Mercedes Rochelle

Mercedes Rochelle
I write Historical Fiction about 11th Century Britain. Come witness the tumultuous events surrounding the Viking Invasion with Canute the Great and his heirs. Visit late Anglo-Saxon England with Earl Godwine, Harold Godwineson, and King Edward the Confessor; see Macbeth's and Malcolm III's More...



Harold Godwineson, the Last Anglo-Saxon King, owed everything to his father. Who was this Godwine, first Earl of Wessex and known as the Kingmaker? Was he an unscrupulous schemer, using King and Witan to gain power? Or was he the greatest of all Saxon Earls, protector of the English against the hated Normans? The answer depends on who you ask. He was befriended by the Danes, raised up by Canute the Great, given an Earldom and a wife from the highest Danish ranks. He sired nine children, among them four Earls, a Queen and a future King. Along with his power came a struggle to keep his enemies at bay, and Godwine's best efforts were brought down by the misdeeds of his eldest son Swegn. Although he became father-in-law to a reluctant Edward the Confessor, his fortunes dwindled as the Normans gained prominence at court. Driven into exile, Godwine regathered his forces and came back even stronger, only to discover that his second son Harold was destined to surpass him in renown and glory.

1014 was a busy time for Londoners. The year before, Swegn Forkbeard, their unwelcome new king had died after only 5 months on the throne, and Aethelred wanted his crown back. But the Vikings were still in possession of the city, and they had other ideas. This time they were the ones defending London, and the attackers were Aethelred the Unready and his ally King Olaf of Norway. Aethelred and Olaf were clever fellows and they protected their ships with thatched roofs pulled from buildings downstream. The bridge was packed with stout Vikings throwing everything they had onto the Saxon ships, who were busy tying ropes to the bridge piles. They rowed with all their might, taking advantage of the tide, and were able to pull out the supports, tearing the bridge down and everyone on it.  London threw open the gates and welcomed their old king back in, and the Northmen went away, only to return two years later with Canute and start all over again. Many historians think this is where the nursery rhyme came from!