Gyrth Godwinson

Gyrth and his brother's death at the Battle of Hastings, scene 52 of the Bayeux Tapestry.
(Here have fallen dead Leofwine and Gyrth, brothers of King Harold)

Gyrth Godwinson (Old English: Gyrð Godƿinson) (c. 1032[1] – October 14, 1066) was the fourth son of Earl Godwin, and thus a younger brother of Harold II of England. He went with his eldest brother Swegen into exile to Flanders in 1051, but unlike Swegen he was able to return with the rest of the clan the following year. Along with his brothers Harold and Tostig, Gyrth was present at his father's death-bed.

Following the death of his father in April 1053, the Godwinsons managed to retain their hold on England. Harold inherited the Earldom of Wessex and became second in power only to the king. Gyrth was made Earl of East Anglia, Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire some time between 1055 and 1057.[2] Together with his brother Leofwine's Earldoms of Kent, Essex, Middlesex, Hertford, Surrey and probably Buckinghamshire[3] the Godwinsons now controlled the entirety of East England.

According to Orderic Vitalis and William of Malmesbury, he tried (ineffectually) to prevent Harold from engaging William of Normandy in battle, saying that he instead could lead the English forces and urging his brother not to break the oath which he had sworn to William confirming the latter's succession. Harold, however, ignored Gyrth's advice. Gyrth fought at and was killed in the Battle of Hastings alongside his brothers Harold and Leofwine.[4]

Gyrth was portrayed by actor Malcolm Webster in the two-part BBC TV play Conquest (1966), part of the series Theatre 625.

See Also

Gyrth Godwinson


  1. ^ Barlow, Vita Ædwardi pp. 7–8.
  2. ^ DeVries, The Norwegian Invasion of England in 1066, pp. 114–115.
  3. ^ DeVries, The Norwegian Invasion of England in 1066, pp. 115.
  4. ^ Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (D and E), 1066


Preceded by
Earl of East Anglia
Succeeded by
(Earldom dismantled with the Norman conquest)