Tostig Godwinson (c. 1026 – 25 September 1066) was an Anglo-Saxon Earl of Northumbria and brother of King Harold Godwinson. After being exiled by his brother, Tostig supported the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada's invasion of England, and was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
|Earl of Northumbria|
|Died||25 September 1066|
Stamford Bridge, England
|Spouse||Judith of Flanders|
|Issue||Skuli Tostisson Kongsfostre |
|House||House of Godwin|
|Father||Godwin, Earl of Wessex|
Tostig was the third son of the Anglo-Saxon nobleman Godwin, Earl of Wessex and Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, the daughter of Danish chieftain Thorgil Sprakling. In 1051, he married Judith of Flanders the only child of Baldwin IV, Count of Flanders by his second wife, Eleanor of Normandy. The Domesday Book recorded twenty-six vills or townships as being held by Earl Tostig forming the Manor of Hougun which now forms part of the county of Cumbria in north-west England. 
In the 19th century the antiquarian Edward Augustus Freeman posited a hypothesis claiming that Edward the Confessor was pursuing a policy of "Normanization" of England and by doing so was reducing the influence of the Godwins. In 1051 Earl Godwin's opposition to Edward's policies had brought England to the brink of civil war. Because of their opposition to the king the Godwins eventually were banished in 1051. The Freeman explanation, of why they were banished, has many critics,[a] as it does not fully explain the relationship between the Godwins and the king.[a]
The banished Godwin, Gytha and Tostig, together with Sweyn and Gyrth, sought refuge with the Count of Flanders. They returned to England the following year with armed forces, gaining support and compelling Edward to restore his earldom. Three years later in 1055, Tostig became the Earl of Northumbria upon the death of Earl Siward.
Tostig appears to have governed in Northumbria with some difficulty. He was never popular with the Northumbrian ruling class, a mix of Danish invaders and Anglo Saxon survivors of the last Norse invasion. Tostig was said to have been heavy-handed with those who resisted his rule, including the murder of several members of leading Northumbrian families. In late 1063 or early 1064, Tostig had Gamal, son of Orm and Ulf, son of Dolfin, assassinated when they visited him under safe conduct. Also, the Vita Edwardi, otherwise sympathetic to Tostig, states that he had 'repressed [the Northumbrians] with the heavy yoke of his rule'.
He was also frequently absent at the court of King Edward in the south, and possibly showed a lack of leadership against the raiding Scots. Their king was a personal friend of Tostig, and Tostig's unpopularity made it difficult to raise local levies to combat them. He resorted to using a strong force of Danish mercenaries (housecarles) as his main force, an expensive and resented policy (the housecarls' leaders were later slaughtered by rebels). Local biases probably also played a part. Tostig was from the south of England, a distinctly different culture from the north, which had not had a southern earl in several lifetimes. In 1063, still immersed in the confused local politics of Northumbria, his popularity apparently plummeted. Many of the inhabitants of Northumbria were Danes, who had enjoyed lesser taxation than in other parts of England. Yet the wars in Wales, of which Tostig's constituents were principal beneficiaries, needed to be paid for. Tostig had been a major commander in these wars attacking in the north while his brother Harold Godwinson marched up from the south.
On 3 October 1065, the thegns of York and the rest of Yorkshire descended on York and occupied the city. They killed Tostig's officials and supporters, then declared Tostig outlawed for his unlawful actions and sent for Morcar, younger brother of Edwin, Earl of Mercia. The northern rebels marched south to press their case with King Edward. They were joined at Northampton by Earl Edwin and his forces. There, they were met by Earl Harold, who had been sent by King Edward to negotiate with them and thus did not bring his forces. After Harold, by then the king's right-hand man, had spoken with the rebels at Northampton, he likely realized that Tostig would not be able to retain Northumbria. When he returned to Oxford, where the royal council was to meet on 28 October, he had probably already made up his mind.
Harold Godwinson persuaded King Edward the Confessor to agree to the demands of the rebels. Tostig was outlawed a short time later, possibly early in November, because he refused to accept his deposition as commanded by Edward. This led to the fatal confrontation and enmity between the two Godwinsons. At a meeting of the king and his council, Tostig publicly accused Harold of fomenting the rebellion. Harold was keen to unify England in the face of the grave threat from William of Normandy, who had openly declared his intention to take the English throne. It was likely that Harold had exiled his brother to ensure peace and loyalty in the north. Tostig, however, remained unconvinced and plotted vengeance.
Tostig took ship with his family and some loyal thegns and took refuge with his brother-in-law, Baldwin V, Count of Flanders. He even attempted to form an alliance with William. Baldwin provided him with a fleet and he landed in the Isle of Wight in May 1066, where he collected money and provisions. He raided the coast as far as Sandwich but was forced to retreat when King Harold called out land and naval forces. He moved north and after an unsuccessful attempt to get his brother Gyrth to join him, he raided Norfolk and Lincolnshire. The Earls Edwin and Morcar defeated him decisively. Deserted by his men, he fled to his sworn brother, King Malcolm III of Scotland. Tostig spent the summer of 1066 in Scotland.
He made contact with King Harald III Hardrada of Norway and persuaded him to invade England. One of the sagas claims that he sailed for Norway, and greatly impressed the Norwegian king and his court, managing to sway a decidedly unenthusiastic Harald, who had just concluded a long and inconclusive war with Denmark, into raising a levy to take the throne of England. With Hardrada's aid, Tostig sailed up the Humber and defeated Morcar and Edwin at Gate Fulford.
Hardrada's army invaded York, taking hostages after a peaceful surrender, and likely agreed with the local inhabitants to gather commandeered supplies at Stamford Bridge, near York, a conveniently central spot, well fed by streams and roads. King Harold Godwinson raced northward with an English army from London and, on 25 September 1066, surprised his brother Tostig and about 6,000 of his men, basking in the sun and awaiting supplies. The Norwegians and the Flemish mercenaries hired by Tostig were largely without armour and carried only personal weapons. The day was very hot and no resistance was expected. The remainder of the 11,000-man force remained guarding the Norse ships, beached miles away at Riccall. Tostig and most of his men were killed.
After his death at Stamford Bridge, it is believed, Tostig's body was taken to France and then buried at York Minster. Tostig's two sons took refuge in Norway, while his wife Judith married Duke Welf of Bavaria. The victorious Harold, at the head of troops, still exhausted by their previous fight with Tostig and Hardrada, would go to confront and suffer defeat at the hands of the Normans at the Battle of Hastings nineteen days later.
His two sons with Judith:
Popular (as opposed to scholarly) non-fiction books that cover Tostig's life and role in history include:
Tostig features in the novels The Last English King (2000), by Julian Rathbone (where he is depicted as Edward the Confessor's catamite), Harold, The Last of the Saxon Kings, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The King's Shadow, by Elizabeth Alder, The Interim King, by J. Colman McMillan, Lord of Sunset, by Parke Godwin, Warriors of the Dragon Gold, by Ray Bryant, and God's Concubine book 2 of The Troy Game series by Sara Douglass, The Bastard King by Jean Plaidy.
Tostig also appeared in the Channel 4 documentary, 1066: The Battle for Middle Earth.
Tostig is one of the main characters in 1066: What Fates Impose by G K Holloway (2013).
|Peerage of England|
| Earl of Northumbria
Events from the 1060s in England.1066
1066 (MLXVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar.Baldwin IV, Count of Flanders
Baldwin IV (980 – 30 May 1035), called the Bearded, was Count of Flanders from 987.Battle of Fulford
The Battle of Fulford was fought on the outskirts of the village of Fulford near York in England, on 20 September 1066, when King Harald III of Norway, also known as Harald Hardrada ("harðráði" in Old Norse, meaning "hard ruler"), and Tostig Godwinson, his English ally, fought and defeated the Northern Earls Edwin and Morcar.Tostig was Harold Godwinson's banished brother. He had allied with King Harald of Norway and possibly Duke William of Normandy but there is no record of the reasoning behind his invasions. The battle was a decisive victory for the Viking army. The earls of York could have hidden behind the walls of their city but instead they met the Viking army across a river. All day the English desperately tried to break the Viking shield wall but to no avail.
Tostig was opposed by Earl Morcar who had displaced him as Earl of Northumbria.Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire, in England on 25 September 1066, between an English army under King Harold Godwinson and an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada and the English king's brother Tostig Godwinson. After a bloody battle, both Hardrada and Tostig along with most of the Norwegians were killed. Although Harold Godwinson repelled the Norwegian invaders, his army was defeated by the Normans at Hastings less than three weeks later. The battle has traditionally been presented as symbolising the end of the Viking Age, although major Scandinavian campaigns in Britain and Ireland occurred in the following decades, such as those of King Sweyn Estrithson of Denmark in 1069–1070 and King Magnus Barefoot of Norway in 1098 and 1102–1103.Bleddyn ap Cynfyn
Bleddyn ap Cynfyn (Old Welsh: Bledẏnt uab Kẏnỽẏn; d. AD 1073), sometimes spelled Blethyn, was an 11th-century Welsh king. Harold Godwinson and Tostig Godwinson installed him as the ruler of Gwynedd on his father's death in 1063, during their destruction of the kingdom of Bleddyn's half-brother, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn. He became king of Powys on his brother Rhiwallon's death in 1069. His descendants continued to rule Powys as the House of Mathrafal.Cynan ab Iago
Cynan ab Iago (c. 1014 – c. 1063) was a Welsh prince of the House of Aberffraw sometimes credited with briefly reigning as King of Gwynedd. His father, Iago ab Idwal ap Meurig, had been king before him and his son, Gruffudd, was king after him.
Iago was King of Gwynedd from 1023 to 1039 but was killed (possibly by his own men) while Cynan was still young. The throne was seized by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, a member of a cadet branch of the royal dynasty. Cynan fled to Ireland and took refuge in the Viking settlement at Dublin. He married Ragnailt, the daughter of its King Olaf Sigtryggsson and granddaughter of King Sigtrygg Silkbeard. Ragnailt appeared on the list of the "Fair Women of Ireland" in the Book of Leinster and was also descended from Brian Boru.
Cynan may have died fairly soon after the birth of their son Gruffudd, as the 13th-century History of Gruffydd ap Cynan details Cynan's ancestry but omits him from its account of Gruffudd's youth. Instead, Gruffudd's mother tells him about his father and the patrimony he should claim across the sea. Following two major Saxon invasions under Harold and Tostig Godwinson, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was killed in 1063: the later Welsh Brut y Tywysogion reported he was done in by his own men, while the Ulster Chronicle stated he was killed by Cynan ab Iago. This may account for later records in Gwynedd calling Cynan a king or, alternatively, it may simply have been an honorary title on account of his family. If Cynan ruled, it was very briefly, for Bleddyn ap Cynfyn was installed by the Saxons the same year.Edwin, Earl of Mercia
Edwin (Old English: Ēadwine) (died 1071) was the elder brother of Morcar, Earl of Northumbria, son of Ælfgār, Earl of Mercia and grandson of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. He succeeded to his father's title and responsibilities on Ælfgār's death in 1062. He appears as Earl Edwin (Eduin comes) in the Domesday Book.His younger brother, Morcar was elected Earl of Northumbria when Tostig Godwinson was ejected by the Northumbrians (October 3, 1065). Tostig had been accused of robbing churches, depriving men of their lands and lives, and acting against the law.
In 1066 Tostig raided in Mercia but was repulsed by Edwin and Morcar and fled to Scotland. Later in the year he returned, accompanied by King Harald Hardrada of Norway at the head of a huge Norwegian army, which defeated Edwin and Morcar at the Battle of Fulford near York (September 20). Harald and Tostig were in turn defeated and slain by Harold Godwinson's army, five days later at the Battle of Stamford Bridge (September 25). After Harold's death at the Battle of Hastings, where Edwin and Morcar were absent, they were the principal supporters of a new regime under Edgar the Ætheling, though they had wished the public to elect one of them king, but failed to take effective steps against the invading Normans and soon submitted to Duke William.
In 1068, Edwin and Morcar attempted to raise a rebellion in Mercia but swiftly submitted when William moved against them. Edwin died in 1071; while making his way to Scotland he was betrayed by his own retinue to the Normans and killed.
Edwin's sister, Ealdgyth, had been married to Harold Godwinson until the latter's death at Hastings on 14 October 1066.
Edwin's lands centred at Gilling West in his brother's Northumbrian earldom, were given to Alain Le Roux (also known as Alan Rufus) in 1071 or perhaps earlier, and the district was renamed Richmondshire, or the Honour of Richmond.
Edwin was portrayed by Adam Bareham in the TV drama Blood Royal: William the Conqueror (1990). He is mentioned in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland when the mouse attempts to dry itself and other characters by reciting a dry example of English history.Eleanor of Normandy
Eleanor of Normandy (1010 - 1071) was a Countess consort of Flanders.
She was the daughter of Richard II, Duke of Normandy. She was born between the years 1011 and 1013 in Normandy, the daughter of Richard and his wife, Judith of Brittany. She had two sisters and three brothers, including Robert I, Duke of Normandy, whose illegitimate son was William the Conqueror a.k.a. King William I of England. In 1017, when Eleanor was still a child, her mother Judith died. Duke Richard married secondly Poppa of Envermeu, by whom he had two more sons.
In 1031 she married, as his second wife, Baldwin IV, Count of Flanders, who was about 30 years her senior. He had a son and heir, Baldwin, by his first marriage to Ogive of Luxembourg. Eleanor was styled Countess of Flanders upon her marriage to Baldwin, and together they had one daughter:
Judith (1033 – 5 March 1094), married firstly Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumbria, by whom she allegedly had issue; and secondly Welf I, Duke of Bavaria, by whom she had surviving issue.Eleanor died in Flanders sometime after 1071. Her husband had died in 1035, two years after the birth of their only child.
Despite her common nomenclature it is not certain that Eleanor was her proper name. Eleanor of Aquitaine, who lived a century later (and married as her second husband Henry II of England, the great-great-grandson of Eleanor of Normandy's brother Robert), is the first individual in recorded history known to bear the name Eleanor.Estrid Bjørnsdotter
Estrid Bjørnsdotter also called Estrid Byrdasvend (12th century) was a Norwegian Queen consort, spouse of King Magnus V of Norway.
Estrid Bjørnsdotter was the daughter of Björn Byrdasvend and Rangrid Guttormsdotter, who was a possible descendant of Tostig Godwinson, the brother of the last Anglo-Saxon King of England Harold Godwinson. She was the widow of Tore Skinnfeld. She later married King Magnus V in the year of 1170, and thereby became queen of Norway.Gytha Thorkelsdóttir
Gytha Thorkelsdóttir (Old English: Gȳða Þorkelsdōttir, c. 997 – c. 1069), also called Githa, was a Danish noblewoman. She was the mother of King Harold Godwinson and of Edith of Wessex, queen consort of King Edward the Confessor of England.House of Godwin
The House of Godwin was an Anglo-Saxon (in later generations Anglo-Danish or Anglo-Norse) family, one of the leading noble families in England during the last 50 years before the Norman Conquest. Its most famous member was Harold Godwinson, king of England for nine months in 1066.
The founder of the family's greatness, Earl Godwin, was raised from comparative obscurity by king Cnut and given the earldom of Wessex around the year 1020. He retained his position during the reigns of Cnut's sons Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut, and consolidated it when king Edward the Confessor conferred earldoms on Sweyn and Harold, Godwin's two eldest sons by his Danish wife, Gytha. The family survived a short-lived attempt by the king to exile them. After Godwin's death his sons held the earldoms of Wessex, East Anglia, and later Northumbria; Harold in particular became the most powerful man in England, eclipsing the power of the king. When Edward the Confessor died childless in 1066 he was succeeded by Harold Godwinson. Harold gained a great victory over the Norwegian invader Harald Hardrada and his own estranged brother Tostig Godwinson at the battle of Stamford Bridge. Three weeks later, with his defeat and death at the battle of Hastings, Anglo-Saxon self-rule came to an end. Later generations of the family were scattered around northern Europe, one branch prospering in Norway and furnishing that country with one of its kings, Inge II, and a pretender to the throne, Skule Bårdsson. Through female lines the Godwin family are ancestors of most of the royal houses of modern Europe.Inge II of Norway
Inge II (Norwegian: Inge Bårdsson, Old Norse: Ingi Bárðarson; 1185 – 23 April 1217) was King of Norway from 1204 to 1217. His reign was within the later stages of the period known in Norwegian history as the age of civil wars. Inge was the king of the birkebeiner faction. The conclusion of the settlement of Kvitsøy with the bagler faction in 1208 led to peace for the last nine years of Inge’s reign, at the price of Inge and the birkebeiner recognising bagler rule over Viken (the Oslofjord area).Judith of Flanders (died 1095)
Judith of Flanders (1030-35 to 5 March 1095) was, by her successive marriages to Tostig Godwinson and Welf I, Countess of Northumbria and Duchess of Bavaria.
She was the owner of many books and illuminated manuscripts, which she bequeathed to Weingarten Abbey (two of which are now held at the Pierpont Morgan Library).Manor of Hougun
The Manor of Hougun is the historic name for an area which now forms part of the county of Cumbria in north-west England. Of the three most northern counties of England surveyed in the Domesday Book of 1086 (Northumbria, Durham and Cumbria), only the southern band of land in the south of Cumbria was recorded. The westernmost entries for Cumbria, covering the Duddon and Furness Peninsulas are largely recorded as part of the Manor of Hougun. The entry in Domesday Book covering Hougun refers to the time (ca. 1060) when it was held by Tostig Godwinson (c. 1026 – 25 September 1066), Earl of Northumbria.Newton-in-Furness
Newton is a small village in the English county of Cumbria. It is located on the Furness peninsula north-east of the port of Barrow-in-Furness and south of the town of Dalton-in-Furness.
Newton was listed in the Domesday Book as being one of the vills or townships forming the Manor of Hougun which was held by Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumbria.Sky News Presenter Steve Dixon was born in the village, as was Richard T. Slone, a painter. Both were in the same year at school and were educated firstly in Newton and then in Dalton-in-Furness.Osbeorn Bulax
Osbeorn (died c. 1054), given the nickname Bulax, was the son of Siward, Earl of Northumbria (died 1055). He is one of two known sons — probably the older — of Siward. While it is normally assumed he was the son of Siward's Bamburgh wife Ælfflæd, it has been suggested by William Kapelle that Osbeorn's mother was not Ælfflæd. The nickname "Bulax" probably represents the Old Norse term for "Poleaxe".
According to the most reliable sources, he died at the Battle of the Seven Sleepers, fought somewhere in Scotland between Siward and Mac Bethad mac Findlaích, King of the Scots, in 1054. Under this year, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, recension D, related that: "At this time earl Siward went with a great army into Scotland, with both fleet and a land-force; and fought against the Scots, and put to flight the king Mac Bethad, and slew all that were best in the land, and brought thence much war-spoil, such as no man obtained before; And there were slain his son Osbeorn, and his sister's son Siward, and some of his housecarls, and also of the king's, on the day of the Seven Sleepers (July 27)." This battle was fought somewhere in Scotland north of the Firth of Forth, and is known variously as the "Battle of the Seven Sleepers" or the "Battle of Dunsinane". The location Dunsinane is not accepted as historical by modern historians, resting as it does on later medieval accounts. The earliest mention of Dunsinane as the location of the battle being the early 15th-century account by Andrew of Wyntoun.In recension C of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the names of the slain are omitted, an omission repeated by the Chronicle of John of Worcester.
Henry of Huntingdon related that Osbeorn had been sent to Scotland ahead of Siward:"[Siward] sent his son to acquire Scotland. And when they reported to his father that he had been slain in battle, [Siward] said, 'Did he receive the mortal wound in front of his body, or behind?' The messengers said. 'In front'. And he replied: 'I rejoice wholly, for I would deem myself or my son worthy of no meaner death'. Siward therefore marched into Scotland and conquered the king battle ... " Another legendary account, in the Vita et Passio Waldevi, a hagiography of Osbeorn's brother Waltheof, claimed that Osbeorn, called "Osbert Bulax", was killed by Northumbrians while his father was absent in Scotland. The accounts in Henry of Huntingdon and the Vita et Passio Waldevi are thought to be derived from a saga devoted to the life of Earl Siward.Geoffrey Gaimar's account related activity in 1053, an agreement made between Siward and Mac Bethad, but a death of Osbeorn is not mentioned.Osbeorn's death left Siward's legacy in danger. When he died the following year, his only surviving son Waltheof (Osbeorns baby brother) was underage and thus did not succeed immediately to the whole territory ruled by Siward, Northumbria going instead to Tostig Godwinson.Osbeorn Bulax was fictionalised as Young Siward in the tragedy Macbeth by William Shakespeare.Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn
Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn (c. 1020 – c. 1069) was a Welsh King. the son of Cynfyn ap Gwerstan and brother of King Bleddyn of Powys. Through his mother Angharad, he was half-brother to King Gruffydd ap Llywelyn as well. Following the 1063 invasion of Wales by Harold and Tostig Godwinson that overthrew Gruffydd, Rhiwallon and Bleddyn jointly received Powys and Gwynedd on condition of faithfully serving Edward the Confessor "everywhere by water and by land".
In August 1067, Rhiwallon and Bleddyn joined Eadric the Wild in an attack upon Herefordshire as part of the Saxon resistance to the recent Norman Conquest of England. In 1069 or 1070, the two brothers fought the battle of Battle of Mechain against Gruffydd's sons Maredudd and Idwal. Though victorious, Rhiwallon was slain in battle and left Bleddyn sole prince of North Wales.Thorgils Skarthi
Thorgils Skarthi (hare-lip) (Old Norse: Þorgils Skarði) was a Viking leader and poet. He is associated with the founding of Scarborough, England.Thorgils Skarthi is reputed to have founded Skarðaborg in North Yorkshire, England about 966. The new settlement was later burned to the ground by Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumbria and Lord of the Manor of Hougun. In 1066, Tostig Godwinson had joined forces with King Harald Hardrada of Norway in an invasion of England. They fired fire bales from the hill into Skarðaborg. The community was left abandoned, those who remained were slain and all their belongings seized. The community was subsequently rebuilt and became known as Scarborough.Thorgils Skarthi is described in the Kormáks saga which is principally about his brother, the Icelandic skald, Kormákr Ögmundarson who was the court poet of Norwegian nobleman Sigurd Haakonsson.
English chronicler Robert Mannyng of Brunne in his book Story of Inglande (1338) quoted from two lost romances about Þorgils Skarði, including that he had a brother called Fleyn. If so, Kormákr may have had the nickname Fleinn. In that case he may have founded Flamborough in Yorkshire (from Old Norse Fleinaborg). Thorgils and Kormákr came to England (ca. 965) not long after the expedition of King Harald Greycloak of Norway to Bjarmaland, today the area of Arkhangelsk in northern Russia.