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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Background to the Tapestry: A King, an Archbishop and an Earl, Part 5

In which Godwin returns from exile and exacts his revenge upon the Archbishop. 

In the previous episode, we saw Earl Godwin of Wessex and his family have their lives his  thrown into turmoil, caused by the apparent connivance of King Edward and his friend, the Norman Archbishop Robert and the King's brother-in-law Eustace of Boulogne. They had lost support for their cause when many of their man either balked at the idea of a civil war - or were summoned as King's thegns to Edward's side. These would have been men who lived within Godwin's jurisdiction but owed their land to the King, therefore if they had refused the summons they could have been tried for treason. Godwin and his sons must have decided that the best way forward for them was to gather up as much of their treasure and flee. Tostig might have already been wed to Judith of Flanders at this stage and the family would have found refuge at the court of her brother Baldwin . They decided to double their chances by splitting up into two groups, Harold and his younger brother Leofwin took Swegn's ship to Ireland  to the court of  MacDiarmid whilst the rest of the family went to Baldwin in Flanders. The Queen, also a Godwin, took her chances at court whilst the youngest son Wulfnoth and Swegn's son Hakon were taken as hostages into the Queen's household first, then into the Archbishop's perhaps when Edith her self was sent to a nunnery by the King.

According to David Hume (The History of England, Volume I ), the Count of Flanders allowed Godwin to purchase ships from his harbour and man them with mercenaries and those of his followers that had arrived from England with him. The King got to hear about Godwin's activities in Flanders and had set up a fleet of his own. Here it might be conjectured that Godwin  practiced his cunning, by sailing out toward Sandwich harbour. As he expected, the King's fleet set sail out to meet them. He turned tail and sailed back with his forces to Flanders. The King and his counsel felt safe in the knowledge that the Earl had fled from their naval blockade and Edward allowed his fleet to stand down, thinking that the Earl would not dare to attempt an invasion again. As soon as Godwin felt it was convenient, he set sail once more with his force, this time to the Isle of Wight. There he met up with Harold and Leofwin who arrived with 9 ships and an army of Irish mercenaries in his pay. Harold had  landed simultaneously in Porlock and ravaged the lands there. He had to fight hard against those Somerset and Devonshire men who opposed him, killing some '30 good thegns' and putting the rest to flight. Some of the locals may have augmented his army of Irish mercenaries. Landing in the Isle of Wight, Godwin may have boosted his support even more as the Isle was in their former jurisdiction of Wessex. He then went on having met up with Harold and Leofwin, to the mainland gathering more men to him. Ian Walker states in his book Harold: The last Anglo-Saxon King, his belief that that because Godwin returned with such a large fleet, he must have men who had also followed him into exile. This is very plausible. The C Chronicle stated that Godwin had come to the land before the King's fleet knew about them and 'enticed' all  the boat men from Kent and Hastings and along the coasts of Sussex and also men of Surrey so that when he embarked later on his mission to regain his lands, they were already waiting to join him to 'live and die' with him.

Meanwhile during the Godwinsons exile, those men who had turned  from Godwin, were not happy with the increasing influence at court of the King's Norman advisors. Robert de Jumieges was not the all people's original choice for Archbishop and the Norman's were advancing  within the church. The Bishops of London and Dorchester were also Normans.  Despite their unpopularity with the Northern Earls, the Godwins  were much loved in the south. One would imagine that the men of Dover would have had their morale buoyed by the Earl's refusal to punish them. The Duke of Normandy's visit and those foreign officials who were influencing the King toward a possible Norman succession, may have disheartened the English who were not keen to see a foreigner with no blood tie to the House of Wessex on the throne. The arrival of Godwin on English shores again may have been a Godsend for some, for he found that many men rallied to him, promising to aid him to seek justice for him and his family. With this large body of men, the Godwinsons marched upon London and Godwin threw himself upon his knees at the King and declared his loyalty and that he had no wish to cause him harm and that he knew that the King had been counselled evilly. The King appears to have been under the illusion that he was still being supported by the northern earls who had loyally stood by his side last time, but he was wrong. They refused to take Godwin into custody and with Bishop Stigand as go-between, they advised the King to listen to the Earl's plea. According to Walker, Godwin most likely had sent Swegn on a pilgrimage whilst they were in exile to atone for his sins, believing that Edward would be more likely to look favourably on a reconciliation if a penitent Swegn was away seeking forgiveness. He was to die on that pilgrimage anyway, ridding his father of the problem.

The King's court was in chaos. On one side he was being advised by the foreign counsel against  Godwin's return and now on the other, he was being counselled to negotiate and come to terms with him. The Norman camp must have continued to try to maintain their grip on the King, however Bishop Stigand's negotiations brought about a truce and a meeting of the Witan was called for the next day. Archbishop Robert knew the game was up and pre-empted Godwin's wrath by fleeing London with his fellow Norman bishops, Ulf and William and other 'Frenchmen', as the Abingdon (C) chronicle claims. He went across the sea to Normandy. 

During the great council meeting, Earl Godwin set out his case and declared his innocence and that of his sons. The King, whether he liked it or not, had no option but to restore Godwin and the rest of his family to their estates and Edith Godwinson was released from her incarceration at Wilton Abbey and restored  as his Queen once more. As well as the family's restoration, the witan passed judgement over those who sought to do evil to the kingdom by causing  the unrest and accusing the Godwinsons  falsely. Of course the King was found to be blameless and the Norman camp were easy scapegoats, most having already fled. Those French and Normans of Herefordshire were also sent packing having been given safe conduct by Earl Leofric to go north to Scotland. But not all the foreigners were forced out; William the Bishop of London was eventually allowed to return and the King's nephew, Ralph de Mantes were just some who were permitted to stay. It seems that only those who were mostly responsible for causing the dispute between the King and his leading Earl were forced out.

So at last Godwin had his day and his revenge must have felt very satisfying indeed. It was remarkable that Godwin, who had always been able to avoid such trouble, had managed to bounce back from the devastating effect of exile to sweep back in a wind of fury across the sea and ravage his way back into office like a tornado, as if nothing had ever happened. Robert Champart returned to Jumieges, but with him he was to take the most precious things that Godwin might have possessed. Champart might have been outwitted by Godwin, but he was not going down in defeat without taking something of Godwin's with him.

Find out in the final episode - the Aftermath - what happens next.

Bates D (2004) William the Conqueror, The History Press.

Barlow F (2003) The Godwins: The Rise and Fall of a Noble Dynasty (The Medieval World), Longman.

Barlow F (1997) Edward the Confessor (2nd ed) Yale University Press, US.  
Stenton F (1971) Anglo Saxon England (3rd Ed) Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Swanton M (2000) The Anglo Saxon Chronicles (2nd ed) Phoenix Press, London.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A Tale of a King, an Archbishop and an Earl: Part 4

The Background to the Tapestry: A King, an Archbishop and an Earl, Part 4

In which the Godwins return to power, Robert Champart flees their retribution and Edward throws in the towel.

The Godwins were forced into exile in the autumn of 1051. Harold and younger brother Leofwin went west to find Swegn's ship to take them to the court of Macdiarmid in Ireland to drum up support there. The rest of the family fled to Flanders to seek refuge with Count Baldwin IV, that is at least nearly all of the rest of them.The ones left behind were Queen Edith and the hostages,  Godwin's youngest son Wulfnoth and the boy believed to have been the son of Swegn, Hakon. Edith was eventually sent packing to a nunnery. Her decision to stay loyal to her husband would backfire on her. Edward might have beeen prepared to keep her at first but whatever happened, she eventually had to go. Robert Champart, also known as Robert de Jumieges might have had other ideas for a new wife for Edward, perhaps a Norman alliance. As for Hakon and Wulfnoth, Godwin and Swegn were never to see their boys again.
  Champart had recently been conscecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury, a decision that had angered Godwin and the supporters of the popular candidate for the job, Aelfric as reported  here in Part One. At sometime in 1051, either before or after the Dover incident and Godwin's exile, Robert travelled to Rome to recieve his bishop's pallium from the Pope. Some Norman sources state that he sought out Duke William in Normandy on his way back and was opening negotiations up on Edward's behalf to strengthen ties between Edward and William. If he could get the Duke on side, Edward could save the cost of manning and maintaining the warships necessary to ward off raids from Vikings  launching their attacks from ports in Normandy. In return for William's support some say that Champart, acting on Edward's behalf offered William the heirdom to the crown of England. There is no evidence to say that William had any part in the plot to oust Godwin, but if Champart truly did indeed visit William at this time, he might well have learned of the man's unpopularity  from Robert. Whether Eustace of Boulogne was at William's court at this time is not known but the events that followed the Dover Incident and subsequent exiling of Godwin seem very coincidental indeed.
The only one of the Anglo Saxon chronicle to report William's visit to Edward's court was the D Chronicle:

" Then soon Earl William came from beyond the sea with a great troop of French men and
the King recieved him and as many of his companions as suited him, and let him go again."   

This was also reported by Florence. Strangely one can only wonder why such an important visit was not recorded in any of the other chronicles.  Some historians, such as Ian Walker, have expressed their belief that the visit never took place and that it was Norman propaganda that inserted the comment at a later date after 1066. As we do not know for sure that Champart went to Normandy at that time, I think it is safe to say that the visit could well have happened. And William did not pluck the claim that Edward had offered him the crown of England out of the air. Something must have happened or been said in order for the seed to have been planted within the Duke's mind all those years ago. Why else would he embark on such a major mission to wrest his crown from Harold Godwinson years later in 1066?

So a series of consequences has emerged, we see Godwin gradually becoming more and more out of favour with the King; whisperings of treason about Godwin in Edward's ear by the Earl's number one enemy, Robert Champart; the possibility of Champart  talking  with William of Normandy about the succession to the English throne; then Eustace of Boulogne causes a fracas in Dover that most likely went worse than he thought it would (men dying on both sides) and the consequent exiling of a  recalcitrant Earl Godwin. Following on from that, we have a youthful William of Normandy cross the seas as if he has been summoned by the King who lets "him go again." Contrived? Perhaps. The evidence does not confirm this solidly, however one could be forgiven for the conjecture that from these events, something was afoot in the court of Edward in 1051 that was not favourable to the Godwins. Or perhaps it was nothing more than a series of coincidences, in any case, whatever it was, it gave Edward a brief interlude from Godwin's control.

For 9 months or so Edward was free from the Yoke of Godwin. In that time, he put aside his wife in a nunnery, most likely on the advice of Champart. Edith's Encommium states that she was sent away with an escort for  her own safety and given consideration as to her comfort, however another source states that she was stripped of all her lands and wealth and sent packing with only her maid for company. It is also possible that Edward may have been considering a new marriage alliance urged on by the Normans who were now counselling him. If this was so, there does not seem to have been any moves made towards this. Either Edward was not in a hurry to wed another woman having just got rid of one, or he was simply paying lip service to those around him. Champart might have been dissapointed at the pace of change, however he was about to have a rude awakening in the form of Godwin's return.

In the next episode we see what happened on Godwin's return

Apart from the sources mentioned references are from:

Barlow F (1997) Edward the Confessor (2nd ed) Yale University Press, US.  
Stenton F (1971) Anglo Saxon England (3rd Ed) Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Swanton M (2000) The Anglo Saxon Chronicles (2nd ed) Phoenix Press, London.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Story: Scene 3

Interpreting The Tapestry: Scene by Scene

Scene 3

Harold's ship leaves Bosham after he and his companions have feasted and rested. The here shows Harold and his men leaving his manor and wading into the sea to the prepared ship. Harold his carrying his dog and a hawk as does the fellow next to him. They are either gifts for the Duke of Normandy or he brings them because he is eager to hunt during the journey.

Next we see Harold's boat sailing out with around 14 men aboard. these were obviously Harold's handpicked men, his bodyguard, the well-trained huscarles. They are obvioulsy not expecting trouble for they bear no armour or arms. It appears that there may have been another boat load of men with him, for the boat in front is very different from the boat behind, although this is pretty consistent with theTapestry's habit of changing the style and colour of the same image. However there is also a boat that carries Harold and his men to the shore at Ponthieu that appears not to have a sail so he may have brought more than one boat with him.

According to the Norman sources, as we know, Edward has sent Harold on a journey to Normandy, to meet with Edward's second cousin, William, Duke of that land. Harold's mission was allegedly to confirm that the English crown would belong to the Duke upon the King of England's death.

Eventually they reach Ponthieu, the tapestry gives no indication that they have been blown of course, however if Normandy was there destination then perhaps they have. Sailing in the 11thc relied on engaging a sail with the wind and it was not uncommon for boats to get blown off course, though Harold was an experienced sailor having commanded Edward's Royal fleet in his youth. Interestingly, the borders of the Bayeux Tapestry are said to be a guide for the main piece but there doesn't seem to be any relevance in the imagery until we see the men with swords, indicating that as Harold and his men were alighting their ship, a fight ensued with Guy of Ponthieu's men on the shore.

William de Jumièges was a contempory chronicler and man of the Duke's. He stated that Harold landed in Ponthieu and was taken prisoner by Count Guy. The Bayeux Tapestry appears to reflect this and Harold is seen being manhandled as a man on a horse gives orders.

Ponthieu is a state to the north of Normandy. It was never part of the land that was handed over to the founders of the duchy and they are at this time, very proud of the fact that they successfully resisted any attempt to make them such. Their many songs and poems pay testimony to their wars with the Pagan invaders, then the religion of the ancestors of the Christian Normans. Guy of Ponthieu, or Wido, as he is referred to on the Bayeux Tapestry, had succeeded his brother Enguerrand in 1053 as count. Enguerrand had been married to Adelaide, William of Normandy's sister but around 1050, the marriage was anulled on the grounds of consanguinity. Another alliance had been forged between William of Talou, who was half uncle to William, and Enguerrand's sister. William of Talou challenged his nephew's right to the dukedom but the younger William had the backing of his great uncle Robert, powerful Archbishop of Rouen. As he was a brother-by-marriage to the Ponthieu brothers, they backed him in his rebellion. Of course this did not endear the brothers to William in the 1050s. It is interesting to note here as an aside, that the earliest surviving account of the Battle of Hastings was written by the brothers' uncle, Bishop Guy de Amiens. In 1053, William of Talou built the Castle of Arques and holed himself up there whilst William of Normandy sent an army to lay seige to it, allowing him and the rest of his army to be able to deal with other problems elsewhere on his borders, such as the French King. His loyal brother-in-law, Enguerrand was killed coming to the aid of Talou. Henry, the French king withdrew and William of Talou surrendered Arques and was sent into exile. This is when Guy took over as comites in Ponthieu.
In 1054, Henry decides to march into Normandy to bring his errant vassal to heel. His brother leads another army that contains Guy and his younger brother Waleran who is killed and Guy captured when they are ambushed.Guy spends two years imprisoned in Normandy whilst his uncle, the Bishop of Amiens sees to the running of his county. King Henry I of France was again defeated for the last time.
In 1056, Guy is released. William has been merciful, however, Guy is now his vassal and would have sworn an oath of allegiance to his new master. So why did Guy de Ponthieu take Harold prisoner when the Englishman, probably washed off course, lands on his beachhead;  especially when he knew what it was like to be held against his will.
According to a custom dating back to the 9thc, the counts of Ponthieu were able to ransom any persons, ships or property that landed upon their shore. The two men would have already met in 1056 at St Omer when they both bore witness on a charter for Eustace of Boulogne. Harold was a well travelled man who was thought to have been visiting Europe at that time on his way to meet with the nephew of King Edward, known as Edward the Exile, whom he may have been charged with bringing back to England. It is of course not known whether or not the men had discourse with one another. We can speculate that perhaps they did not like each other, or Guy did not like Harold, but most people spoke well of Harold. He was amiable, witty, intelligent, well read and could speak many languages. He may have been very charming to the women and no doubt many women would have admired these qualities. It might have had nothing to do with whether or not Guy disliked Harold; he was money as far as the greedy Count was concerned and whether or not he liked him was by the by. 

By 1064 (we cannot be sure of the exact date but most historians agree it was in this year) when Harold arrived on Ponthieu's shore, Guy might well have been an embittered man by this time. He had spent two years in a Norman dungeon, was humiliated and taught a harsh lesson by the Duke; his brothers had been killed in wars with Normandy and his own county reduced to a client-state of William's. Now here comes along a nice treasure for him, the wealthy Earl of Wessex. Many may have heard that Harold Godwinson was the power behind King Edward's throne. Next to the King he was the richest man in the land.And likely much richer than Guy de Ponthieu. Harold had land holdings all over England. His wife, Eadgyth Swanneck also had lands a plenty. Guy was well known for gaining funds through seizing shipments that came to his lands. Now here was the biggest prize of all.


Bates D (2004) William the Conqueror, The History Press.

Barlow F (2003) The Godwins: The Rise and Fall of a Noble Dynasty (The Medieval World), Longman.

Bridgeford A (2006) 1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry, Walker & Co.


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

My Liebster Award!

The lovely Karen Aminadra has tagged me in the Leibster  Award blog hop. Thanks for choosing me Karen. This is a great way of getting readers to know you better and first up I have to post 11 random facts about myself. Following these, are the questions that Karen has asked me to answer. Hope you guys find this intersting!    
Random fact numero um!
I was brought up in South Australia until I was 16. 
Random fact numero dois!
I am half Portugese.                                                                         
Random fact numero três!
I sing like an ostrich on heat.
Random fact numero quatro!
I once met actress Mollie Sugden from Are You Being Served signing autographs and asked her how her pussy was.
Random fact numero cinco!
I was named after 50's&60's actress Paula Prentiss
Random fact numero seis!
I have a Dane Axe in my car.
Random fact numero sete!
I used to play the flute and saxaphone when i was a teen.
Random fact numero oito!
I hate spiders.
Random fact numero nove!
I once had two chickens called Charles and Charlotte. We ate them for Christmas.
Random fact numero dez!
I am addicted to Chilli tos.                                     
Random fact numero onze!
My dream is to visit Norway, the land of my distant ancestors.     

Here are the Questions that Karen has asked me.

1) Do you speak another language?
I dont fluently speak another language but I can speak a smattering of Portuguese and French and am trying to get a grip on Olde English. I wish we English could speak Olde English like the Welsh speak Welsh! Lol!
2)Is there a place in the world that you have always wanted to visit? Where/What is it?
I have always wanted to visit the Pyramids in Egypt's Valley of the Kings but now I feel a need to visit Norway which we Loftings believe to be the place of our ancestors. Perhpas one day we will do a mass Lofting expedition. The Pyramids will always be one of the things to do before i die though.
3)If you could go back in time, where would you go and why?
There are many places and events that I would like to go back to. I guess the most major one would be to experience what it was like to be in a battle without getting hurt lol. And perhaps to be a worker in the Tower when the princes went missing. Someone must have known what happened to them and who killed them and why. It looks increasingly like Richard did do it, but I really would like to know for certain.
4)If you could go back in time in your own lifetime, what would you do? Would you change anything?
There are some very dark things that I would change, but if I changed too much my life might have gone so differently, I would not have had the beautiful kids I have today. so some of the dark things would have to stay, however all the awful things I have experienced in my life have made me the person I am today. As they say, what doesnt kill you makes  you stronger!    

5)Which of the characters you have written about is your favourite and why?
It really has to be my main character Wulfhere. He is quite flawed and makes terrible mistakes in his life but he always tries to do the right things for everyone. Essentially he is very moralistic but he cannot seem to put his priciples consistently into action. As time goes on, he becomes more and more flawed as his efforts only serve to perpetuate his mistakes.
6)Is there someone you would love to put in one of  your novels and kill off? I wont ask who just tell us why?
Karen I have no problem divulging who. It would be William the Conqueror. Unfortunately if i gave him the death i'd like to give him I would be changing history. LOL. Why? Because he devastated England and its people with such terrible rapaciousness and disregard for English culture and way of life.
7)Are you nostalgic? What or when for?
I guess I often get nostalgic thinking about growing up in OZ. I had a fantastic childhood over there. It was a safe, happy time for me, full of adventure and fun and we had a lovely community growing up in our street.
8)What was your favourite band/group/singer when you were growing up?
Now to show my age! As I grew up in Australia, I was a great fan of a band who called themselves Sherbet. I loved them so much it hurt! My favourite singer was David Essex, those blue eyes and dark hair absolutely hypnotised me! He wasnt a great singer but his music was catchy and he was a lovely man.
9)Who was your first kiss with?
It was a boy at my ballroom dancing class. He was about 2 years older than me and i was only 11. I remember it was not very nice. I felt like i was being swallowed.
10)Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? what is it and why?
Yes, I already have a modern day chiller/thriller in mind put on hold at the moment called Killing the Sandman.
11)What is the one thing in the world that you cannot live without and why?
I think it has to be my computer! It keeps me in touch with people, places and things! 


Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Tale of a King, an Archbishop and an Earl: Part 3

The Background to the Tapestry: A King, an Archbishop and an Earl, Part 3.

In which the relationship between the three men completely breaks down.

In the first two episodes of this series, we have looked at the backgrounds of each men and they're relationship to each other. When Edward arrived back in England to take the crown after his half brother Harthacnut's demise, he was a mature man probably in his late thirties and most likely by this time quite an embittered man. He despised his mother for her abandonment of him and his siblings in favour of the man who brought about the downfall of his father Aethelred's regime and he must have already heard the rumours that Godwin, the Earl of Wessex had been responsible for his brother Alfred's death earlier, which would have coloured his opinion of the man already. At this time, Robert Champart, the King's close  friend and Norman advisor, appeared to be viewing Godwin as a rival. Godwin wanted a closer relationship to the King and was pressing for Edward to marry his daughter Edith from the outset of his crowning, I would imagine. Edward dallied over this marriage and one can imagine Godwin's forbearance and patience as Edward played the waiting game until he finally agreed to marry Edith Godwinsdottor in1045.
It was around 1046 that we see Robert Champart witnessing documents for the first time as Bishop of London. Around the early 50's, Robert and Godwin's enmity toward each other was becoming evident as Champart began accusing Godwin of misappropriating church land and they began having public rows. Robert was starting to whisper poison about Godwin in the King's ear that he had got rid of Alfred, his brother, and now he was hoping to get rid of him. So Edward was cultivating  his dislike of Godwin  with the help of his Norman counsellors and to increase Godwin's frustration at Edward's reliance on the Norman camp in his court, Edward made Robert Archbishop of Canterbury.
There were two important issues that exasperated the situation between the two men further; the behaviour of Swegn, Godwin's eldest son and the Dover Incident. Swegn's insubordinate behaviour did nothing to improve relations between the King and his father and the Dover Incident was to bring things to a mighty head as we shall see:

Swegn Godwinson - Bad Boy of Wessex
Swegn was the black sheep of the Godwin family. His crimes were mainly a) allying himself with the Welsh Gruffydd of Gwynedd who was a natural enemy of the Mercian ruling house b) kidnapping the Abbess Eadgifu of Leominster when he was refused permission to marry her, possibly to gain her lands, and keeping her for a year before returning her to her Abbey c) tricking his cousin Beorn into helping him and then murdering him dumping his body in the sea and d) accusing his mother of adultery and claiming that Cnut was his real father. Countess Gytha had to swear her innocence before a council of important women. Fathers were meant to be responsible for the good behaviour of their offspring. Poor Godwin must have had one hell of a headache on his hands. And having a family full of boys must have taken its toll on him over the years. Harold certainly did not seem to approve of Swegn's behaviour for he refused to support his plea to the King to return to his lands and I have to wonder how well he got on with Tostig when in the end they betrayed each other so devastatingly. Godwin must have loved Swegn despite his son's denial that he was his father, for he petitioned Edward for his son's return from exile, even  after Swegn had killed his cousin Beorn, younger brother of Swein Estrithson, then ruler of Denmark. Godwin it seems had a soft heart when it came to his family, but I have a feeling of relief  for him that he did not live to see the terrible infighting that tore his surviving sons apart later in their lives. For whatever his reasons, Edward did allow Swegn to return to England in 1050 and Swegn seems to have shown a desire to reform for he caused no more trouble after that until he died around a couple of years later on a pilgrimage.
The Dover Incident: The Plot to Oust Godwin
It was in the 1051's that, according to Edith's Vita Edwardi, Godwin's dispute with Champart came to a head and the Dover incident occurred. Champart, it is believed, had begun counselling Edward that Godwin had been responsible for killing his brother Alfred and was now hoping to be rid of him as well. It appears that Edward  allowed himself to be drawn into a plot to oust the Godwins from power, even the country. It was clear that the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury wanted to be rid of Godwin. He had been accusing him of misapropriation of Canterbury's churchlands and the two men had openly argued about it. As  Barlow (2002), citing Walter Map's late 12thc document The Trifles of Courtiers,  in his book The Godwins, he had got Bosham by trickery. He evidently had said to the Archbishop of Canterbury (probably not Champart but his predecessor) who owned the land, "Lord, do you give me Bosham?" The Archbishop was apparently so startled that he replied in surprise, "I give you Bosham?" The Earl and his men promptly fell at the Archbishop's feet and thanked him profusely for the gift! Walter's amusing collection of stories are riddled with doubtful evidence so one cannot be totally sure of the veracity of this tale. However Godwin does have a reputation for using cunning to acquire lands and if the Vita can be anything to go by, despite its pro-Godwin theme, there was a quarrell between Champart and Godwin about alleged misappropriation of Canterbury's lands. But the Anglo Saxon Chronicle makes no mention of Robert Champart's part in Godwin's downfall and puts the blame on the Dover Incident. One day, in 1051, it states that Eustace of Boulogne, second husband of the King's sister Goda, popped over for a visit to his brother-in-law Edward. According to the Chronicle, he stayed awhile, spoke with the King what he wanted, then left. Let us look at what happened following the Count taking leave of the King to go home.
Eustace and a party of his men, most likely numbering around 40-50 men or so, are traveling to Dover to leave for Boulogne. They decide to stop the night in the burh, high up on a cliff and ringed by a defensive wall. But The Frenchmen appear to have left their manners behind with the King and are said to have put on their coats of maille before entering the burh and demanded to board with some townsfolk in their homes who, understandably not very happy at this intrusion, put up resistance and a fight ensued. The result was the death of 20+ inhabitants of Dover and 19 Frenchmen. An outraged Eustace escapes with what is left of his men and rides back to the King to protest at this abhorrent indignity served upon them by the people of Dover. Edward is of course outraged and calls upon Godwin to answer for his townsmen. Dover was in Kent which was then part of his jurisdiction of Wessex. Godwin refuses to punish his men as the King has demanded, perhaps after hearing first hand from his surviving Doverian thegns  what has happened there.
What followed was that the King, now buoyed on by his new found confidence and encouraged by  the counsel of his Norman friends, was furious that Godwin had refused to act on his orders to punish Dover by razing it to the ground. He called the Great Council of nobles, the Witan, to meet on the 8th of September. Godwin met his sons Harold and Swegn and all their own men at his manor of Beverstone, 15 miles south of Gloucester where Edward was holding court. With Edward was Earls Leofric, his nephew Ralph and Siward and their armies. It was a very dangerous time and for the first time in years, England was on the brink of a civil conflict.
With this fractious state of affairs, the King's party thought it wise to suggest that Godwin give  hostages to the King and then meet up later on the 21st of September in London when charges against Godwin could be heard with cooled tempers. It was then that most likely, Godwin's youngest son Wulfnoth and Swegn's son Hakon was thought to have been transferred to the King's household to provide surety for their father's good behaviour. This temporary lull in the storm shows one of two things, either that few men on the King's side really wanted to go to war with Godwin, or that the Earls, believing that this time Godwin had gone too far, gave them time to muster their full forces. Champart, newly returned from Rome with his pallium must have been gloating.
 Godwin's position was now quite fragile.He was not without support, he had the whole of Wessex on his side, however this was about to change. As Godwin and his family set out to attend the court in London he lost some men who had decided that although they supported their Earl, they did not want to go against their rightful annointed King. The King had refused Godwin safe conduct and the  reciept of  hostages from the Earls  to ensure safe passage to court. It was not looking good for Godwin and his supporters, especially when arriving at Godwin's manor at Southwark across the Thames, the King demanded that he handed over all the King's thegns that were with him.Thegns made up the bulk of the middle status society. They could either be very wealthy, holding important offices or hold the minimum requirement of 5 hides of land and lesser services. If they held land from the king, they would be 'king's thegns' however if their land fell in an Earl's jurisdiction, it might be that they owed their allegiance to the earl rather than the king, which it looks that in the case here of Godwin, that was how it was.
 And so Godwin, having lost a vast amount of men already was caught betweeen a rock and a hard place. In Ian Walker's book Harold, the Last Anglo Saxon King, he states that all the thegns of Harold returned to the King, suggesting that as Harold had only been lord over his East Anglian Earldom for 7 years, he had not had time to build  bonds between him and his men fully sufficient enough warrant such risk-taking, especially when the King's forces now lay close to the homes of Harold's men. The Godwins had lost all credibility.
 On the otherside of the River, Edward and his supporters were in a far better position. Edward announced that Swegn was now outlawed and demanded that Godwin and Harold appear before the King to answer all the charges brought against them. Godwin sent messages back to ask for guarantees that no harm should come to them. A more confident Edward than had ever shown himself before to be, refused his plea. He wanted Godwin dealt with. Sending Bishop Stigand as an intermediary, according to the Vita Edwardi, Stigand wept as relays the King's message to Godwin. "You may have the King's peace when you return his brother alive to him, with all his men and all their possessions that had been taken from them." If true, the King was referring to the charge that Godwin had been the cause of Alfred, his brother's death.Amongst the other charges Edward would put before Godwin would be the charge of plotting to kill the King as he had done his brother. Godwin had confirmed this by attepting to act with force against the King.  Presumably Stigand, a long standing friend of Godwin's, was weeping because this was an impossible request. Godwin knew that it was the end of the road for him now. According to the Vita, Godwin pushed the table, got up and rode away.
The family now refused to attend the court; without terms they knew they were in danger. The only option was to flee. Edward declared them all outlaws in October 1051 and gave them 5 days to leave the country. After that they could be subject to threats to end their lives if they were found to still be at large. Edith Godwinsdottor, the King's wife, was to be sent into a nunnery some time later. She too, although loyal to Edward throughout, it seems, was to suffer for being a Godwin.

Edward had managed to at last achieve a show of strength and power that had alluded him for the last 9 years of his reign. Robert Champart had helped to engineer the ousting of the Godwins, paving the way clear for him to have the King's ear to himself. A chance for more Normans to advance unhindered in the King's regime. And not long after, it is said that a certain duke was to visit with the King and plant the seeds of a Norman takeover. Was the downfall of Godwin planned or just an opportunity arisen for the King and Champart? See what you think as we explore the events that followed the Gowins flight.