Eadgyth "Swanneshals/Swan-neck", Mistress
(-Aft 1066)


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Harold II DE WESSEX, King of England

Eadgyth "Swanneshals/Swan-neck", Mistress

  • Died: After 1066

  Also referred to as Harold II GODWINSSON.

  Research Notes:

Daughter of ---- and his wife Wulfgyth.

A mid-12th century manuscript concerning the foundation of Waltham abbey names "Editham cognomento Swanneshals" as "cubicularia" of King Harold when recording that she recovered the king’s body for burial after the battle of Hastings. The later Vita Haroldi records that "a certain woman of a shrewd intelligence, Edith by name" recovered the king’s body from the battlefield, chosen to do so "because she loved him exceedingly…[and] had been frequently present in the secret places of his chamber". The only source so far identified which refers to an earlier document which names Eadgyth is the history of the abbey of St Benet, Holme, written by John of Oxnead in 1292, which records donations to the abbey, confirmed by King Edward in 1046, including the donation by "Edgyue Swanneshals" of "Thurgertone" (Thurgarton, Norfolk). The fact of this donation is confirmed by the corresponding charter of King Edward, reproduced in Dugdale’s Monasticon, which refers to the donation of "ecclesiam de Thurgartun cum tota villa" but omits the name of the donor. Barlow suggests that Eadgyth may have been "Ealdgyth" who is named in the will of her mother "Wulfgyth", dated to [1042/53], who bequeathed land "at Stisted, Essex to her sons Ælfketel and Ketel…at Saxlingham, Norfolk and Somerton, Suffolk to her daughters Gode and Bote, at Chadacre, Suffolk and Ashford to her daughter Ealdgyth, and at Fritton to Earl Godwin and Earl Harold". The connection between Wulfgyth’s family and St Benet’s, Hulme is confirmed by the testament of "Ketel" (named in his mother’s will quoted above), dated to [1052/66], which includes bequests of land to the abbey. However, Ketel’s testament names his two sisters Gode and Bote, who are also named in their mother’s will, but does not name "Ealdgyth", suggesting that the latter may have predeceased her brother. None of the sources so far identified suggests, even indirectly, that Eadgyth "Swanneshals" was the mother of the seven illegitimate children of King Harold who are shown below, but this has been assumed to be the case in secondary sources. 1

  Marriage Information:

Not married


1 Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, Medlands: Harold.

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