Earl Godwin DE WESSEX
(Abt 993-1053)
Gytha THORGILSDÓTTIR, Princess of Denmark
(-Aft 1069)
Harold II DE WESSEX, King of England
(Abt 1023-1066)
Eadgyth "Swanneshals/Swan-neck", Mistress
(-Aft 1066)
Gytha (Eadgyth) DE WESSEX
(Abt 1053-1099)


Family Links

Vladimir Vsevolodich "Monomakh" RURIK, Grand Prince of Kiev

  • Mstislav I "Velikiy/the Great" Vladimirovich RURIK, Grand Prince of Kiev+
  • Izyaslav Vladimirovich RURIK, Prince of Suzdal
  • Svyatoslav Vladimirovich RURIK, Prince of Chernigov, Smolensk & Pereyaslavl
  • Iaropolk II Vladimirovich RURIK, Prince of Pereyaslavl, Grand Prince of Kiev
  • Viacheslav Vladimirovich RURIK, Prince of Smolensk & Turov, Grand Prince of Kiev
  • Marina Vladimirovna RURIK

Gytha (Eadgyth) DE WESSEX

  • Born: Between 1050 and 1055, Wessex, England
  • Married: Abt 1070
  • Died: 10 Mar 1098/9, Palestine

  Research Notes:

Gytha's estimated birth date range, based on the birth dates of her children and the estimated date of her husband's second marriage, suggests that she must have been King Harold’s daughter by his mistress Eadgyth Swanneshals, although this supposition is not based on any primary source data. The name "Gytha" suggests that in England she was originally called Eadgyth. Gytha’s existence, and her Russian marriage, are confirmed only by sources written in the late 12th/early 13th centuries, between 100 and 150 years after the estimated date of the marriage, although it is of course possible that these sources were based on earlier records which have since disappeared. None of the other earlier sources which name the sons of King Harold II, such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Florence of Worcester, mention any daughters. According to Saxo Grammaticus, after her father's death she and her two brothers "immediately emigrated to Denmark" where Svend II Estrithsen King of Denmark "received them in a spirit of family duty" and arranged her marriage to "Waldemarus King of the Russians". Whether such a move can have been made "immediately" is open to doubt, considering the rebellions of her supposed brothers in England which are dated to 1068 and 1069.... Gytha is named as King Harold's daughter in Fagrskinna, which also gives her marriage to "Valldimar Konongr sun Iarozlæifs konongs i Holmgarde" (which appears to skip a generation in the generally accepted family reconstruction of the Rurikid dynasty). More details are provided by Morkinskinna, which records that the mother of “Haraldr Valdimarsson”, father of Malmfrid who married Sigurd King of Norway, was “Edith the daughter of Harold Godwinson” and that her husband was “the son of King Yaroslav and Ingigerdr, the daughter of Óláfr the Swede” (also skipping a generation). Morkinskinna appears to be the only source which attributes the additional name "Harald", indicative of his English ancestry, to her son Mstislav. The husband of Gytha has generally been identified as Grand Prince Vladimir Vsevolodich "Monomach", but Morkinskinna is the only source which provides enough detail to suggest that this identification is correct. Baumgarten, particularly thorough in his source citations, cites no Russian source which corroborates the marriage. The lateness of the sources in which Gytha and her marriage are recorded suggests that the information should be treated with some caution. In addition, it is surprising that no name from Gytha's supposed family (with the exception of "Harald" attributed to her son Mstislav in Morkinskinna) was used among the known descendants of Grand Prince Vladimir. While it is true that the Rurikid dynasty rarely imported foreign names for the male descendants, it was not unusual for females to bear names which are recognisable from the families of foreign princesses who married into the family, the obvious example being the Scandinavian name Ingeborg used by Vladimir's son Mstislav for his daughter by Christina of Sweden. The difficult question is to decide the likelihood of such a marriage in light of conditions at the time and contemporary attitudes: some arguments can be mustered for suggesting that a daughter of King Harold II may not have been considered a good marriage prospect. Gytha’s supposed mother was obscure and she herself was illegitimate, although it is recognised that Gytha was related to the Danish royal family through her paternal grandmother and that illegitimacy presented few barriers at the time in Scandinavian royal families. Her father’s death may have glorified him as a hero, or alternatively his defeat may have been viewed as ignominious, depending on the point of view. Her family lived in exile and were without influential connections, apart it seems from the king of Denmark, and her brothers fell into complete obscurity. If a Russian marriage was arranged for her, it is likely that her husband would have been one of the lesser princes of the dynasty: from this perspective, it is true that Vladimir Vsevolodich was at the time relatively obscure, as the son of the youngest surviving brother of the current Grand Prince without immediate prospects of succession. As noted above, the Scandinavian sources consistently propose a name similar to Vladimir for Gytha’s husband, although this should not be viewed as conclusive because difficult Russian names were frequently transcribed into contemporary western sources with more creativity than accuracy. The inevitable, if disappointing, conclusion is that doubts about Gytha’s existence and her Russian marriage cannot be dismissed entirely. Nazarenko reports that, according to a pateric formerly held by the cloister of St Pantaleon, Köln, Gytha died as a nun in Palestine 10 Mar [1098/99]. 1

  Marriage Information:

Gytha married Vladimir Vsevolodich "Monomakh" RURIK, Grand Prince of Kiev, son of Vsevolod I Yaroslavich RURIK, Grand Prince of Kiev, and Maria [Irena] MONOMACHINA of Byzantium, about 1070. (Vladimir Vsevolodich "Monomakh" RURIK was born in 1053 in Kiev, Ukraine and died on 19 May 1125.)


1 Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, Medlands: Gytha [Eadgyth].

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