Edith of Wessex

Edith of Wessex

Infobox British Royalty|majesty|consort
name= Edith of Wessex
title=Queen consort of England

reign=1045 – 5 January 1066
coronation =
date of birth=c. 1029
place of birth=
date of death=December 19 1075
place of death=
place of burial=
spouse=Edward the Confessor
father=Godwin, Earl of Wessex
mother=Gytha Thorkelsdóttir|

Edith of Wessex, (c. 1029 – December 19 1075), married King Edward the Confessor of England in 1045. The marriage produced no children. Later ecclesiastical writers claimed that this was because Edward took a vow of celibacy, but modern historians have postulated alternative hypotheses, one being that Edward refused to consummate the marriage because of his antipathy to Edith's family, the Godwines.

Edith was the daughter of Godwin, Earl of Wessex, one of the most powerful men in England at the time of King Edward's rule. Her mother Gytha Thorkelsdóttir was daughter to Torkel Styrbjörnsson, granddaughter to Styrbjörn Starke and Tyra and great-granddaughter to both Olof (II) Björnsson and his sister Gyrid by Harold I of Denmark.

When Godwine and his family were expelled from the country in 1051, Edith was put aside by Edward and sent to a nunnery. When the Godwines effected their return through force in 1052, Edith was reinstated.

Upon Edward's death, on 4 January 1066, he was succeeded by Edith's brother, Harold Godwinson. At the Battle of Stamford Bridge (25 September, 1066) and the Battle of Hastings (14 October, 1066), Edith lost her four remaining brothers (Tostig, Harold, Gyrth and Leofwine). She was therefore the only senior member of the Godwine family to survive the Norman conquest of England, the sons of Harold having fled to Ireland.

Carola Hicks, an art historian, has recently put her forward as a candidate for the author of the Bayeux Tapestry [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/04/2006_21_mon.shtml] ] [Carola Hicks, "The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life of a Masterpiece" ISBN 0-7011-7463-3)] .

In 2002, she was portrayed by Sue Wallace in the "Doctor Who" audio adventure "Seasons of Fear".

Further reading

* Stafford, Pauline (1997). "Queen Emma and Queen Edith: Queenship and Women's Power in Eleventh-Century England", Blackwell ISBN 0-631-16679-3


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