Talk:Godwin, Earl of Wessex

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The history is in 'Three Men in a Boat' by Jerome K Jerome

Do you mean it's from the book? I don't see any reference to the story in the article on Godwin, Earl of Wessex - it just says he died a natural death. Is this a fictitious story? w:User:Gaurav
JKJ cites old Windsor as the site of Godwin's death; more reliable sources suggest Winchester. I am sure taht the story is apocryphal. The full quote from Three Men in a Boat is:
Old Windsor is a famous spot in its way. Edward the Confessor had a palace here, and here the great Earl Godwin was proved guilty by the justice of that age of having encompassed the death of the King's brother. Earl Godwin broke a piece of bread and held it in his hand.
"If I am guilty," said the Earl, "may this bread choke me when I eat it!"
Then he put the bread into his mouth and swallowed it, and it choked him, and he died.
Theo (Talk) 18:41, 6 January 2006 (UTC)[reply]
The only strictly contemporary evidence for Godwin's death comes from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The Abingdon recension of the Chronicle gives the story in the fullest detail:
1053: In this year the king was at Winchester at Easter, and with him earl Godwin and earl Harold, his son, and Tostig. When on the second day of Easter he [i.e. Godwin] sat at table with the king, he suddenly sank down against the footstool, speechless and helpless: he was carried into the king's chamber and it was thought it would pass off, but it was not to be; yet he lingered on like this, unable to speak and helpless, until the Thursday, and then gave up his life.
Nothing about oaths or choking there. On the other hand several Norman chroniclers, writing a century or more after the event, expand that story to the form cited in the main article. As an example I'll give William of Malmesbury's version:
The Normans...say, too, that God manifested at last with what kind of purity Godwin had served him; for, after his piratical ravages, of which we shall speak hereafter, when he had been reinstated in his original favour, and was sitting with the king at table, the conversation turning on Elfred, the king's brother, "I perceive," said he, "O king, that on every recollection of your brother, you regard me with an angry countenance; but God forbid that I should swallow this morsel, if I have done anything which might tend either to his danger or your disadvantage". On saying this, he was choked with the piece he had put into his mouth, and closed his eyes in death.
William goes on to complain, as well he might, of the difficulty of deciding on the truth of the Anglo-Saxon stories which show Godwin in a good light and the Norman ones which do him down. The fact is that by William of Malmesbury's time the waters had been muddied by a Norman campaign of vilification against Godwin, because of his untiring efforts to expel Edward the Confessor's Norman favourites, and against Godwin's son Harold because of his usurping (as they saw it) of the English throne. I don't believe any modern historian would give much credence to the choking story. Antiquary 13:40, 4 November 2006 (UTC)[reply]