Sussex Castles




King Edward and Earl Godwine


1051 Earl Godwine Banished

A Norman noble, Eustace of Boulogne and his soldiers became belligerent with the towns people of Dover after they had not been able to find accommodation  The Normans killed a townsman and a neighbor witnessing this, killed one of the Norman soldiers in revenge. The Normans then put many of the towns people to the sword, men and women alike. The towns people fought back killing seven Normans. Seeing that the towns people had the beating of them, the Normans fled to King Edward seeking sanctuary.

The town of Dover was within the Earl Godwine's domain. Godwine was outraged by the Norman behavior and demanded justice from the King.  After a potential armed confrontation, the King sided with his Norman friends and banished Earl Godwine and all his sons, confiscating all their land holdings. Earl Godwine fled initially to Bosham and then sailed to Flanders with Earl Swein. The King also committed his Queen (and Godwin’s daughter) Edgitha to a convent. Harold and Leofwine made for Ireland where they raised a fleet to support their families return to England.

1053 Earl Godwine Returns

In 1053 Harold and his brother Leofwine, returned from Ireland and sailed into the River Severn with a large fleet. They landed on the borders of Somersetshire and Dorsetshire, and plundered the coast there. A great number of the people of Devonshire and Somersetshire gathered together in arms against them, but Harold defeated them. Earl Godwine landed in Kent and gained support from the people of Kent, Sussex, Essex, and Surrey, together with all the boatmen of Hastings and other coastal towns. Earl Godwine and Harold, combined their fleets near the Isle of Wight and proceeded to confront the king in London. Earls on neither side wanted an armed confrontation and Bishop Stigand to negotiate a settlement.  All of Godwine and his sons land was returned and most of the Kings Norman allies in court were banished.  The also return the Queen to her position of honour in court. In return Harold’s brother Wulfnoth and his cousin were given up as  hostages and sent by the King to Duke William in Normandy.

Sussex Timeline