The House of Godwin: The Rise and Fall of an Anglo-Saxon Dynasty


The House of  Godwin: The most powerful dynasty behind the throne of Anglo-Saxon England, shedding new light on events such as the Battle of Hastings.

The Godwin dynasty dominated English politics for more than forty years. Earl Godwin established himself as Cnut’s most senior advisor, and continued that role under Edward the Confessor, seeing his daughter Edith become queen and his two eldest sons Swegn and Harold given earldoms. After Godwin’s death four of his sons held earldoms, and Harold was to emerge as Edward the Confessor’s senior earl and eventually succeed as king of England.

This book considers all the key events throughout this period, including Godwin’s emergence, his involvement in the succession dispute after Cnut’s death, the rise to prominence of his eldest children, the family’s exile and dramatic return, the quarrel between Harold and Tostig, and the Norse and Norman invasions. Specific chapters have been devoted to Harold’s trip to Normandy and William of Normandy’s claims to the English throne, re-assessments of the accepted Norman landing site and traditional site of the battle of Hastings, and the fate of the surviving members of the dynasty post-1066.

Over a period of nearly fifty years the house of Godwin had established itself as the most influential and powerful dynasty in Anglo-Saxon England. It took only months for it to fall.

Editorial Review

In his book, “The House of Godwin: The Rise and Fall of an Anglo-Saxon Dynasty,” Michael John Key embarks on the task of unveiling the captivating story of a family that played a pivotal role in shaping the political landscape of Anglo-Saxon England. Through meticulous research and a keen eye for detail, Key brings to light the influence of the House of Godwin, a family often overshadowed by more well-known figures in history.

Key delves into the early origins of the Godwin family, tracing their ascent to power through the reigns of Swein Forkbeard, Edmund the Confessor, and King Cnut. With vivid descriptions, he explores the complexities of their relationships and the challenges they faced, offering readers a glimpse into the dynamics of medieval politics. The author also delves into the personal lives of the Godwin family, showcasing their ambitions, triumphs, and setbacks.

The narrative takes readers through significant historical events, such as the succession disputes and power struggles that followed the death of Cnut. Key skillfully navigates through the intricate web of alliances and rivalries, highlighting the key players and their roles in shaping the destiny of England. With particular focus on Harold Godwinson, who would later become King Harold II, Key delves into the family’s rise to prominence and their ultimate demise.

One of the notable strengths of Key’s work is his ability to make history come alive. The author’s attention to detail, supported by charts and maps, provides a comprehensive understanding of the Godwinsons’ wealth, land holdings, and influence. While some readers may find certain sections slightly dry, Key’s thorough exploration of the archives and dedication to uncovering the truth of the 11th century is commendable.

“The House of Godwin: The Rise and Fall of an Anglo-Saxon Dynasty” serves as a solid and engaging introduction to the influential Godwin family. It offers readers a unique perspective on Anglo-Saxon England, shedding light on a lesser-known but significant dynasty. Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply curious about this remarkable period in English history, Michael John Key’s book is a valuable resource that will satisfy your thirst for knowledge.

The House of Godwin
The House of Godwin: The Rise and Fall of an Anglo-Saxon Dynasty by Michael John Key
Genre: Non-fiction history
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 4.8 stars
Publication Date: 15th June 2022
ISBN13: 978-1445694061

Author: Michael John Key

Michael John Key has spent his professional career in the oil, gas, and petrochemical Industry. After retiring to concentrate on writing he has researched and studied medieval history for many years, with a particular interest in the Anglo-Saxon period. He has a BA History Honours Degree. He was born in Leigh, Lancashire, but now lives in Hampshire, where he has spent most of his life.

He is an accomplished historian and author with a passion for bringing the past to life. With a meticulous approach to research and a keen eye for detail, Key has become known for his ability to craft engaging narratives that transport readers to different eras. He has a particular interest in medieval history, and his works often delve into the intricacies of political, social, and cultural dynamics during that time.

Key’s dedication to historical accuracy is evident in his writing, as he strives to uncover the truth behind the events and characters he explores. His commitment to thorough archival research ensures that his works are rich in detail, offering readers a comprehensive understanding of the historical periods he covers.

Throughout his career, Key has authored several acclaimed books, earning praise for his ability to make complex historical subjects accessible and compelling. His works often shed new light on lesser-known aspects of history or provide fresh perspectives on well-known events and figures. With a talent for storytelling, Key captures the imagination of readers, transporting them to different worlds and allowing them to experience the past firsthand.

As an author, Michael John Key continues to captivate audiences with his engaging writing style, meticulous research, and dedication to historical accuracy. His works stand as valuable contributions to the field of history, appealing to both casual readers and avid history enthusiasts alike.


  • Michael John Key – K – Author Community – Amberley Publishing. (2023).‌

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