Tovi the Proud

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Tovi the Proud (also Tofi or Tofig) was a rich and powerful 11th-century Danish thegn who held a number of estates in various parts of southern England. He was staller (a placeman or court office-holder) to King Cnut the Great.[1]

According to the Waltham Chronicle, it was on his manor at Montacute in Somerset that a black crucifix or Holy Rood was unearthed following a dream in 1030. Tovi loaded the life-sized cross onto a cart, but the oxen refused to move until he mentioned another of his estates at Waltham in Essex where he already had a hunting lodge.[2] Tovi rebuilt the church at Waltham to house the cross, on which he bestowed his own sword. His devout second wife Gytha (or Glitha), the daughter of Osgod Clapa, adorned the figure with a crown, bands of gold and precious stones.[3] The cross became the object of pilgrimage, notably by Harold Godwinson. It was at Tovi's wedding at Lambeth on 8 June 1042 that King Harthacnut suddenly died of a convulsion "while standing at his drink".[4] There is no record of Tovi after 1043 and he may have died at this time. His estates passed to his son Athelstan (or Æthelstan) and then to his grandson Asgar, before being granted to the Norman Baron Geoffrey de Mandeville by King William the Conqueror.[5][6]

Tovi the Proud's name is commemorated by a handmade artisanal confectionery shop of the same name, based in Quaker Lane, Waltham Abbey.


  1. ^ Williams et al., A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain, page 229.
  2. ^ The Waltham Chronicle, ed. Watkiss and Chibnall, page 15.
  3. ^ Dodwell, Anglo-Saxon Art: A New Perspective, page 119.
  4. ^ Barlow, The Godwins: The Rise and Fall of a Noble Dynasty, page 109.
  5. ^ Wareham, Lords and Communities in Early Medieval East Anglia, page 113.
  6. ^ Lands held by persons called Esgar in 1066, PASE Domesday


  • Barlow, Frank (2002). The Godwins: The Rise and Fall of a Noble Dynasty. ISBN 978-0-582-42381-7.
  • Dodwell, Charles Reginald (1982). Anglo-Saxon Art: A New Perspective. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-0861-1.
  • Wareham, Andrew (2005). Lords and Communities in Early Medieval East Anglia. The Boydell Press. ISBN 978-1-84383-155-6.
  • Watkiss, Leslie; Marjorie Chibnall, eds. (1994). The Waltham Chronicle. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-822164-7.
  • Williams, Ann; Alfred P. Smyth; D. P. Kirby, eds. (1991). A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain. ISBN 978-1-85264-047-7.

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