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Wulfnoth Cild

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Wulfnoth Cild
Diedc. 1014
Noble familyGodwin
IssueGodwin, Earl of Wessex

Wulfnoth Cild ([wuɫf.noːθ t͡ʃiɫd]; died c. 1014) was a South Saxon thegn who is regarded by historians as the probable father of Godwin, Earl of Wessex, and thus the grandfather of King Harold II.


It is known that Godwin's father was called Wulfnoth, and in the view of Frank Barlow, the Godwin family's massive estates in Sussex are indisputable evidence that the Wulfnoth in question was the South Saxon thegn.[1]

In 1008, King Æthelred the Unready ordered the construction of a fleet, and the following year 300 ships assembled at Sandwich, Kent to meet a threatened Viking invasion. There Brihtric, brother of Eadric Streona, brought unknown charges against Wulfnoth before the king, unjustly according to John of Worcester.[2] Wulfnoth then fled with twenty ships and ravaged the south coast. Brihtric followed with eighty, but his fleet was driven ashore by a storm and burnt by Wulfnoth. After the loss of a third of the fleet the remaining ships were withdrawn to London, and the Vikings were able to invade Kent unopposed. Æthelred almost certainly confiscated Wulfnoth's property as a result.[3][4][5]

Wulfnoth Cild had died by June 1014.[6]


The church of St. Mary Woolnoth in London was founded by an Anglo-Saxon nobleman named Wulfnoth, who may be the same as Wulfnoth Cild of Sussex.


There has been some debate over the ancestry of Wulfnoth Cild. According to the twelfth-century chronicler John of Worcester, Wulfnoth was the son of a man called Æthelmær, who was the brother of Eadric Streona and son of a man called Æthelric. In the view of historian Ann Williams, this is chronologically impossible as it would lead to significant generational displacement.[7]

A separate theory, first proposed by Alfred Anscombe in 1913,[8] and advocated since by the genealogist Lundie W. Barlow in 1957[9] and the Mayanist scholar and genealogist David H. Kelley in 1989[10] suggests that this Æthelmær was the same person as Æthelmær the Stout, who himself was the son of Æthelweard, a historian, and he a descendant of Æthelred I of Wessex.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Frank Barlow, The Godwins, Pearson, 2002, p. 25.
  2. ^ Ann Williams, Godwine, Oxford Online Dictionary of National Biography, 2004
  3. ^ Barlow, op. cit., pp. 26-27
  4. ^ Williams
  5. ^ Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (MSS C, D, E and F) s.a. 1009.
  6. ^ Barlow, op. cit., pp. 27
  7. ^ Williams 2006, p. 251.
  8. ^ Anscombe 1913.
  9. ^ Barlow 1957, p. 32.
  10. ^ Kelley 1989, pp. 63–93.

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Wulfnoth 9 at Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
  • Barlow, Frank, The Godwins, Pearson Educational Limited, 2002 ISBN 978-0-582-78440-6
  • Walker, Ian. Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King. Stroud: Sutton, 1997. ISBN 0-7509-2456-X
  • Bibbs, Hugh "The Rise Of Godwine" http://www.medievalhistory.net/page0008.htm
  • Williams, Ann (2006). "The Family and Career of Harold II Godwineson, King of the English" (PDF). Paper read at Hokkai Gakuen University, Sapporo, Japan, on 21 November 2006. Hokuga. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  • Anscombe, Alfred (1913). "The Pedigree of Earl Godwine". Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. 3. 7: 129–50. doi:10.2307/3678418. JSTOR 3678418.
  • Barlow, Lundie W. (1957). "The Antecedents of Earl Godwine of Wessex". New England Historical and Genealogical Register. 111: 30–38.
  • Kelley, David H. (1989). "The House of Aethelred". In Brook, L. L. (ed.). Studies in Genealogy and Family History. Tribute to Charles Evans on the Occasion of his 80th Birthday. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy. pp. 63–93. OCLC 22235011.