Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 22.djvu/60
Godwine's fall ‘seemed wonderful to every man that was in England,’ his power had been so great, his sons were ‘earls and the king's darlings,’ and his daughter the king's wife. Before long men sent him messages, and some went over to him in person, assuring him that if he would come back they would fight for him, and people said that it would be better to be with him in exile than to be in England without him. He sent to the king asking that he might come before him and purge himself loyally of all charges. Moreover Henry, the French king, and the Count of Flanders urged his recall. But it was of no avail, for the king's evil counsellors kept him from hearkening. At last in June 1052 the earl determined to resort to force; he gathered his ships together in the Yser and set sail on the 22nd, intending to fall in with his sons Harold and Leofwine, who were making a descent on the west coast with ships from Ireland. When he was off Dungeness he found that the coast there was well defended, and so sailed to Pevensey, pursued by the king's ships from Sandwich. A storm arose which separated the pursuers and the pursued, and the earl returned again to Flanders. Then the king's fleet dispersed, and in the beginning of September Godwine sailed to the Isle of Wight, where he landed and harried the island until the people paid him what he demanded. Thence he went to Portland, and there did all the mischief he could. On returning to Wight he was joined by his son Harold with nine ships. All the men of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex rose in his behalf, and especially the seamen of Hastings and the other ports, declaring that they ‘would live and die’ with Earl Godwine. The earl sailed round the coast by Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich, taking all the ships he needed, and receiving hostages and provisions. He sailed up the Thames with a large fleet, some of his ships passing inside Sheppey, where the crews did much harm, and burnt King's Middleton. He lay off Southwark on 14 Sept., and while he waited for the tide held communication with the Londoners, who were almost to a man in his favour. Then he sailed up the river, keeping by the southern shore, which was thickly lined with the local forces gathered to support him. Eadward's ships were on the northern side of the river and his land forces on the shore. While the king delayed to reply to the earl's demand for restoration, Godwine addressed his men, declaring that he would sooner die than do any wrong to the king, and urging them to restrain their wrath. It was agreed that matters should be deferred until the morrow, and Godwine and Harold and some of their men landed and stayed on shore. At the great assembly which was held outside London on the next day, Godwine declared his innocence of all that was laid to his charge. His enemies, the Frenchmen, had already fled, and the king restored to him, his wife, his sons, and his daughter all that had been taken from them. The earl returned with the king to the palace, and there Eadward gave him the kiss of peace (for other particulars see under Ed-
was hateful to them to fight against their lord the king’ (Peterborough Chron. an. 1048), and Godwine sent to the king, who was then at Gloucester with the witan and the forces of Mercia and Northumberland, to demand a hearing, offering to clear himself by compurgation. When this was refused, he demanded that the Frenchmen who had caused the troubles at Dover and in Swegen's earldom should be given up. This was refused, and the earl and his sons marched on Gloucester. War was averted by mediation, and the witan was ordered to meet again in London at Michaelmas. When the witan met, Godwine was at his own house in Southwark (Vita, p. 402), and many men of his earldom were with him. Eadward had now a strong army at his back, and it was soon evident that the earl's case was prejudged. Swegen's outlawry was renewed, and had probably been reimposed at Gloucester, but the earl seems to have disregarded the sentence and kept his son with him. He was summoned to attend the assembly, and demanded hostages and a safe-conduct. The king bade him attend with not more than twelve companions, and appears to have ordered those of his thegns who were with the earl to come over and join his army. Godwine let them go, and his forces dwindled gradually. Stigand, bishop of Winchester, one of his friends, did what he could to delay the final decision in the hope that the king would be better advised, but he was at last forced to bring the earl a message that he was to expect no peace from the king until he gave him back his brother and his brother's men safe and sound. The bishop wept as he gave the message. When the earl heard it he pushed over the table which stood by him, mounted his horse, and rode hard seawards to Bosham. Next morning the king and his host declared him and his sons outlaws, and gave them five days to get out of the land. He and his wife, and his son Swegen, Tostig and his bride, and Gyrth and his younger children embarked with all the treasure which they had at hand, and sailed to Flanders. They were made welcome by Baldwin, and abode there that winter.