Edith the Fair

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Ealdgȳð "Swann hnesce" Svanehals (Swanneshe)

Also Known As: "Ealdgȳð Swann hnesce", "Eadgyth", "Edith Swan-neck", "NOT Ealdgyth of Mercia", "also known as Edith the Fair", "Edith", "Aldgyth and most commonly Edith Swan-Neck", "Eddyth", "Queen of Wessex"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Wessex, England
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Swan-Neck's father and Swan-Neck's mother
Partner of Harold Godwinsson, King of England
Mother of Godwin Haroldsson; Edmund Haroldsson; Magnus Haroldsson; Gytha (Gyda, Gyða) Haraldsdóttir; Gunhild Haraldsdatter and 7 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Edith the Fair

Ealdgyth Ealdgȳð Swann hnesce "Swan neck"

NOT Ealdgyth of Mercia

Mistress of Harold Godwinsson

Children of Harold and his mistress, probably Eadgyth Swanneshals:

1. Godwin

2. Edmund

3. Magnus

4.Gytha

5. (Ulf?)

6. Gunhild

Edith Swannesha (Old English: Ealdgȳð Swann hnesce, "Edith [the] Gentle Swan"; c.1025 – c. 1086), also known as Edith Swanneschals or Edith the Fair,[1] is best known as the unwedded consort of King Harold II of England. Her common name comes from a historical misinterpretation that her nickname represented Old English swann hnecca, "swan neck"[citation needed]. She is sometimes confused with Ældgyth, daughter of Ealdorman Ælfgar of Mercia, and Harold's wife.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Swanneck

http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/ENGLAND,%20AngloSaxon%20&%20Danish%20Kings.htm#_Toc214769436

---------------------

Mistress of Harold (1): EADGYTH "Swanneshals [Swan-neck]", [daughter of --- & his wife Wulfgyth] (-after 1066).

A mid-12th century manuscript concerning the foundation of Waltham abbey names "Editham cognomento Swanneshals" as "cubicularia" of King Harold when recording that she recovered the king´s body for burial after the battle of Hastings[2052].

The later Vita Haroldi records that "a certain woman of a shrewd intelligence, Edith by name" recovered the king´s body from the battlefield, chosen to do so "because she loved him exceedingly…[and] had been frequently present in the secret places of his chamber"[2053]. The only source so far identified which refers to an earlier document which names Eadgyth is the history of the abbey of St Benet, Holme, written by John of Oxnead in 1292, which records donations to the abbey, confirmed by King Edward in 1046, including the donation by "Edgyue Swanneshals" of "Thurgertone" (Thurgarton, Norfolk)[2054]. The fact of this donation is confirmed by the corresponding charter of King Edward, reproduced in Dugdale´s Monasticon[2055], which refers to the donation of "ecclesiam de Thurgartun cum tota villa" but omits the name of the donor.

Barlow suggests that Eadgyth may have been "Ealdgyth" named in the will of her mother "Wulfgyth", dated to [1042/53], who bequeathed land "at Stisted, Essex to her sons Ælfketel and Ketel…at Saxlingham, Norfolk and Somerton, Suffolk to her daughters Gode and Bote, at Chadacre, Suffolk and Ashford to her daughter Ealdgyth, and at Fritton to Earl Godwin and Earl Harold"[2056].

The connection between Wulfgyth´s family and St Benet´s, Hulme is confirmed by the testament of "Ketel" (named in his mother´s will quoted above), dated to [1052/66], which includes bequests of land to the abbey[2057]. However, Ketel´s testament names his two sisters Gode and Bote, who are also named in their mother´s will, but does not name "Ealdgyth", suggesting that the latter may have predeceased her brother. None of the sources so far identified suggests, even indirectly, that Eadgyth "Swanneshals" was the mother of the seven illegitimate children of King Harold who are shown below, but this has been assumed to be the case in secondary sources.

King Harold & [Mistress (1)] had [seven] illegitimate children:

2. GODWIN ([1045/55]-after 1069). Florence of Worcester records that "Haroldi regis filii Godwinus, Eadmundus, Magnus" returned from Ireland and landed in Somerset where they were defeated, in a passage which deals with events in mid-1068[2061]. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that "the sons of King Harold" (unnamed, and without specifying how many sons there were) came from Ireland and landed in "the mouth of the Taw", where they were defeated by "Earl Brian", before returning to Ireland[2062]. Florence of Worcester records that "duo Haroldi filiis" sailed from Ireland 24 Jun [1069] and landed "in Ostio flumis Tavi"[2063]. He and his brothers may later have taken refuge with Svend II Estrithsen King of Denmark.

3. EDMUND ([1047/55]-after 1069). Florence of Worcester records that "Haroldi regis filii Godwinus, Eadmundus, Magnus" returned from Ireland and landed in Somerset where they were defeated, in a passage which deals with events in mid-1068[2064]. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that "the sons of King Harold" (unnamed, and without specifying how many sons there were) came from Ireland and landed in "the mouth of the Taw", where they were defeated by "Earl Brian", before returning to Ireland[2065]. Florence of Worcester records that "duo Haroldi filiis" sailed from Ireland 24 Jun [1069] and landed "in Ostio flumis Tavi"[2066].

4. MAGNUS ([1050/55]-after [1069]). Florence of Worcester records that "Haroldi regis filii Godwinus, Eadmundus, Magnus" returned from Ireland and landed in Somerset where they were defeated, in a passage which deals with events in mid-1068[2067]. He may also have taken part in their raids in south-west England.

5. GYTHA ([1050/55]-). Gytha is named as King Harold's daughter in Fagrskinna, which also states that she married "Valldimar Konongr sun Iarozlæifs konongs I Holmgarde". Morkinskinna records that the mother of “Haraldr Valdimarsson”, father of Malmfrid who married Sigurd King of Norway, was “Edith the daughter of Harold Godwinson” and that her husband was “the son of King Yaroslav and Ingigerdr, the daughter of Óláfr the Swede” (although this skips a generation in the generally accepted genealogy of the Rurikids)[2068]. According to Saxo Grammaticus, after her father's death she and her two brothers "immediately emigrated to Denmark" where Svend II Estrithsen King of Denmark "received them in a spirit of family duty" and arranged her marriage to "Waldemarus King of the Russians"[2069]. Her estimated birth date range is based on the birth dates of her supposed children and the estimated date of her husband's second marriage. The husband of Gytha has generally been identified as Grand Prince Vladimir "Monomach"[2070], but Morkinskinna appears to be the only source which suggests that this is correct. Baumgarten cites no Russian source which corroborates the marriage[2071], although his work is particularly thorough in its source citations. In addition, it is surprising that no single name from Gytha's family was used among the known descendants of Grand Prince Vladimir. While it is true that the Rurikid dynasty rarely imported foreign names for the male descendants, it was not unusual for females to bear names which are recognisable from the families of foreign princesses who married into the family, the obvious example being the Scandinavian name Ingeborg used by Vladimir's son Mstislav for his daughter by Christina of Sweden. It is probable that Gytha herself would not have been considered a good marriage prospect at the time: her mother was obscure, she herself was illegitimate, her father had been killed ignominiously, her family lived in exile without influential connections, and her brothers had fallen into complete obscurity. If a Russian marriage was arranged for her, it is more likely that her husband was one of the lesser princes of the dynasty. The fact that the Scandinavian sources consistently propose a name similar to Vladimir should not be viewed as conclusive, as the difficult Russian first names were frequently transcribed into contemporary western sources with more creativity than accuracy. The inevitable, if disappointing, conclusion is that this Russian marriage of Gytha's should be viewed with caution.

[m ([1070]) as his first wife, VLADIMIR Vsevolodich of Pereiaslavl and Suzdal, son of VSEVOLOD Iaroslavich Prince of Pereiaslavl and Suzdal [later VSEVOLOD I Grand Prince of Kiev] & his first wife Maria [Irina] of Byzantium (1053-19 May 1125). He succeeded 1077 as Prince of Smolensk, 1078 as Prince of Chernigov, and 1113 as VLADIMIR "Monomach" Grand Prince of Kiev.]

6. [ULF (-after 1087). His parentage is confirmed by Florence of Worcester who records that Robert III "Curthose" Duke of Normandy released "Ulfam Haroldi quondam regis Anglorum filium, Dunechaldumque regis Scottorum Malcolmi filium" from custody after his father's death in Sep 1087, knighted them and allowed them to leave Normandy[2072]. Freeman ascribes Ulf to Harold's legitimate marriage[2073]. If this is correct, the chronology dictates that he must have been twin with his brother Harold. Freeman appears to base his hypothesis firstly on the assumption that Ulf was younger than his brothers, and secondly on the unlikelihood of his having been held hostage in Normandy if he had been illegitimate. However, the first point indicates nothing about the identity of his mother, and the second point does not appear to be a valid supposition considering the general acceptance of illegitimate birth at the time especially if the children were born from a semi-formal "marriage" of the type practised among the Norman ducal family. Barlow is dubious about Freeman´s hypothesis[2074].]

7. child (stillborn or died young, bur Christ Church, Canterbury[2075]). The Memorials of St Dunstan record that "filium comitis Haraldi" had been buried in Christ Church, Canterbury, next to the tomb of St Dunstan, recording that this had caused offence[2076].

8. GUNHILD (-after 1093). The primary source which confirms her parentage has not yet been identified. Nun at Wilton Abbey. She was abducted from the abbey in 1093 by Alain "Rufus/the Red" Lord of Richmond. She lived with him until he died soon afterwards, subsequently living with his brother and successor Alain "Niger/the Black"[2077]. Mistress (1) of: ALAN "Rufus/the Red" Lord of Richmond, son of EUDES de Bretagne Comte de Penthièvre & his wife Orguen [Agnes] de Cornouaïlle (-4 Aug 1089[2078], bur Bury St Edmunds). Mistress (2) of: ALAN "Niger/the Black" Lord of Richmond, son of EUDES de Bretagne Comte de Penthièvre & his wife Orguen [Agnes] de Cornouaïlle (-1098[2079]).

-------------------

She bore Harold several children and was his common law wife (according to Danish law, by a civil "handfast" marriage) for over 20 years. Though she was not considered Harold's wife by the Church, there is no indication that the children she bore by Harold were treated as illegitimate by the culture at the time. In fact, one of Harold Godwinesson and Edith Swan-Neck's daughters, Gyda Haraldsdatter, (also known as Gytha of Wessex), was addressed as "princess" and was married to the Grand Duke Of Kiev, Vladimir Monomakh.

Though King Harold II is said to have lawfully married Edith of Mercia, the widow of the Welsh ruler Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, (whom he defeated in battle), in 1064, this is seen by most modern scholars as a marriage of political means, or even dismissed as misunderstanding or propaganda. Since at the time Mercia and Wales were allied against England, the political marriage would give the English claim in two very troublesome regions, as well as give Harold Godwinsson a marriage deemed "legitimate" by the clergy of the Church, something his longtime common law wife, Edith Swan-Neck unfortunately could not provide.

Edith Swan-Neck would be remembered in history and folklore for one very important thing: it was she who identified Harold after his defeat at The Battle of Hastings. Harold's body was horrifically mutilated after the battle by the Norman army of William the Conquerer and despite the pleas by Harold's own mother for William to surrender Harold's body for burial, the Norman army refused even though Harold's mother offered William Harold's weight in gold. It was then that Edith Swan-Neck walked through the carnage of battle so that she may identify Harold by markings on his chest known only to her. It was because of Edith Swan-Neck's identification of Harold's body that Harold was given a Christian burial by the monks at Waltham. This legend was recounted in the well-known poem by Heinrich Heine, "The Battlefield of Hastings" (1855), which features Edith Swan-neck as the main character and claims that the 'marks known only to her' were in fact love bites.

"The Battlefield of Hastings" by Heinrich Heine, Translated by Margaret Armour

 Deeply the Abbot of Waltham sighed
   When he heard the news of woe:
 How King Harold had come to a pitiful end,
   And on Hastings field lay low.
 Asgod and Ailrik, two of his monks,
   On the mission drear he sped
 To search for the corse on the battle-plain
   Among the bloody dead.
 The monks arose and went sadly forth,
   And returned as heavy-hearted.
 O Father, the world's a bitter world,
   And evil days have started.
 For fallen, alack! is the better man;
   The Bastard has won, and knaves
 And scutcheoned thieves divide the land,
   And make the freemen slaves.
 The veriest rascals from Normandy,
   In Britain are lords and sirs.
 I saw a tailor from Bayeux ride
   With a pair of golden spurs.
 O woe to all who are Saxon born!
   Ye Saxon saints, beware!
 For high in heaven though ye dwell,
   Shame yet may be your share.
 Ah, now we know what the comet meant
   That rode, blood-red and dire,
 Across the midnight firmament
   This year on a broom of fire.
 Twas an evil star, and Hastings field
   Has fulfilled the omen dread.
 We went upon the battle-plain,
   And sought among the dead.
  While still there lingered any hope
   We sought, but sought in vain;
 King Harold's corse we could not find
   Among the bloody slain.
 Asgod and Ailrik spake and ceased.
   The Abbot wrung his hands.
 Awhile he pondered, then he sighed,
   Now mark ye my commands.
 By the stone of the bard at Grendelfield,
   Just midway through the wood,
 One, Edith of the Swan's Neck, dwells
   In a hovel poor and rude.
 They named her thus, because her neck
   Was once as slim and white
 As any swan's--when, long ago,
   She was the king's delight.
 He loved and kissed, forsook, forgot,
   For such is the way of men.
 Time runs his course with a rapid foot;
   It is sixteen years since then.
 To this woman, brethren, ye shall go,
   And she will follow you fain
 To the battle-field; the woman's eye
   Will not seek the king in vain.
 Thereafter to Waltham Abbey here
   His body ye shall bring,
 That Christian burial he may have,
   While for his soul we sing.
 The messengers reached the hut in the wood
   At the hour of midnight drear.
 Wake, Edith of the Swan's Neck, rise
   And follow without fear.
 The Duke of Normandy has won
   The battle, to our bane.
 On the field of Hastings, where he fought,
   The king is lying slain.
 Arise and come with us; we seek
   His body among the dead.
 To Waltham Abbey it shall be borne.
   Twas thus our Abbot said.
 The woman arose and girded her gown,
   And silently went behind
 The hurrying monks. Her grizzly hair
   Streamed wildly on the wind.
 Barefoot through bog and bush and briar
   She followed and did not stay,
 Till Hastings and the cliffs of chalk
   They saw at dawn of day.
 The mist, that like a sheet of white
   The field of battle cloaked,
 Melted anon; with hideous din
   The daws flew up and croaked.
 In thousands on the bloody plain
   Lay strewn the piteous corpses,
 Wounded and torn and maimed and stripped,
   Among the fallen horses.
 The woman stopped not for the blood;
   She waded barefoot through,
 And from her fixed and staring eyes
   The arrowy glances flew.
 Long, with the panting monks behind,
   And pausing but to scare
 The greedy ravens from their food,
   She searched with eager care.
 She searched and toiled the livelong day,
   Until the night was nigh;
 Then sudden from her breast there burst
   A shrill and awful cry.
 For on the battle-field at last
   His body she had found.
 She kissed, without a tear or word,
   The wan face on the ground.
 She kissed his brow, she kissed his mouth,
   She clasped him close, and pressed
 Her poor lips to the bloody wounds
   That gaped upon his breast.
 His shoulder stark she kisses too,
   When, searching, she discovers
 Three little scars her teeth had made
   When they were happy lovers.
 The monks had been and gotten boughs,
   And of these boughs they made
 A simple bier, whereon the corse
   Of the fallen king was laid.
 To Waltham Abbey to his tomb
   The king was thus removed;
 And Edith of the Swan's Neck walked
   By the body that she loved.
 She chanted litanies for his soul
   With a childish, weird lament
 That shuddered through the night. The monks
   Prayed softly as they went.

References

   * A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World, 3500 BC - 1603 AD by Simon Schama, BBC/Miramax, 2000 ISBN 0-7868-6675-6
   * The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 06: Masterpieces of German Literature Translated into English in Twenty Volumes by Kuno Francke http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12473
   * Great Tales from English History: The Truth About King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart, and More by Robert Lacey, 2004 ISBN-10: 031610910X
   * House of Godwine: The History of Dynasty by Emma Mason, 2004 ISBN-10: 1852853891
   * Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis, Lines: 176-2, 176A-4, 177-1

Historical fiction

The relationship betweenf Harold Godwinson and Edith Swan-neck is the subject of "Harold the King", by Helen Hollick

--------------------

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ealdgyth_Swan-neck

--------------------

Ealdgyth Swan-neck, also known as Edith the Fair, Edith, Aldgyth and most commonly Edith Swan-Neck {1025-1086(?)} is best known as the mistress or common-law wife of King Harold II of England.

She bore him several children and was his common law wife (according to Danish law, by a civil "handfast" marriage) for over 20 years. Though she was not considered Harold's wife by the Church, there is no indication that the children she bore by Harold were treated as illegitimate by the culture at the time. In fact, one of Harold Godwinesson and Edith Swan-Neck's daughters, Gyda Haraldsdatter, (also known as Gytha of Wessex), was addressed as "princess" and was married to the Grand Duke Of Kiev, Vladimir Monomakh. It is through this union that the Godwinesson line would remain in European nobility and would, ironically (given that this line was ended due to the Norman invasion of 1066), reenter English royalty, making the current ruler of England, Queen Elizabeth II the 29th great-granddaughter of King Harold II and Edith Swan-Neck.

Though King Harold II would "legally" marry Edith (Ealdgyth) of Mercia, the widow of the Welsh ruler Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, (who he defeated in battle), in 1064, this is seen by most modern scholars as a marriage of political means. Since at the time Mercia and Wales were allied against England, the political marriage would give the English claim in two very troublesome regions, as well as give Harold Godwinesson a marriage deemed "legitimate" by the clergy of the Church, something his longtime common law wife, Edith Swan-Neck unfortunately could not provide.

--------------------

Eadgyth Swanneshals also went by the nick-name of Edith 'Swan Neck'

--------------------

Edith Swannesha (Old English: Ealdgȳð Swann hnesce, "Edith [the] Gentle Swan"; c.1025 – c. 1086), also known as Edith Swanneschals or Edith the Fair,[1] is best known as the unwedded consort of King Harold II of England. Her common name comes from a historical misinterpretation that her nickname represented Old English swann hnecca, "swan neck". She is sometimes confused with Ældgyth, daughter of Ealdorman Ælfgar of Mercia, and Harold's wife

She bore Harold several children and was his common law wife (according to Danish law, by a civil "handfast" marriage) for over 20 years. Though she was not considered Harold's wife by the Church, there is no indication that the children she bore by Harold were treated as illegitimate by the culture at the time. In fact, one of Harold Godwinesson and Edith Swan-Neck's daughters, Gyda Haraldsdatter, (also known as Gytha of Wessex), was addressed as "princess" and was married to the Grand Duke Of Kiev, Vladimir Monomakh.

Though King Harold II is said to have lawfully married Edith of Mercia, the widow of the Welsh ruler Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, (whom he defeated in battle), in 1064, this is seen by most modern scholars as a marriage of political means, or even dismissed as misunderstanding or propaganda.[citation needed] Since at the time Mercia and Wales were allied against England, the political marriage would give the English claim in two very troublesome regions, as well as give Harold Godwinesson a marriage deemed "legitimate" by the clergy of the Church, something his longtime common law wife, Edith Swan-Neck unfortunately could not provide.

Edith Swan-Neck would be remembered in history and folklore for one very important thing: it was she who identified Harold after his defeat at The Battle of Hastings. Harold's body was horrifically mutilated after the battle by the Norman army of William the Conqueror and despite the pleas by Harold's own mother for William to surrender Harold's body for burial, the Norman army refused even though Harold's mother offered William Harold's weight in gold. It was then that Edith Swan-Neck walked through the carnage of battle so that she may identify Harold by markings on his chest known only to her. It was because of Edith Swan-Neck's identification of Harold's body that Harold was given a Christian burial by the monks at Waltham. This legend was recounted in the well-known poem by Heinrich Heine, "The Battlefield of Hastings" (1855), which features Edith Swan-neck as the main character and claims that the 'marks known only to her' were in fact love bites

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Swannesha

--------------------

Edgyth (Edith) "Svanehals" er nevnt i år 1066 og var Kong Harald II Godwinson av Englands konkubine og antagelig mor til:

1. Gyda Haraldsdatter. 1)

1. Mogens Bugge: Våre forfedre, se nr. 557. Bent og Vidar Billing Hansen: Rosensverdslektens forfedre, side 89.


--------------------

Ealdgyth Swan-neck

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ealdgyth Swan-neck, also known as Edith the Fair, Edith, Aldgyth and most commonly Edith Swan-Neck {1025-1086(?)} is best known as the mistress or common-law wife of King Harold II of England.

She bore him several children and was his common law wife (according to Danish law, by a civil "handfast" marriage) for over 20 years. Though she was not considered Harold's wife by the Church, there is no indication that the children she bore by Harold were treated as illegitimate by the culture at the time. In fact, one of Harold Godwinesson and Edith Swan-Neck's daughters, Gyda Haraldsdatter, (also known as Gytha of Wessex), was addressed as "princess" and was married to the Grand Duke Of Kiev, Vladimir Monomakh. It is through this union that the Godwinesson line would remain in European nobility and would, ironically (given that this line was ended due to the Norman invasion of 1066), reenter English royalty, making the current ruler of England, Queen Elizabeth II the 29th great-granddaughter of King Harold II and Edith Swan-Neck.

Though King Harold II would "legally" marry Edith (Ealdgyth) of Mercia, the widow of the Welsh ruler Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, (who he defeated in battle), in 1064, this is seen by most modern scholars as a marriage of political means. Since at the time Mercia and Wales were allied against England, the political marriage would give the English claim in two very troublesome regions, as well as give Harold Godwinesson a marriage deemed "legitimate" by the clergy of the Church, something his longtime common law wife, Edith Swan-Neck unfortunately could not provide.

Edith Swan-Neck would be remembered in history and folklore for one very important thing: it was she who identified Harold after his defeat at The Battle of Hastings. Harold's body was horrifically mutilated after the battle by the Norman army of William the Conquerer and despite the pleas by Harold's own mother for William to surrender Harold's body for burial, the Norman army refused even though Harold's mother offered William Harold's weight in gold. It was then that Edith Swan-Neck walked through the carnage of battle so that she may identify Harold by markings on his chest known only to her. It was because of Edith Swan-Neck's identification of Harold's body that Harold was given a Christian burial by the monks at Waltham. This legend was recounted in the well-known poem by Heinrich Heine, "The Battlefield of Hastings" (1855), which features Edith Swan-neck as the main character and claims that the 'marks known only to her' were in fact love bites.

"The Battlefield of Hastings"

by Heinrich Heine, translated by Margaret Armour

 Deeply the Abbot of Waltham sighed
   When he heard the news of woe:
 How King Harold had come to a pitiful end,
   And on Hastings field lay low.
 Asgod and Ailrik, two of his monks,
   On the mission drear he sped
 To search for the corse on the battle-plain
   Among the bloody dead.
 The monks arose and went sadly forth,
   And returned as heavy-hearted.
 O Father, the world's a bitter world,
   And evil days have started.
 For fallen, alack! is the better man;
   The Bastard has won, and knaves
 And scutcheoned thieves divide the land,
   And make the freemen slaves.
 The veriest rascals from Normandy,
   In Britain are lords and sirs.
 I saw a tailor from Bayeux ride
   With a pair of golden spurs.
 O woe to all who are Saxon born!
   Ye Saxon saints, beware!
 For high in heaven though ye dwell,
   Shame yet may be your share.
 Ah, now we know what the comet meant
   That rode, blood-red and dire,
 Across the midnight firmament
   This year on a broom of fire.
 Twas an evil star, and Hastings field
   Has fulfilled the omen dread.
 We went upon the battle-plain,
   And sought among the dead.
  While still there lingered any hope
   We sought, but sought in vain;
 King Harold's corse we could not find
   Among the bloody slain.
 Asgod and Ailrik spake and ceased.
   The Abbot wrung his hands.
 Awhile he pondered, then he sighed,
   Now mark ye my commands.
 By the stone of the bard at Grendelfield,
   Just midway through the wood,
 One, Edith of the Swan's Neck, dwells
   In a hovel poor and rude.
 They named her thus, because her neck
   Was once as slim and white
 As any swan's--when, long ago,
   She was the king's delight.
 He loved and kissed, forsook, forgot,
   For such is the way of men.
 Time runs his course with a rapid foot;
   It is sixteen years since then.
 To this woman, brethren, ye shall go,
   And she will follow you fain
 To the battle-field; the woman's eye
   Will not seek the king in vain.
 Thereafter to Waltham Abbey here
   His body ye shall bring,
 That Christian burial he may have,
   While for his soul we sing.
 The messengers reached the hut in the wood
   At the hour of midnight drear.
 Wake, Edith of the Swan's Neck, rise
   And follow without fear.
 The Duke of Normandy has won
   The battle, to our bane.
 On the field of Hastings, where he fought,
   The king is lying slain.
 Arise and come with us; we seek
   His body among the dead.
 To Waltham Abbey it shall be borne.
   Twas thus our Abbot said.
 The woman arose and girded her gown,
   And silently went behind
 The hurrying monks. Her grizzly hair
   Streamed wildly on the wind.
 Barefoot through bog and bush and briar
   She followed and did not stay,
 Till Hastings and the cliffs of chalk
   They saw at dawn of day.
 The mist, that like a sheet of white
   The field of battle cloaked,
 Melted anon; with hideous din
   The daws flew up and croaked.
 In thousands on the bloody plain
   Lay strewn the piteous corpses,
 Wounded and torn and maimed and stripped,
   Among the fallen horses.
 The woman stopped not for the blood;
   She waded barefoot through,
 And from her fixed and staring eyes
   The arrowy glances flew.
 Long, with the panting monks behind,
   And pausing but to scare
 The greedy ravens from their food,
   She searched with eager care.
 She searched and toiled the livelong day,
   Until the night was nigh;
 Then sudden from her breast there burst
   A shrill and awful cry.
 For on the battle-field at last
   His body she had found.
 She kissed, without a tear or word,
   The wan face on the ground.
 She kissed his brow, she kissed his mouth,
   She clasped him close, and pressed
 Her poor lips to the bloody wounds
   That gaped upon his breast.
 His shoulder stark she kisses too,
   When, searching, she discovers
 Three little scars her teeth had made
   When they were happy lovers.
 The monks had been and gotten boughs,
   And of these boughs they made
 A simple bier, whereon the corse
   Of the fallen king was laid.
 To Waltham Abbey to his tomb
   The king was thus removed;
 And Edith of the Swan's Neck walked
   By the body that she loved.
 She chanted litanies for his soul
   With a childish, weird lament
 That shuddered through the night. The monks
   Prayed softly as they went.

References

A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World, 3500 BC - 1603 AD by Simon Schama, BBC/Miramax, 2000 ISBN 0-7868-6675-6

The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 06: Masterpieces of German Literature Translated into English in Twenty Volumes by Kuno Francke http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12473

Great Tales from English History: The Truth About King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart, and More by Robert Lacey, 2004 ISBN-10: 031610910X

House of Godwine: The History of Dynasty by Emma Mason, 2004 ISBN-10: 1852853891

Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis, Lines: 176-2, 176A-4, 177-1

-------------------- Ealdgyth Swan-neck, also known as Edith the Fair, Edith, Aldgyth and most commonly Edith Swan-Neck {1025-1086(?)} is best known as the mistress or common-law wife of King Harold II of England.

She bore him several children and was his common law wife (according to Danish law, by a civil "handfast" marriage) for over 20 years. Though she was not considered Harold's wife by the Church, there is no indication that the children she bore by Harold were treated as illegitimate by the culture at the time. In fact, one of Harold Godwinesson and Edith Swan-Neck's daughters, Gyda Haraldsdatter, (also known as Gytha of Wessex), was addressed as "princess" and was married to the Grand Duke Of Kiev, Vladimir Monomakh. It is through this union that the Godwinesson line would remain in European nobility and would, ironically (given that this line was ended due to the Norman invasion of 1066), reenter English royalty, making the current ruler of England, Queen Elizabeth II the 29th great-granddaughter of King Harold II and Edith Swan-Neck.

Though King Harold II would "legally" marry Edith (Ealdgyth) of Mercia, the widow of the Welsh ruler Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, (who he defeated in battle), in 1064, this is seen by most modern scholars as a marriage of political means. Since at the time Mercia and Wales were allied against England, the political marriage would give the English claim in two very troublesome regions, as well as give Harold Godwinesson a marriage deemed "legitimate" by the clergy of the Church, something his longtime common law wife, Edith Swan-Neck unfortunately could not provide. -------------------- Ealdgyth Swan-neck, also known as Edith the Fair, Edith, Aldgyth and most commonly Edith Swan-Neck {1025-1086(?)} is best known as the mistress or common-law wife of King Harold II of England.

She bore him several children and was his common law wife (according to Danish law, by a civil "handfast" marriage) for over 20 years. Though she was not considered Harold's wife by the Church, there is no indication that the children she bore by Harold were treated as illegitimate by the culture at the time. In fact, one of Harold Godwinesson and Edith Swan-Neck's daughters, Gyda Haraldsdatter, (also known as Gytha of Wessex), was addressed as "princess" and was married to the Grand Duke Of Kiev, Vladimir Monomakh. It is through this union that the Godwinesson line would remain in European nobility and would, ironically (given that this line was ended due to the Norman invasion of 1066), reenter English royalty, making the current ruler of England, Queen Elizabeth II the 29th great-granddaughter of King Harold II and Edith Swan-Neck.

Though King Harold II would "legally" marry Edith (Ealdgyth) of Wessex, the widow of the Welsh ruler Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, (who he defeated in battle), in 1064, this is seen by most modern scholars as a marriage of political means. Since at the time Mercia and Wales were allied against England, the political marriage would give the English claim in two very troublesome regions, as well as give Harold Godwinesson a marriage deemed "legitimate" by the clergy of the Church, something his longtime common law wife, Edith Swan-Neck unfortunately could not provide.

Edith Swan-Neck would be remembered in history and folklore for one very important thing: it was she who identified Harold after his defeat at The Battle of Hastings. Harold's body was horrifically mutilated after the battle by the Norman army of William the Conquerer and despite the pleas by Harold's own mother for William to surrender Harold's body for burial, the Norman army refused even though Harold's mother offered William Harold's weight in gold. It was then that Edith Swan-Neck walked through the carnage of battle so that she may identify Harold by markings on his chest known only to her. It was because of Edith Swan-Neck's identification of Harold's body that Harold was given a Christian burial by the monks at Waltham. This legend was recounted in the well-known poem by Heinrich Heine, "The Battlefield of Hastings" (1855), which features Edith Swan-neck as the main character and claims that the 'marks known only to her' were in fact love bites. -------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ealdgyth,_daughter_of_Earl_%C3%86lfgar -------------------- Probably the same as http://www.geni.com/people/Edith-the-Fair/6000000001391856400?through=6000000001156149953

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Edith the Fair's Timeline

1025
1025
Wessex, England
1045
1045
Age 20
in "handfast" wife - non christian marriage
1047
1047
Age 22
Wessex, England
1049
1049
Age 24
Wessex, England
1051
1051
Age 26
Wessex, England
1053
1053
Age 28
London, Middlesex, England
1055
1055
Age 30
London, Middlesex, England
1065
1065
Age 40
Wessex, England
1066
December 1066
Age 41
1086
1086
Age 61