Godwin, Earl of Wessex
Godwin of Wessex (990 – 15 April 1053), was one of the most powerful lords in England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 under the Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 king Cnut the Great and his successors. Cnut made him the first Earl of Wessex
Earl of Wessex
The title Earl of Wessex has been created twice in British history, once in the pre-Conquest Anglo-Saxon nobility of England and once in the Peerage of the United Kingdom...

. Godwin was the father of King Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

 and Edith of Wessex
Edith of Wessex
Edith of Wessex married King Edward the Confessor of England on 23 January 1045. Unlike most wives of kings of England in the tenth and eleventh centuries, she was crowned queen, but the marriage produced no children...

, wife of King Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor also known as St. Edward the Confessor , son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and is usually regarded as the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from 1042 to 1066....

Godwin's father was possibly Wulfnoth Cild
Wulfnoth Cild
Wulfnoth Cild 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 Godwinson...

 who was a thegn
The term thegn , from OE þegn, ðegn "servant, attendant, retainer", is commonly used to describe either an aristocratic retainer of a king or nobleman in Anglo-Saxon England, or as a class term, the majority of the aristocracy below the ranks of ealdormen and high-reeves...

 of Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

, although later documents describe his father as a churl
A churl , in its earliest Old English meaning, was simply "a man", but the word soon came to mean "a non-servile peasant", still spelt ċeorl, and denoting the lowest rank of freemen...

. Wulfnoth led a section of the royal fleet into piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 and as a consequence had his lands forfeited, and was exiled.

Sir king, I have been often accused of harbouring traitorous designs against you, but, as God in heaven is just and true, may this morsel of bread choke me if even in thought I have ever been false to you.

The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon (trans. Thomas Forester), Book VI