On Godwin’s death the king appointed the earl’s eldestsurviving son, Harold, to succeed his father in the earldom of Wessex. In Scandinavia, where it was believed that Harold was junior to Tostig, it was thought that he had been brought up at Edward’s court as his foster-son, as the king had no children of his own (King Harald’s Saga, cap. 75). It was also thought that, whereas Tostig was made commander of the English army, Harold was put in charge of the royal exchequer (cap. 77). Vita, rather better informed in connection with Harold’s succession to Wessex, calls him at pages 46-7 the wisest of the brothers and claims that at his promotion the whole country rejoiced. To East Anglia, which Harold relinquished, Edward appointed Ælfgar, Earl Leofric of Mercia’s son. The effect was to strengthen the Mercian family at the expense of the Godwins. Each now had control over a latitudinal stretch of the kingdom, with the third, the northern tranche, still in the hands of Earl Siward the Dane. In the Welsh march Earl Ralf of Mantes had, it seems, been left undisturbed in 1052; and Earl Odda of Deerhurst appears to have remained in control of some other border shires. This was a compromise situation at the expense of Tostig, Godwin’s second surviving son, now married to Judith of Flanders and waiting impatiently

for an earldom. It was also a sign that all parties were, for the moment, prepared to tolerate the others. But Tostig may have acquired a grievance. It could be — it is even likely — that he and Harold were always rivals, the cadet resenting his senior’s advantages. But the story of how, when boys, they had a fight at Edward’s court and the king prophesied the events of 10656, does not appear before Ailred of Rievaulx’s Vita Sancti Edwardi, written in 1163.1

Edward had been humiliated; but he had learnt the lesson that he could not rely on a ‘king’s party’ and was powerless without the cooperation of some of the great provincial earls. He had, however, probably acknowledged William of Normandy’s interest in the succession and by 1065 the duke had Godwin’s youngest son, Wulfnoth, and the late Earl Swegen’s son, Hacon, in his custody.2 Although it is not clear exactly when and how these got into his hands, the likeliest scenario is that Godwin surrendered them to Edward some time in the autumn of 1051, and that the king transferred them to William when the duke visited him later in that year. If Edward had indeed made William his heir, the transfer of Godwin’s hostages would have been to bind that family to the scheme. But it could also have been a spiteful gesture which gave Edward himself some control over the family’s behaviour.