Ellie Wood Keith Genealogy

Leofric, Ealdorman of Mercia

Male Abt 980 - 1057  (~ 77 years)


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  • Name Leofric  
    Suffix Ealdorman of Mercia 
    Born Abt 980 
    Gender Male 
    History Leofric was the son of Leofwine, ealdorman of the Hwice, and Alwara. Leofric\'s elder brother Northman was killed in 1017, in the losing battles against the invading army of Knud \'den Store\'. Leofric had at least two other brothers. Edwin was killed in battle by Gruyffydd ap Llywelyn in 1039. Godwine died some time before 1057.

    Leofric married his wife Godgifu of Bucknall, famous as Lady Godiva, about 1030. Their son Alfgar was their only known child.

    The victorious Knud divided England into four great provinces: Wessex, East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria, each of which he eventually placed under the control of an earl (a title new to the English, replacing the Anglo-Saxon \'ealdorman\'). Mercia he initially left in the hand of Eadric Streona, who had been ealdorman of Mercia since 1007, but Eadric was killed later in 1017.

    Mercia may have been given to Leofric immediately after that. He had certainly become earl of Mercia by the 1030s. This made him one of the most powerful men in the land, second only to Earl Godwin of Wessex among the mighty earls. He may have had some connection by marriage with Aelgifu of Northampton, the first wife of Knud. That might help explain why he supported her son Harold I Harefoot against Hardeknud, Knud\'s son by Emma, when Knud died in 1035.

    However Harold died in 1040 and was succeeded by Hardeknud, who made himself unpopular with heavy taxation in his short reign. Two of his tax collectors were killed at Worcester by angry locals. The king was so enraged by this that in 1041 he ordered Leofric and his other earls to plunder and burn the city, and lay waste the whole area. This command must have sorely tested Leofric. Worcester was the cathedral city of the Hwice, his people.

    When Hardeknud suddenly died in 1042, he was succeeded by his half-brother Edward \'the Confessor\'. Leofric loyally supported Edward when he came under threat at Gloucester from Earl Godwin in 1051. Leofric and Earl Siward of Northumbria gathered a great army to meet that of Godwin. Wise heads counselled that battle would be folly, with the flower of England on both sides; their loss would leave England open to its enemies. So the issue was resolved by less bloody means. Earl Godwin and his family were outlawed for a time. Earl Leofric\'s power was then at its height.

    Leofric and Godgifu were noted for great generosity to religious houses. In 1043 he founded and endowed a Benedictine monastery at Coventry. John of Worcester tells us that \'He and his wife, the noble Countess Godgifu, a worshipper of God and devout lover of St. Mary ever-virgin, built the monastery there from the foundations out of their own patrimony, and endowed it adequately with lands and made it so rich in various ornaments that in no monastery in England might be found the abundance of gold, silver, gems and precious stones that was at that time in its possession.\'

    In the 1050s Leofric and Godgifu appear jointly in the grant of land to the monastery of St. Mary, Worcester, and the endowment of the minster at Stow St. Mary, Lincolnshire. She and her husband are commemorated as benefactors of other monasteries at Leominster, Chester, Much Wenlock, and Evesham.

    Leofric died \'at a good old age\' in 1057 at his estate at Kings Bromley in Staffordshire. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he died on 30 September, but the chronicler of Worcester gives the date as 31 August. Both agree that he was buried at Coventry. Alfgar succeeded him as earl of Mercia, but he himself died between 1059 and 1062..  [1
    Died 31 Aug 1057  Bromley, County Stafford, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I2898  Ellie Wood Keith
    Last Modified 5 Apr 2018 

    Father Leofwine, Ealdorman of the Hwice,   b. Abt 950,   d. 1028/32, 78yo Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 82 years) 
    Mother Alwara 
    Family ID F1901  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Godgifu (Lady Godiva) of Bucknail,   b. Abt 995,   d. Abt 1066/68, 71yo Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 73 years) 
    Children 
    +1. Alfgar (the Saxon), Ealdorman of Mercia,   b. Abt 1015,   d. Abt 1059/1062, 44yo Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 47 years)
    Last Modified 5 Apr 2018 
    Family ID F1900  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources 
    1. [S64] Genealogics, Leo Van de Pas, http://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00027594&tree=LEO.