Who was Tostig Godwinson?
Tostig Godwinson was an English nobleman who lived in the 11th century. He was the son of Earl Godwin of Wessex and his wife Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, and therefore the brother of King Harold Godwinson, who ruled England from 1066 to 1066.
Tostig was Earl of Northumbria from 1055 to 1065, but he was unpopular with the local nobility and the people of Northumbria, who resented his heavy-handed rule and high taxes. In 1065, Tostig was deposed from his earldom by a Northumbrian rebellion, and he went into exile in Europe.
In 1066, Tostig joined forces with Harald Hardrada, the king of Norway, and together they invaded England with a fleet of ships. Their aim was to overthrow Tostig’s brother, King Harold, and seize the English throne for themselves.
Tostig and Hardrada had recently won a battle at Fulford near York, but they were caught off guard at Stamford Bridge when the English army suddenly appeared to challenge them. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Norwegian army was divided, with some of their soldiers still on the other side of the bridge when the English arrived.
Despite this disadvantage, the Norwegian army fought fiercely, with Hardrada himself reportedly holding the bridge against the English for a time. However, the English eventually broke through and the battle devolved into a bloody melee. Both Hardrada and Tostig were killed in the fighting, and the Norwegian army was decisively defeated.
The Battle of Stamford Bridge is notable for its high casualty rate and the fact that it was fought just a few days before the better-known Battle of Hastings, which saw William the Conqueror defeat King Harold and claim the English throne.
The Battle of Stamford Bridge is also significant because it marked the end of the Viking Age in England, as Hardrada and Tostig’s defeat effectively put an end to Viking incursions into England.