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Waltheof

Waltheof (d. 1076). Waltheof was the son of Siward, earl of Northumberland and victor over Macbeth, who died in 1055. Waltheof did not then inherit the earldom, presumably because he was too young, and it passed to Tostig, brother of Harold Godwineson. But on Tostig's exile in 1065, Waltheof became earl of Huntingdon. In 1069 he joined the Danish attack on York, but submitted to William the Conqueror in 1070, and was made earl of Northumberland two years later. He was also given a niece of the king in marriage. But in 1075 he was on the fringes of another conspiracy against William, who had him executed at Winchester the following year. The cause of his downfall has been discussed, but presumably William was exasperated at a man who had rebelled once, been given a royal bride, and was disloyal again. A man of great strength and piety, Waltheof was revered by some after his death and reputed to have been a hero to the English, though his ancestry was Danish. On this showing he was technically the last Englishman to be an earl in the Norman period.

J. A. Cannon

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