Earl of Wessex is a title that 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. The region of Wessex (the "West Saxons'), in the south and southwest of England, had been one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms (the Heptarchy), whose expansion in the tenth century created a united Kingdom of England.
== First creation ==
Wessex was one of the four earldoms of Anglo-Danish England.〔''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'', 1007: "In this year also was Edric appointed alderman over all the kingdom of the Mercians.", 1017: "This year also was Alderman Edric slain at London".〕 In this period the earldom of Wessex covered the lands of the old kingdom of Wessex, covering the counties of the south of England, and extending west to the Welsh border.
During the reign of King Canute the earldom was conferred on Godwin at some time after 1020.〔Mason p33〕 Thereafter Godwin rose to become, in King Edward's time, the most powerful man in the kingdom.
On his death in 1053 the earldom passed to Godwin's son, who later became King Harold II and died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Following the Norman conquest in the winter of 1066, King William bestowed the earldom on William FitzOsbern, his most trusted companion.〔Crouch p100〕
FitzOsbern continued to help William consolidate his new realm until his death in Normandy in 1071.
Following this the earldom was reduced in power and regional jurisdiction, and passed to FitzOsbern's son, Roger, as the earldom of Hereford.〔Crouch p108〕
* Godwin, Earl of Wessex (c. 1001–1053)
* Harold Godwinson (c. 1022–1066) also Earl of East Anglia; ascended to the throne of King of England in January 1066
* William FitzOsbern (c. 1020–1071)
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