Gytha Torkelsdotter (also called Githa) was the daughter of Torkel Styrbjörnsson (also called Thorkill), and graddaughter of the legendary Jomsviking Styrbjörn Starke. In 1019, she married the Anglo-Saxon nobleman Godwin of Wessex, apparently as his second wife (his first wife having been a Danish princess).
They had a large family together, of whom five sons became Earls at one time or another, three remaining earls in 1066. Among their children were Harold II of England and Tostig Godwinson, who later faced each other at the Battle of Stamford Bridge; their eldest daughter was Edith of Wessex, Queen consort of Edward the Confessor. The marriage resulted in the birth of many children:
- Sweyn Godwinson, Earl of Herefordshire (c. 1023 - [). At some point he declared himself an illegitimate son of Canute the Great but this is considered to be a false claim.
- Harold II of England (c. 1022 - October 14, 1066)
- Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumbria (c. 1026 - September 25, 1066)
- Edith of Wessex, (c. 1030 - December 19, 1075), queen consort of Edward the Confessor.
- Gyrth Godwinson (c. 1030 - October 14, 1066)
- Gunhilda of Wessex, a nun (c. 1035 - 1080)
- Aelfgifu of Wessex (c. 1035)
- Leofwine Godwinson, Earl of Kent (c. 1035 - October 14, 1066)
- Wulfnoth Godwinson (c. 1040)
- Marigard of Wessex (February 6, 1033 - August 6, 1083)
Four of her sons were killed in two successive battles: Tostig at Stamford Bridge; and Harold II, Gyrth, and Leofwine at Hastings. After the Battle of Hastings, Gytha pleaded unsuccessfully with the Conqueror for the return of the body of her slain son Harold II. Her surviving (and youngest) son Wulfnoth lived nearly all his life in (pleasant) captivity in Normandy] until the Conqueror's death 1087. Only her eldest daughter Queen Edith still held some power (however nominal) as widow of Edward the Confessor.
Gytha left the Kingdom of England after the Norman conquest of England, together with the wives or widows and families of other prominent Anglo-Saxons, their family estates having been confiscated by the Normans, there was little hope left. Little else is known of Gytha's life or future, although it is probable that she went to Scandinavia (like her granddaughter and namesake), where she had relatives.