Edward the Confessor

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Edward the Confessor,

d. 1066, king of the English (1042–66), son of Æthelred the Unready and his Norman wife, Emma. After the Danish conquest (1013–16) of England, Edward grew up at the Norman court, although his mother returned to England and married the Danish king Canute. In 1041, Edward was brought to England by his half-brother HarthacanuteHarthacanute
, Hardicanute,
or Hardecanute
, d. 1042, king of Denmark (1035–42) and of the English (1040–42); son of Canute and Emma. On his father's death (1035) he succeeded to the throne of Denmark, where he was already the effective ruler.
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, whom he succeeded as king in 1042. Edward was an able but not very energetic ruler, and he was unable to assert his authority over the great earls of the kingdom. Most powerful of these was GodwinGodwin
or Godwine
, d. 1053, earl of Wessex. He became chief adviser to King Canute, was created (c.1018) an earl, and was given great wealth and lands. After Canute's death (1035) Godwin and Queen Emma, Canute's widow, supported the claims to succession of her son
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, whose daughter Edith married (1045) the king. Edward's natural inclination to favor the Normans in England—notably Robert of JumiègesRobert of Jumièges
, fl. 1037–52, Norman churchman in England, b. Normandy. As abbot of Jumièges he won the favor of Edward (later Edward the Confessor) during Edward's exile in Normandy.
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, whom he made archbishop of Canterbury in 1051—led to a breach with Godwin. In 1051, after a fracas between the king's brother-in-law, Eustace IIEustace II
, d. 1093, count of Boulogne. He was the brother-in-law of Edward the Confessor of England. Visiting England in 1051, he and his followers became involved in a brawl with the citizens of Dover.
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, count of Boulogne, and the citizens of Dover, Godwin refused to obey Edward's order to punish the men of Dover and tried to raise a revolt. Edward, however, was supported by Leofric of Mercia and SiwardSiward
, d. 1055, earl of Northumbria. A Danish warrior, he probably came to England with King Canute. At the behest of King Harthacanute in 1041 he ravaged Worcestershire and perhaps murdered Eadwulf of Northumbria; thereafter he was himself earl of Northumbria.
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 of Northumbria, and he outlawed and banished Godwin and his family. In their absence Edward received William, duke of Normandy (later William IWilliam I
or William the Conqueror,
1027?–1087, king of England (1066–87). Earnest and resourceful, William was not only one of the greatest of English monarchs but a pivotal figure in European history as well.
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), and apparently made him his heir. In 1052, Godwin and his sons returned and demonstrated their power by forcing Edward to accept StigandStigand
, d. 1072, English prelate. He held simultaneously the sees of Winchester and Canterbury from 1052 though official recognition of this did not come until 1058 from Benedict X, an antipope.
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 as archbishop of Canterbury instead of Robert. Thenceforth the king took less interest in his realm, becoming absorbed in his religion and in supervising the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey. Shortly before his death, Edward named HaroldHarold,
1022?–1066, king of England (1066). The son of Godwin, earl of Wessex, he belonged to the most powerful noble family of England in the reign of Edward the Confessor. Through Godwin's influence Harold was made earl of East Anglia.
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, son of Godwin, as his successor, possibly in the hope of averting the threat of war posed by the rival claims to the throne of William of Normandy and Harold IIIHarold III
or Harold Hardrada
, Norse Harald Harðráði [Harold stern council], d. 1066, king of Norway (1046–66), half-brother of Olaf II.
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 of Norway. Edward's piety was responsible for his name the Confessor. He was canonized in the 12th cent. Feast: Oct. 13.

Bibliography

See biography by F. Barlow (1970).

Edward the Confessor

 

Born circa 1003, in Islip, Oxfordshire; died Jan. 5,1066, in London. Anglo-Saxon king from 1042.

Edward was chosen king by a council of the nobility, who sought through him to restore the ancient Anglo-Saxon dynasty and end the Danish domination of England. He left the Continent, where he had lived for many years, and returned to England accompanied by a large entourage of Norman feudal lords, who soon occupied key positions at his court. Dissatisfaction with Norman dominance resulted in an uprising in 1051. Led by Godwin of Wessex, Edward’s father-in-law, the rebels achieved the expulsion of the Normans from England. The administration of the state passed first to Godwin, who died in 1053, and then to Godwin’s son Harold, whom Edward named as his successor to the throne.

Edward the Confessor

Saint. ?1002--66, king of England (1042--66); son of Ethelred II; founder of Westminster Abbey. Feast day: Oct. 13