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Edward the Confessor

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This profile of Edward the Confessor is part of
Who's Who in Medieval History

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Edward the Confessor was noted for:

His piety, his Norman ties, and his ineffectiveness as a monarch. Edward was dominated by his wife's family, the Godwins,

Occupations and Role in Society:

Places of Residence and Influence:

Important Dates:

Born: c. 1003
Crowned: April 3, 1043
Westminster Abbey Consecrated: Dec. 28, 1065
Died: Jan. 5, 1066

About Edward the Confessor:

Known as "the Confessor" for his extreme piety, the third Anglo-Saxon king by the name of Edward was a somewhat ineffectual monarch. He had grown up in France and had many ties to Normans; when he succeeded his half-brother Harthacanute as king of England, he installed many Norman nobles in positions of power. This alienated the Anglo-Saxon lords.

Edward married Edith, the daughter of the powerful Anglo-Saxon Earl Godwin (or Godwine) of Wessex, but the union resulted in no children, possibly because Edward was determined to remain celibate. His reign was fairly peaceful, but it also saw ongoing struggles with the Godwins, including a conflict over who would control the Archbishopric of Canterbury, as well as disruptions in Wales and northern England.

According to Norman sources, in 1051 Edward promised William of Normandy the crown, but on his deathbed he apparently named Godwin's son Harold his heir. Harold took the throne but would lose his life at the Battle of Hastings against William's successful invasion force.

Edward spent much of his later years focused on the construction of a new church at the site of an old Benedictine monastery, Westminster Abbey. He was too sick to attend its consecration, and died barely a week later. He was canonized in 1161 and is the patron saint of difficult marriages, separated spouses, and kings.

Note: although Edward the Confessor is the third Anglo-Saxon king Edward, he is not to be confused with the Norman King Edward III, who reigned in the 14th century.

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