Edward the Confessor[a] (Old English: Ēadƿeard Andettere [æːɑdwæɑrˠd ɑndetere]; Latin: Eduardus Confessor [ɛ.dʊˈar.dʊs kɔ̃ˈfɛs.sɔr]; c. 1003 – 5 January 1066), also known as Saint Edward the Confessor, was among the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England. Usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex, he ruled from 1042 to 1066.
Edward was the son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy. He succeeded Cnut the Great's son – and his own half brother – Harthacnut. He restored the rule of the House of Wessex after the period of Danish rule since Cnut (better known as Canute) conquered England in 1016. When Edward died in 1066, he was succeeded by Harold Godwinson, who was defeated and killed in the same year by the Normans under William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. Edgar the Ætheling, who was of the House of Wessex, was proclaimed king after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, but never ruled and was deposed after about eight weeks.
Historians disagree about Edward's fairly long (24-year) reign. His nickname reflects the traditional image of him as unworldly and pious. Confessor reflects his reputation as a saint who did not suffer martyrdom, as opposed to King Edward the Martyr. Some portray Edward the Confessor's reign as leading to the disintegration of royal power in England and the advance in power of the House of Godwin, due to the infighting that began after his heirless death. Biographers Frank Barlow and Peter Rex, on the other hand, portray Edward as a successful king, one who was energetic, resourceful and sometimes ruthless; they argue that the Norman conquest shortly after his death tarnished his image. However, Richard Mortimer argues that the return of the Godwins from exile in 1052 "meant the effective end of his exercise of power", citing Edward's reduced activity as implying "a withdrawal from affairs".
About a century later, in 1161, Pope Alexander III canonised the late king. Saint Edward was one of England's national saints until King Edward III adopted Saint George as the national patron saint in about 1350. Saint Edward's feast day is 13 October, celebrated by both the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
|Edward the Confessor|
EDWARD(US) REX: Edward the Confessor, enthroned, opening scene of the Bayeux Tapestry
|King of England|
|Reign||8 June 1042 – 5 January 1066|
|Coronation||3 April 1043, Winchester Cathedral|
Islip, Oxfordshire, England
|Died||5 January 1066 (aged 60–63)|
Westminster Abbey, England
|Spouse||Edith of Wessex|
|Father||Æthelred the Unready|
|Mother||Emma of Normandy|
Edward was the seventh son of Æthelred the Unready, and the first by his second wife, Emma of Normandy. Edward was born between 1003 and 1005 in Islip, Oxfordshire, and is first recorded as a 'witness' to two charters in 1005. He had one full brother, Alfred, and a sister, Godgifu. In charters he was always listed behind his older half-brothers, showing that he ranked behind them.
During his childhood, England was the target of Viking raids and invasions under Sweyn Forkbeard and his son, Cnut. Following Sweyn's seizure of the throne in 1013, Emma fled to Normandy, followed by Edward and Alfred, and then by Æthelred. Sweyn died in February 1014, and leading Englishmen invited Æthelred back on condition that he promised to rule 'more justly' than before. Æthelred agreed, sending Edward back with his ambassadors. Æthelred died in April 1016, and he was succeeded by Edward's older half-brother Edmund Ironside, who carried on the fight against Sweyn's son, Cnut. According to Scandinavian tradition, Edward fought alongside Edmund; as Edward was at most thirteen years old at the time, the story is disputed. Edmund died in November 1016, and Cnut became undisputed king. Edward then again went into exile with his brother and sister; in 1017 his mother married Cnut. In the same year Cnut had Edward's last surviving elder half-brother, Eadwig, executed, leaving Edward as the leading Anglo-Saxon claimant to the throne.
Edward spent a quarter of a century in exile, probably mainly in Normandy, although there is no evidence of his location until the early 1030s. He probably received support from his sister Godgifu, who married Drogo of Mantes, count of Vexin in about 1024. In the early 1030s, Edward witnessed four charters in Normandy, signing two of them as king of England. According to the Norman chronicler, William of Jumièges, Robert I, Duke of Normandy attempted an invasion of England to place Edward on the throne in about 1034, but it was blown off course to Jersey. He also received support for his claim to the throne from a number of continental abbots, particularly Robert, abbot of the Norman abbey of Jumièges, who was later to become Edward's Archbishop of Canterbury. Edward was said to have developed an intense personal piety during this period, but modern historians regard this as a product of the later medieval campaign for his canonisation. In Frank Barlow's view "in his lifestyle would seem to have been that of a typical member of the rustic nobility". He appeared to have a slim prospect of acceding to the English throne during this period, and his ambitious mother was more interested in supporting Harthacnut, her son by Cnut.
Cnut died in 1035, and Harthacnut succeeded him as king of Denmark. It is unclear whether he intended to keep England as well, but he was too busy defending his position in Denmark to come to England to assert his claim to the throne. It was therefore decided that his elder half-brother Harold Harefoot should act as regent, while Emma held Wessex on Harthacnut's behalf. In 1036 Edward and his brother Alfred separately came to England. Emma later claimed that they came in response to a letter forged by Harold inviting them to visit her, but historians believe that she probably did invite them in an effort to counter Harold's growing popularity. Alfred was captured by Godwin, Earl of Wessex who turned him over to Harold Harefoot. He had Alfred blinded by forcing red-hot pokers into his eyes to make him unsuitable for kingship, and Alfred died soon after as a result of his wounds. The murder is thought to be the source of much of Edward's later hatred for the Earl and one of the primary reasons for Godwin's banishment in autumn 1051. Edward is said to have fought a successful skirmish near Southampton, and then retreated back to Normandy.[b] He thus showed his prudence, but he had some reputation as a soldier in Normandy and Scandinavia.
In 1037, Harold was accepted as king, and the following year he expelled Emma, who retreated to Bruges. She then summoned Edward and demanded his help for Harthacnut, but he refused as he had no resources to launch an invasion, and disclaimed any interest for himself in the throne. Harthacnut, his position in Denmark now secure, did plan an invasion, but Harold died in 1040, and Harthacnut was able to cross unopposed, with his mother, to take the English throne.
In 1041, Harthacnut invited Edward back to England, probably as heir because he knew he had not long to live. The 12th century Quadripartitus, in an account regarded as convincing by historian John Maddicott, states that he was recalled by the intervention of Bishop Ælfwine of Winchester and Earl Godwin. Edward met "the thegns of all England" at Hursteshever, probably modern Hurst Spit opposite the Isle of Wight. There he was received as king in return for his oath that he would continue the laws of Cnut. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Edward was sworn in as king alongside Harthacnut, but a diploma issued by Harthacnut in 1042 describes him as the king's brother.
Following Harthacnut's death on 8 June 1042, Godwin, the most powerful of the English earls, supported Edward, who succeeded to the throne. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describes the popularity he enjoyed at his accession – "before he [Harthacnut] was buried, all the people chose Edward as king in London." Edward was crowned at the cathedral of Winchester, the royal seat of the West Saxons, on 3 April 1043.
Edward complained that his mother had "done less for him than he wanted before he became king, and also afterwards". In November 1043 he rode to Winchester with his three leading earls, Leofric of Mercia, Godwin and Siward of Northumbria, to deprive her of her property, possibly because she was holding on to treasure which belonged to the king. Her adviser, Stigand, was deprived of his bishopric of Elmham in East Anglia. However, both were soon restored to favour. Emma died in 1052.
Edward's position when he came to the throne was weak. Effective rule required keeping on terms with the three leading earls, but loyalty to the ancient house of Wessex had been eroded by the period of Danish rule, and only Leofric was descended from a family which had served Æthelred. Siward was probably Danish, and although Godwin was English, he was one of Cnut's new men, married to Cnut's former sister-in-law. However, in his early years Edward restored the traditional strong monarchy, showing himself, in Frank Barlow's view, "a vigorous and ambitious man, a true son of the impetuous Æthelred and the formidable Emma."
In 1043 Godwin's eldest son Sweyn was appointed to an earldom in the south-west midlands, and on 23 January 1045 Edward married Godwin's daughter Edith. Soon afterwards, her brother Harold and her Danish cousin Beorn Estrithson, were also given earldoms in southern England. Godwin and his family now ruled subordinately all of Southern England. However, in 1047 Sweyn was banished for abducting the Abbess of Leominster. In 1049 he returned to try to regain his earldom, but this was said to have been opposed by Harold and Beorn, probably because they had been given Sweyn's land in his absence. Sweyn murdered his cousin Beorn and went again into exile, and Edward's nephew, Ralph was given Beorn's earldom, but the following year Sweyn's father was able to secure his reinstatement.
The wealth of Edward's lands exceeded that of the greatest earls, but they were scattered among the southern earldoms. He had no personal powerbase, and he does not seem to have attempted to build one. In 1050–51 he even paid off the fourteen foreign ships which constituted his standing navy and abolished the tax raised to pay for it. However, in ecclesiastical and foreign affairs he was able to follow his own policy. King Magnus I of Norway aspired to the English throne, and in 1045 and 1046, fearing an invasion, Edward took command of the fleet at Sandwich. Beorn's elder brother, Sweyn II of Denmark "submitted himself to Edward as a son", hoping for his help in his battle with Magnus for control of Denmark, but in 1047 Edward rejected Godwin's demand that he send aid to Sweyn, and it was only Magnus's death in October that saved England from attack and allowed Sweyn to take the Danish throne.
Modern historians reject the traditional view that Edward mainly employed Norman favourites, but he did have foreigners in his household, including a few Normans, who became unpopular. Chief among them was Robert, abbot of the Norman abbey of Jumièges, who had known Edward from the 1030s and came to England with him in 1041, becoming bishop of London in 1043. According to the Vita Edwardi, he became "always the most powerful confidential adviser to the king".
In ecclesiastical appointments, Edward and his advisers showed a bias against candidates with local connections, and when the clergy and monks of Canterbury elected a relative of Godwin as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1051, Edward rejected him and appointed Robert of Jumièges, who claimed that Godwin was in illegal possession of some archiepiscopal estates. In September Edward was visited by his brother-in-law, Godgifu's second husband, Eustace II of Boulogne. His men caused an affray in Dover, and Edward ordered Godwin as earl of Kent to punish the town's burgesses, but he took their side and refused. Edward seized the chance to bring his over-mighty earl to heel. Archbishop Robert accused Godwin of plotting to kill the king, just as he had killed his brother Alfred in 1036, while Leofric and Siward supported the king and called up their vassals. Sweyn and Harold called up their own vassals, but neither side wanted a fight, and Godwin and Sweyn appear to have each given a son as hostage, who were sent to Normandy. The Godwins' position disintegrated as their men were not willing to fight the king. When Stigand, who was acting as intermediary, conveyed the king's jest that Godwin could have his peace if he could restore Alfred and his companions alive and well, Godwin and his sons fled, going to Flanders and Ireland. Edward repudiated Edith and sent her to a nunnery, perhaps because she was childless, and Archbishop Robert urged her divorce.
Sweyn went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem (dying on his way back), but Godwin and his other sons returned with an army following a year later, and received considerable support, while Leofric and Siward failed to support the king. Both sides were concerned that a civil war would leave the country open to foreign invasion. The king was furious, but he was forced to give way and restore Godwin and Harold to their earldoms, while Robert of Jumièges and other Frenchmen fled, fearing Godwin's vengeance. Edith was restored as queen, and Stigand, who had again acted as an intermediary between the two sides in the crisis, was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in Robert's place. Stigand retained his existing bishopric of Winchester, and his pluralism was to be a continuing source of dispute with the pope. Edward's nephew, Earl Ralph, who had been one of his chief supporters in the crisis of 1051–52, may have received Sweyn's marcher earldom of Hereford at this time.
Until the mid-1050s Edward was able to structure his earldoms so as to prevent the Godwins becoming dominant. Godwin himself died in 1053 and although Harold succeeded to his earldom of Wessex, none of his other brothers were earls at this date. His house was then weaker than it had been since Edward's succession, but a succession of deaths in 1055–57 completely changed the picture. In 1055 Siward died but his son was considered too young to command Northumbria, and Harold's brother, Tostig was appointed. In 1057 Leofric and Ralph died, and Leofric's son Ælfgar succeeded as Earl of Mercia, while Harold's brother Gyrth succeeded Ælfgar as Earl of East Anglia. The fourth surviving Godwin brother, Leofwine, was given an earldom in the south-east carved out of Harold's territory, and Harold received Ralph's territory in compensation. Thus by 1057 the Godwin brothers controlled all of England subordinately apart from Mercia. It is not known whether Edward approved of this transformation or whether he had to accept it, but from this time he seems to have begun to withdraw from active politics, devoting himself to hunting, which he pursued each day after attending church.
In the 1050s, Edward pursued an aggressive, and generally successful, policy in dealing with Scotland and Wales. Malcolm Canmore was an exile at Edward's court after his father, Duncan I, was in 1040 killed in battle against men led by Macbeth who seized the Scottish throne. In 1054 Edward sent Siward to invade Scotland. He defeated Macbeth, and Malcolm, who had accompanied the expedition, gained control of southern Scotland. By 1058 Malcolm had killed Macbeth in battle and taken the Scottish throne. In 1059 he visited Edward, but in 1061 he started raiding Northumbria with the aim of adding it to his territory.
In 1053 Edward ordered the assassination of the south Welsh prince Rhys ap Rhydderch in reprisal for a raid on England, and Rhys's head was delivered to him. In 1055 Gruffydd ap Llywelyn established himself as the ruler of all Wales, and allied himself with Ælfgar of Mercia, who had been outlawed for treason. They defeated Earl Ralph at Hereford, and Harold had to collect forces from nearly all of England to drive the invaders back into Wales. Peace was concluded with the reinstatement of Ælfgar, who was able to succeed as Earl of Mercia on his father's death in 1057. Gruffydd swore an oath to be a faithful under-king of Edward. Ælfgar appears to have died in 1062 and his young son Edwin was allowed to succeed as Earl of Mercia, but Harold then launched a surprise attack on Gruffydd. He escaped, but when Harold and Tostig attacked again the following year, he retreated and was killed by Welsh enemies. Edward and Harold were then able to impose vassalage on some Welsh princes.
In October 1065 Harold's brother, Tostig, the earl of Northumbria, was hunting with the king when his thegns in Northumbria rebelled against his rule, which they claimed was oppressive, and killed some 200 of his followers. They nominated Morcar, the brother of Edwin of Mercia, as earl, and invited the brothers to join them in marching south. They met Harold at Northampton, and Tostig accused Harold before the king of conspiring with the rebels. Tostig seems to have been a favourite with the king and queen, who demanded that the revolt be suppressed, but neither Harold nor anyone else would fight to support Tostig. Edward was forced to submit to his banishment, and the humiliation may have caused a series of strokes which led to his death. He was too weak to attend the dedication of his new church at Westminster, which was then still incomplete, on 28 December.
Starting as early as William of Malmesbury in the early 12th century, historians have puzzled over Edward's intentions for the succession. One school of thought supports the Norman case that Edward always intended William the Conqueror to be his heir, accepting the medieval claim that Edward had already decided to be celibate before he married, but most historians believe that he hoped to have an heir by Edith at least until his quarrel with Godwin in 1051. William may have visited Edward during Godwin's exile, and he is thought to have promised William the succession at this time, but historians disagree how seriously he meant the promise, and whether he later changed his mind.[c]
Edmund Ironside's son, Edward Ætheling, had the best claim to be considered Edward's heir. He had been taken as a young child to Hungary, and in 1054 Bishop Ealdred of Worcester visited the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry III to secure his return, probably with a view to becoming Edward's heir. The exile returned to England in 1057 with his family, but died almost immediately. His son Edgar, who was then about five years old, was brought up at the English court. He was given the designation Ætheling, meaning throneworthy, which may mean that Edward considered making him his heir, and he was briefly declared king after Harold's death in 1066. However, Edgar was absent from witness lists of Edward's diplomas, and there is no evidence in the Domesday Book that he was a substantial landowner, which suggests that he was marginalised at the end of Edward's reign.
After the mid-1050s, Edward seems to have withdrawn from affairs as he became increasingly dependent on the Godwins, and may have become reconciled to the idea that one of them would succeed him. The Normans claimed that Edward sent Harold to Normandy in about 1064 to confirm the promise of the succession to William. The strongest evidence comes from a Norman apologist, William of Poitiers. According to his account, shortly before the Battle of Hastings, Harold sent William an envoy who admitted that Edward had promised the throne to William but argued that this was over-ridden by his deathbed promise to Harold. In reply, William did not dispute the deathbed promise, but argued that Edward's prior promise to him took precedence.
In Stephen Baxter's view, Edward's "handling of the succession issue was dangerously indecisive, and contributed to one of the greatest catastrophes to which the English have ever succumbed."
Edward's Norman sympathies are most clearly seen in the major building project of his reign, Westminster Abbey, the first Norman Romanesque church in England. This was commenced between 1042 and 1052 as a royal burial church, consecrated on 28 December 1065, completed after his death in about 1090, and demolished in 1245 to make way for Henry III's new building, which still stands. It was very similar to Jumièges Abbey, which was built at the same time. Robert of Jumièges must have been closely involved in both buildings, although it is not clear which is the original and which the copy.
Edward does not appear to have been interested in books and associated arts, but his abbey played a vital role in the development of English Romanesque architecture, showing that he was an innovating and generous patron of the church.
Saint Edward the Confessor
|King of England, Confessor|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Canonized||7 February 1161, Rome by Pope Alexander III|
|Major shrine||Westminster Abbey|
|Attributes||King crowned with nimbus, sceptre, martlet|
|Patronage||Difficult marriages; England (before 1347); English Royal Family; Kings|
Edward the Confessor was the first Anglo-Saxon and the only king of England to be canonised, but he was part of a tradition of (uncanonised) English royal saints, such as Eadburh of Winchester, a daughter of Edward the Elder, Edith of Wilton, a daughter of Edgar the Peaceful, and the boy-king Edward the Martyr. With his proneness to fits of rage and his love of hunting, Edward the Confessor is regarded by most historians as an unlikely saint, and his canonisation as political, although some argue that his cult started so early that it must have had something credible to build on.
Edward displayed a worldly attitude in his church appointments. When he appointed Robert of Jumièges as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1051, he chose the leading craftsman Spearhafoc to replace Robert as Bishop of London. Robert refused to consecrate him, saying that the pope had forbidden it, but Spearhafoc occupied the bishopric for several months with Edward's support. After the Godwins fled the country, Edward expelled Spearhafoc, who fled with a large store of gold and gems which he had been given to make Edward a crown. Stigand was the first archbishop of Canterbury not to be a monk in almost a hundred years, and he was said to have been excommunicated by several popes because he held Canterbury and Winchester in plurality. Several bishops sought consecration abroad because of the irregularity of Stigand's position. Edward usually preferred clerks to monks for the most important and richest bishoprics, and he probably accepted gifts from candidates for bishoprics and abbacies. However, his appointments were generally respectable. When Odda of Deerhurst died without heirs in 1056, Edward seized lands which Odda had granted to Pershore Abbey and gave them to his Westminster foundation; the historian Ann Williams observes that "the Confessor did not in the 11th century have the saintly reputation which he later enjoyed, largely through the efforts of the Westminster monks themselves".
After 1066 there was a subdued cult of Edward as a saint, possibly discouraged by the early Norman abbots of Westminster, which gradually increased in the early 12th century . Osbert of Clare, the prior of Westminster Abbey, then started to campaign for Edward's canonisation, aiming to increase the wealth and power of the Abbey. By 1138, he had converted the Vita Ædwardi, the life of Edward commissioned by his widow, into a conventional saint's life. He seized on an ambiguous passage which might have meant that their marriage was chaste, perhaps to give the idea that Edith's childlessness was not her fault, to claim that Edward had been celibate. In 1139 Osbert went to Rome to petition for Edward's canonisation with the support of King Stephen, but he lacked the full support of the English hierarchy and Stephen had quarrelled with the church, so Pope Innocent II postponed a decision, declaring that Osbert lacked sufficient testimonials of Edward's holiness.
In 1159 there was a disputed election to the papacy, and Henry II's support helped to secure recognition of Pope Alexander III. In 1160 a new abbot of Westminster, Laurence, seized the opportunity to renew Edward's claim. This time, it had the full support of the king and the English hierarchy, and a grateful pope issued the bull of canonisation on 7 February 1161, the result of a conjunction of the interests of Westminster Abbey, King Henry II and Pope Alexander III He was called 'Confessor' as the name for someone who was believed to have lived a saintly life but was not a martyr.
In the 1230s King Henry III became attached to the cult of Saint Edward, and he commissioned a new life by Matthew Paris. Henry also constructed a grand new tomb for Edward in a rebuilt Westminster Abbey in 1269. He named his eldest son after him.
Until about 1350, Edmund the Martyr, Gregory the Great and Edward the Confessor were regarded as English national saints, but Edward III preferred the more war-like figure of St George, and in 1348 he established the Order of the Garter with St George as its patron. It was located at Windsor Castle, and its chapel of St Edward the Confessor was re-dedicated to St George, who was acclaimed in 1351 as patron of the English race. Edward was never a popular saint, but he was important to the Norman dynasty, which claimed to be the successor of Edward as the last legitimate Anglo-Saxon king.
The shrine of Saint Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey remains where it was after the final translation of his body to a chapel east of the sanctuary on 13 October 1269 by Henry III. The day of his translation, 13 October (his first translation had also been on that date in 1163), is regarded as his feast day, and each October the Abbey holds a week of festivities and prayer in his honour. For some time the Abbey had claimed that it possessed a set of coronation regalia that Edward had left for use in all future coronations. Following Edward's canonisation, these were regarded as holy relics, and thereafter they were used at all English coronations from the 13th century until the destruction of the regalia by Oliver Cromwell in 1649.
13 October is an optional feast day for Edward the Confessor in the Catholic Church of England and Wales, and the Church of England's calendar of saints designates it as a Lesser Festival. Edward is regarded as a patron saint of difficult marriages.
The Vita Ædwardi Regis states "[H]e was a very proper figure of a man—of outstanding height, and distinguished by his milky white hair and beard, full face and rosy cheeks, thin white hands, and long translucent fingers; in all the rest of his body he was an unblemished royal person. Pleasant, but always dignified, he walked with eyes downcast, most graciously affable to one and all. If some cause aroused his temper, he seemed as terrible as a lion, but he never revealed his anger by railing.". This, as the historian Richard Mortimer notes, 'contains obvious elements of the ideal king, expressed in flattering terms – tall and distinguished, affable, dignified and just.'
Edward was allegedly not above accepting bribes. According to the Ramsey Liber Benefactorum, the monastery's abbot decided that it would be dangerous to publicly contest a claim brought by "a certain powerful man", but he claimed he was able to procure a favourable judgment by giving Edward twenty marks in gold and his wife five marks.
|Ancestry of Edward the Confessor|
Edward the ConfessorBorn: c. 1003 Died: 4 or 5 January 1066
| King of the English
The history of Anglo-Saxon London relates to the history of the city of London during the Anglo-Saxon period, during the 7th to 11th centuries.
Romano-British Londinium had been abandoned in the late 5th century, although the London Wall remained intact. There was an Anglo-Saxon settlement by the early 7th century, called Lundenwic, about one mile away from Londinium, to the north of the present Strand. Lundenwic came under direct Mercian control in about 670. After the death of Offa of Mercia in 796, it was disputed between Mercia and Wessex.
Viking invasions became frequent from the 830s, and a Viking army is believed to have camped in the old Roman walls during the winter of 871. Alfred the Great re-established English control of London in 886, and renewed its fortifications. The old Roman walls were repaired and the defensive ditch was re-cut, and the old Roman city became the main site of population. The city now became known as Lundenburg, marking the beginning of the history of the City of London. Sweyn Forkbeard attacked London unsuccessfully in 996 and 1013, but his son Cnut the Great finally gained control of London, and all of England, in 1016.
Edward the Confessor, the step-son of Cnut, became king in 1042. He built Westminster Abbey, the first large Romanesque church in England, consecrated in 1065, and the first Palace of Westminster. Edward's death led to a succession crisis, and ultimately the Norman invasion of England.Church of St Edward the Confessor, Romford
The Church of St Edward the Confessor (in full, the Parish Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Edward the Confessor) is a place of worship in Romford, Greater London (until 1965, Essex). It is an Anglican church and forms part of the Diocese of Chelmsford. The building dates from 1849–50 and replaced an earlier church which was demolished in the mid-19 century. There has been a religious building on the site since the end of the 14th century. The current church was completed to a Victorian Gothic design by the English architect John Johnson. It was designated as a Grade II* listed building by English Heritage in 1952.Cynesige
Cynesige (died 22 December 1060) was a medieval English Archbishop of York between 1051 and 1060. Prior to his appointment to York, he was a royal clerk and perhaps a monk at Peterborough. As archbishop, he built and adorned his cathedral as well as other churches, and was active in consecrating bishops. After his death in 1060, the bequests he had made to a monastery were confiscated by the queen.Eadsige
Eadsige (died 29 October 1050), was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1038 to 1050. He crowned Edward the Confessor as king of England in 1043.Ealdred (archbishop of York)
Ealdred (or Aldred; died 11 September 1069) was Abbot of Tavistock, Bishop of Worcester, and Archbishop of York in Anglo-Saxon England. He was related to a number of other ecclesiastics of the period. After becoming a monk at the monastery at Winchester, he was appointed Abbot of Tavistock Abbey in around 1027. In 1046 he was named to the Bishopric of Worcester. Ealdred, besides his episcopal duties, served Edward the Confessor, the King of England, as a diplomat and as a military leader. He worked to bring one of the king's relatives, Edward the Exile, back to England from Hungary to secure an heir for the childless king.
In 1058 he undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the first bishop from England to do so. As administrator of the Diocese of Hereford, he was involved in fighting against the Welsh, suffering two defeats at the hands of raiders before securing a settlement with Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, a Welsh ruler.
In 1060, Ealdred was elected to the archbishopric of York, but had difficulty in obtaining papal approval for his appointment, only managing to do so when he promised not to hold the bishoprics of York and Worcester simultaneously. He helped secure the election of Wulfstan as his successor at Worcester. During his archiepiscopate, he built and embellished churches in his diocese, and worked to improve his clergy by holding a synod which published regulations for the priesthood.
Some sources state that following King Edward the Confessor's death in 1066, it was Ealdred who crowned Harold Godwinson as King of England. Ealdred supported Harold as king, but when Harold was defeated at the Battle of Hastings, Ealdred backed Edgar the Ætheling and then endorsed King William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy and a distant relative of King Edward's. Ealdred crowned King William on Christmas Day in 1066. William never quite trusted Ealdred or the other English leaders, and Ealdred had to accompany William back to Normandy in 1067, but he had returned to York by the time of his death in 1069. Ealdred supported the churches and monasteries in his diocese with gifts and building projects.Edith of Wessex
Edith of Wessex (c. 1025 – 18 December 1075) was a Queen of England. Her husband was Edward the Confessor, whom she married on 23 January 1045. Unlike most English queens in the 10th and 11th centuries, she was crowned. The principal source on her life is a work she herself commissioned, the Vita Ædwardi Regis or the Life of King Edward who rests at Westminster, which is inevitably biased.Gisa (bishop of Wells)
Gisa (also written Giso; died 1088) was Bishop of Wells from 1060 to 1088. A native of Lorraine, Gisa came to England as a chaplain to King Edward the Confessor. After his appointment to Wells, he travelled to Rome rather than be consecrated by Stigand, the Archbishop of Canterbury. As bishop, Gisa added buildings to his cathedral, introduced new saints to his diocese, and instituted the office of archdeacon in his diocese. After the Norman Conquest, Gisa took part in the consecration of Lanfranc, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, and attended Lanfranc's church councils. His tomb in Wells Cathedral was opened in the 20th century and a cross was discovered in his tomb.Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson (c. 1022 – 14 October 1066), often called Harold II, was the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England. Harold reigned from 6 January 1066 until his death at the Battle of Hastings, fighting the Norman invaders led by William the Conqueror during the Norman conquest of England. His death marked the end of Anglo-Saxon rule over England.
Harold was a powerful earl and member of a prominent Anglo-Saxon family with ties to Cnut the Great. Upon the death of his brother-in-law King Edward the Confessor on 5 January 1066, the Witenagemot convened and chose Harold to succeed; he was crowned in Westminster Abbey. In late September, he successfully repelled an invasion by rival claimant Harald Hardrada of Norway before marching his army back south to meet William the Conqueror at Hastings two weeks later.Heca
Hecca (or Heca) was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Selsey. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Hecca was chaplain to Edward the Confessor and became bishop when Grimketel died in 1047. He was an Englishman, and a royal clerk. He died in 1057.House of Godwin
The House of Godwin was an Anglo-Saxon (in later generations Anglo-Danish or Anglo-Norse) family, one of the leading noble families in England during the last 50 years before the Norman Conquest. Its most famous member was Harold Godwinson, king of England for nine months in 1066.
The founder of the family's greatness, Earl Godwin, was raised from comparative obscurity by king Cnut and given the earldom of Wessex around the year 1020. He retained his position during the reigns of Cnut's sons Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut, and consolidated it when king Edward the Confessor conferred earldoms on Sweyn and Harold, Godwin's two eldest sons by his Danish wife, Gytha. The family survived a short-lived attempt by the king to exile them. After Godwin's death his sons held the earldoms of Wessex, East Anglia, and later Northumbria; Harold in particular became the most powerful man in England, eclipsing the power of the king. When Edward the Confessor died childless in 1066 he was succeeded by Harold Godwinson. Harold gained a great victory over the Norwegian invader Harald Hardrada and his own estranged brother Tostig Godwinson at the battle of Stamford Bridge. Three weeks later, with his defeat and death at the battle of Hastings, Anglo-Saxon self-rule came to an end. Later generations of the family were scattered around northern Europe, one branch prospering in Norway and furnishing that country with one of its kings, Inge II, and a pretender to the throne, Skule Bårdsson. Through female lines the Godwin family are ancestors of most of the royal houses of modern Europe.Játvarðar Saga
The Játvarðar Saga (in full Saga Játvarðar konungs hins helga), is an Icelandic saga about the life of Edward the Confessor, King of England (1042–1066). It was compiled in the 14th century, in Iceland, using a number of earlier English sources as well as the French Chronicon Universale Anonymi Laudunensis (or a source common with it). It was translated into English in 1894 by G. W. Dasent. Among the various details contained in the saga, there is an account of the origin of an English colony in the Black Sea founded by one "Siward earl of Gloucester" (Sigurðr jarl af Glocestr), a refugee of the Norman Conquest of England.Leges Edwardi Confessoris
The title Leges Edwardi Confessoris, or Laws of Edward the Confessor, refers to an English collection of 39 laws, purporting to date back to the time of Edward the Confessor (reigned 1042–1066), but did not appear in written form until the reign of King Stephen in the 12th century.Leofgar of Hereford
Leofgar (or Leovegard; died 1056) was a medieval Bishop of Hereford.
Leofgar was consecrated in March 1056. He had previously been the chaplain to Harold Godwineson, and it was probably Harold who persuaded King Edward the Confessor to appoint him to the bishopric. The appointment was disapproved of by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, mainly for the warlike character of Leofgar. However, because of the Welsh raids, and the damage the diocese had taken in the previous year, it was felt that a more martial man was needed to help protect the area. Significantly, while a bishop he retained his mustache, a symbol of a warrior.Leofgar was killed by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn on 16 June 1056 at Glasbury-on-Wye during a battle with the Welsh. Along with Leofgar, a large number of English were killed, which set back the English efforts to pacify the Welsh frontier. After Leofgar's death, the diocese of Hereford was administered by Ealdred, who was Bishop of Worcester, until Walter of Lorraine was elected in 1060.Leofric (bishop)
Leofric (before 1016–1072) was a medieval Bishop of Exeter. Probably a native of Cornwall, he was educated on the continent. At the time Edward the Confessor was in exile before his succession to the English throne, Leofric joined his service and returned to England with him. After he became king, Edward rewarded Leofric with lands. Although a 12th-century source claims Leofric held the office of chancellor, modern historians agree he never did so.
Edward appointed Leofric as Bishop of Cornwall and Bishop of Crediton in 1046, but because Crediton was a small town, the new bishop secured papal permission to move the episcopal seat to Exeter in 1050. At Exeter, Leofric worked to increase the income and resources of his cathedral, both in lands and in ecclesiastical vestments. He was a bibliophile, and collected many manuscripts; some of these he gave to the cathedral library, including a famous manuscript of poetry, the Exeter Book. Leofric died in 1072; although his remains were moved to the new Exeter Cathedral which was built after his death, their location is no longer known and the current tomb does not mark his resting place.Martlet
A martlet in English heraldry is a heraldic charge depicting a stylised bird similar to a swift or a house martin, with stylised feet. It should be distinguished from the merlette of French heraldry, which is a duck-like bird with a swan-neck and chopped-off beak and legs.Robert of Jumièges
Robert of Jumièges (died between 1052 and 1055) was the first Norman Archbishop of Canterbury. He had previously served as prior of the Abbey of St Ouen at Rouen in Normandy, before becoming abbot of Jumièges Abbey, near Rouen, in 1037. He was a good friend and adviser to the king of England, Edward the Confessor, who appointed him Bishop of London in 1044, and then archbishop in 1051. Robert's time as archbishop lasted only about eighteen months. He had already come into conflict with the powerful Godwin, Earl of Wessex, and while archbishop made attempts to recover lands lost to Godwin and his family. He also refused to consecrate Spearhafoc, Edward's choice to succeed Robert as Bishop of London. The rift between Robert and Godwin culminated in Robert's deposition and exile in 1052.
A Norman medieval chronicler claimed that Robert travelled to Normandy in 1051 or 1052 and told Duke William of Normandy, the future William the Conqueror, that Edward wished for him to become his heir. The exact timing of Robert's trip, and whether he actually made it, have been the subject of debate among historians. The archbishop died in exile at Jumièges sometime between 1052 and 1055. Robert commissioned significant building work at Jumièges and was probably involved in the first Romanesque building in England, the church built in Westminster for Edward the Confessor, now known as Westminster Abbey. Robert's treatment by the English was used by William the Conqueror as one of the justifications for his invasion of England.Wessex
Wessex (; Old English: Westseaxna rīce [westsæɑksnɑ riːt͡ʃe], the "kingdom of the West Saxons") was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Great Britain, from 519 until England was unified by Æthelstan in the early 10th century.
The Anglo-Saxons believed that Wessex was founded by Cerdic and Cynric, but this may be a legend. The two main sources for the history of Wessex are the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the West Saxon Genealogical Regnal List, which sometimes conflict. Wessex became a Christian kingdom after Cenwalh was baptised and was expanded under his rule. Cædwalla later conquered Sussex, Kent and the Isle of Wight. His successor, Ine, issued one of the oldest surviving English law codes and established a second West Saxon bishopric. The throne subsequently passed to a series of kings with unknown genealogies.
During the 8th century, as the hegemony of Mercia grew, Wessex largely retained its independence. It was during this period that the system of shires was established. Under Egbert, Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Essex, and Mercia, along with parts of Dumnonia, were conquered. He also obtained the overlordship of the Northumbrian king. However, Mercian independence was restored in 830. During the reign of his successor, Æthelwulf, a Danish army arrived in the Thames estuary, but was decisively defeated. When Æthelwulf's son, Æthelbald, usurped the throne, the kingdom was divided to avoid war. Æthelwulf was succeeded in turn by his four sons, the youngest being Alfred the Great.
Wessex was invaded by the Danes in 871, and Alfred was compelled to pay them to leave. They returned in 876, but were forced to withdraw. In 878 they forced Alfred to flee to the Somerset Levels, but were eventually defeated at the Battle of Edington. During his reign Alfred issued a new law code, gathered scholars to his court and was able to devote funds to building ships, organising an army and establishing a system of burhs. Alfred's son, Edward, captured the eastern Midlands and East Anglia from the Danes and became ruler of Mercia in 918 upon the death of his sister, Æthelflæd. Edward's son, Æthelstan, conquered Northumbria in 927, and England became a unified kingdom for the first time. Cnut the Great, who conquered England in 1016, created the wealthy and powerful earldom of Wessex, but in 1066 Harold Godwinson reunited the earldom with the crown and Wessex ceased to exist.West Suffolk (county)
West Suffolk was an administrative county of England created in 1889 from part of the county of Suffolk. It survived until 1974 when it was rejoined with East Suffolk. Its county town was Bury St Edmunds.
Before the introduction of county councils, Suffolk had been divided into eastern and western divisions, each with their own quarter sessions. The western division corresponded to the Liberty of Saint Edmund. This area had been established by Edward the Confessor in 1044 and was a separate jurisdiction under the control of the abbot of Bury St Edmunds Abbey until the dissolution of the monasteries.
This history was reflected in the coat of arms of the county council. The council initially adopted the attributed arms of Edward the Confessor: a cross patonce between five martlets. When the council received an official grant of arms from the College of Arms in 1959, abbots' mitres and the emblem of St Edmund: crossed arrows through an open crown were added. The motto adopted was For King, Law and People, referring to the association of Magna Carta with Bury.
Shortly before its abolition the West Suffolk County Council commissioned Elizabeth Frink to sculpt a statue of St Edmund to commemorate the end of 970 years of independent administration of the area. The statue, in the grounds of the abbey of Bury St Edmunds, was completed in 1976.Ælfric Puttoc
Ælfric Puttoc (died 22 January 1051) was a medieval Archbishop of York and Bishop of Worcester.