m. 5 Apr 1002
Facts and Events
Edward the Confessor (between 1003 and 1005 – 4 or 5 January 1066), son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and is usually regarded as the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from 1042 to 1066.
Edward has traditionally been seen as unworldly and pious, and his reign is notable for the disintegration of royal power in England and the advance in power of the Godwin family. His biographers, Frank Barlow and Peter Rex, dispute this, picturing him as a successful king, who was energetic, resourceful and sometimes ruthless, but whose reputation has been unfairly tarnished by the Norman conquest shortly after his death. Other historians regard this positive picture as only partly true, and not at all in the later part of his reign. In the view of Richard Mortimer, the return of the Godwins from exile in 1052 "meant the effective end of his exercise of power". The difference in his level of activity from the earlier part of his reign "implies a withdrawal from affairs".
Edward succeeded Cnut the Great's son Harthacnut, restoring the rule of the House of Wessex after the period of Danish rule since Cnut 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.
Edward is called Confessor, the name for someone believed to have lived a saintly life but who was not a martyr, in Latin , as opposed to . He was canonised in 1161 by Pope Alexander III, and is commemorated on 13 October by both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. Saint Edward was one of the national saints of England until King Edward III adopted Saint George as patron saint in about 1350.