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3 August 2003




EDWARD the Confessor

Feast Day 13 October

Edward was born in 1003, son of King Ethelred II and Queen Emma. When Ethelred was unseated by Danish invasion. Edward and his brother were sent to Denmark to be quietly killed, but the officer in charge took pity on the boys, and sent them to Sweden, and from there they went to the King of Hungary to be raised and educated. The brothers then moved to Normandy staying with Queen Emma's family, and waited their chance to return to England.
After the death of Ethelred, the Witan (Anglo-Saxon assembly of noblemen and bishops) chose Canute, the son of the Danish King Swein, to be king, over riding the claim of  Edmund Ironside. Edmund and Canute fought a number of battles, resulting in Edmund's defeat, and Canute became king of all England. Seven years of fighting followed Canute's death to establish who should be king. The Witan appointed Edward and he ascended to the throne of his father on 3 April, Easter, 1042.

Edward gained a reputation as just and worthy of the kingship, and the people of England gave him their support, although the English Earls were unhappy at Edward's preference for Norman advisors, even though there were probably more English at court than Normans.

During his reign England became the strongest kingdom in Europe. Edward repulsed invasion, helped restore the King of Scotland to his throne, remitted unjust taxes. and was noted for his generosity to the poor and strangers, and for his piety and love of God. He married to satisfy his people, but he and his Queen, Edith, remained celibate. His childlessness made the succession to the throne uncertain.
Edward had exiled his father in law, Godwin , after he and others had plotted against him. He was forced to receive Godwin back in 1052, but not until after William Duke of Normandy had visited England. It is believed that Edward promised the throne of England to William on his death. After Godwin's return, Edward seemed to lose interest in the politics of court and government and devoted himself more and more to religion.
Edward had a humility and asceticism rare in a ruler of his time and his piety impressed his subjects. He was reported to have the power to heal by touch.
Edward spent large sums of money on the building of   Westminster Abbey. dedicated to the glory of God, St. Peter and all God's Saints. The Abbey was consecrated on the feast of the Holy Innocents, 28 December 1065. Edward died just a few days later, on the eve of the feast of the Epiphany, 5 January 1066. He was buried in the newly consecrated Abbey on 6 January 1066. He was canonised with the title of "Confessor" by Pope Alexander 111 in 1161. During the Middle Ages, the Abbey became a place of pilgrimage for those seeking the grace of St. Edward.
Adapted from "A Time of Jubilee - St. Edward's Lees 1872-1997"