Edward the Confessor (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Edward served as the focus of a series of events that culminated in one of the most significant episodes in English history, the Norman Conquest of England.
Edward’s succession to the English throne involved an interesting intertwining of persons and politics. Edward was the son of Ethelred the Unready, King of Anglo-Saxon England from 979 to 1016, and his second wife, Emma, descended from the Norman aristocracy. Ethelred, beset by personal, political, and military difficulties, lost England to invading Danes. The Anglo-Saxon throne fell into the hands of Canute, who attempted to forestall the claims of Ethelred’s son to the throne by marrying the late king’s widow; the marriage produced a son, Harthacnut, who preceded Edward to the throne and ruled England from 1040 to 1042. Emma, queen to two kings and queen mother to another, had personally and politically gravitated toward the northern Scandinavian political orbit. She had favored Edward’s younger half brother over her firstborn son; even after Edward had become king, she intrigued with another Scandinavian king (Magnus of Norway) to invade England.
Emma’s political machinations, however, were thwarted by the Anglo-Danish aristocracy that had been developing in England since the time of Canute’s ascendancy to the throne. It favored the ancient native dynasty. That aristocracy used the Anglo-Saxon national...
(The entire section is 2110 words.)
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