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Edward the Confessor

Edward the Confessor: The Man and the Legend

Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Edward the Confessor
    Book Description:

    The millennium of Edward the Confessor's birth presents an appropriate occasion for a full-scale, up-to-date reassessment of his life, reign and cult, a reappraisal which is provided in the essays here. After an introduction to the many views of Edward's life, and a reinterpretation of the development of his cult, the volume considers his childhood in England and its influence upon his later life; the time he spent in Normandy and the relationships that developed there; and his later life, including an examination of the role played by Edith, his queen. There is also a particular focus upon Westminster Abbey, and the major new discoveries which have recently been made there. Incorporating both broad surveys and the fruits of detailed new work, this book is essential reading for all those interested in late Saxon and Norman England. CONTRIBUTORS: RICHARD MORTIMER, SIMON KEYNES, ELISABETH VAN HOUTS, STEPHEN BAXTER, PAULINE STAFFORD, ERIC FERNIE, WARWICK RODWELL, RICHARD GEM, EDINA BOZOKY

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-716-5
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. List of maps
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-xi)
  7. Genealogical table
    (pp. xii-xii)
  8. 1 Edward the Confessor: the Man and the Legend
    (pp. 1-40)
    Richard Mortimer

    It is both Edward the Confessor’s posthumous fortune and misfortune that his reign led into the Norman Conquest. The rights and wrongs of 1066 and the associated propaganda have cast their shadow over everything written about him since, making it a difficult and delicate matter to disinter the historical Edward, and leading to contrasting views among modern historians of the period. The process of turning Edward into England’s premier royal saint and Westminster Abbey’s principal relic, on the other hand, responded to the needs of the Anglo-Norman world in which that process developed. Edward the man will be especially hard...

  9. 2 Edward the Ætheling (c. 1005–16)
    (pp. 41-62)
    Simon Keynes

    Edward the Confessor, patron saint of the English monarchy in the later Middle Ages, and certified national treasure, was the son of King Æthelred the Unready, personification of national degeneracy throughout the Middle Ages, and certified natural disaster. In each case, the challenge which faces the modern historian is to separate the man from the legend, to establish his place in the appropriate historical contexts, and thereby to bring him into sharper focus. In the case of Edward, it is especially important to dwell on the position in which he might have found himself during his boyhood, and to ponder...

  10. 3 Edward and Normandy
    (pp. 63-76)
    Elisabeth van Houts

    Little is known about Edward’s long exile in Normandy between the years 1016 and 1040. We might think we know all there can be known about this obscure period in his life. Yet it is worth surveying the scant evidence again in the light of recent research, in particular: the analysis of the four Norman charters featuring Edward in this period, the recent book on the formation of early Normandy, the study of Norman abbots and that on eleventh-century English queens.¹ Three points will be made. First I will draw attention to the importance of Godgifu (d.c. 1056), Edward’s...

  11. 4 Edward the Confessor and the Succession Question
    (pp. 77-118)
    Stephen Baxter

    This paper confronts the implications of a question which preoccupied King Edward and the nobility of England and her neighbours throughout his reign: who would succeed Edward? Lying behind this question is another, more difficult one: whom did Edward favour as his successor? William of Malmesbury became one of the first historians to approach this problem when he wrote hisGesta Regum Anglorumin the 1120s, and he found the evidence so problematic he felt compelled to alert his audience to the difficulties it posed. Before describing one of the decisive episodes of the reign (the crisis of 1051–2),...

  12. 5 Edith, Edward’s Wife and Queen
    (pp. 119-138)
    Pauline Stafford

    On 23 January 1045 King Edward married Edith, daughter of Earl Godwine. That marriage and that woman are the subjects of this paper. Edith’s biography could be told very briefly. She was the daughter of Earl Godwine of Wessex and his Danish wife, Gytha; she was educated, or raised, at the nunnery of Wilton; she married Edward in 1045. Specific events, especially datable events, in her career are few. They include her marriage in 1045; her expulsion from court in 1051 and return in 1052; possibly some involvement in the events of 1066, after the death of her husband; and...

  13. 6 Edward the Confessor’s Westminster Abbey
    (pp. 139-150)
    Eric Fernie

    The church begun by Edward the Confessor at Westminster Abbey between 1042 and 1052 has a good claim to being the most important building project of his reign. Politically it was a clear statement of his links with Normandy and intentions at home, and architecturally it indicates both the importance of Normandy and the extent to which a structure in England could differ from its sources in the duchy.

    According to the contemporaryVita Edwardi, Edward the Confessor began the rebuilding of St Peter’s abbey at Westminster principally in order to provide himself with a royal burial church. It is...

  14. 7 New Glimpses of Edward the Confessor’s Abbey at Westminster
    (pp. 151-167)
    Warwick Rodwell

    Since the middle of the nineteenth century, scholars have attempted to reconstruct the plan and physical form of the abbey church and cloister built by Edward the Confessor, using the famous representation seen in the Bayeux Tapestry and scraps of archaeological evidence. Not surprisingly, several different interpretations have been offered. The first serious discussion was by Sir Gilbert Scott in a paper read in 1860, when the only fabric known to date from the eleventh century was the lower storey of the east cloister range and one surviving wall of the refectory, in the south range.¹ A breakthrough occurred in...

  15. 8 Craftsmen and Administrators in the Building of the Confessor’s Abbey
    (pp. 168-172)
    Richard Gem

    During the course of a detailed evaluation of the roles played by different categories of persons involved in major building projects during the eleventh century, it has become clear that the views previously put forward by the author regarding the craftsmen of the Confessor’s abbey are in need of some modification.¹

    From a range of contemporary sources, it is possible to establish that major building projects in this period required interaction between persons involved in four key areas of responsibility: patronage, administrative oversight, the supply of materials, and skilled craftsmanship together with general labour. The role of the patron included...

  16. 9 The Sanctity and Canonisation of Edward the Confessor
    (pp. 173-186)
    Edina Bozoky

    The historical circumstances of Edward’s canonisation have been analysed in a detailed article by Bernhard W. Scholz,¹ and were also presented in Frank Barlow’s biography of the Confessor.² The promulgation of Edward’s sanctity was the result of a convergence of three interests: those of Westminster Abbey, of King Henry II and of Pope Alexander III. The different motives and arguments which stimulated this canonisation can be found in both the hagiographical discourse and the political constellation of the kingdom and the papacy.

    In this paper I shall attempt to stress both the specifics and the novelties of this canonisation, which,...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-194)
  18. Index
    (pp. 195-204)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 205-205)