Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Edward the Confessor (c. 1003–1066) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

King of England from 1042, the son of Ethelred II. He lived in Normandy until shortly before his accession. During his reign power was held by Earl Godwin and his son Harold, while the king devoted himself to religion, including the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey (consecrated in 1065), where he is buried. His childlessness left four claimants to the English throne on his death and led ultimately to the Norman Conquest in 1066. He was canonized in 1161.


St Edward the Confessor


Wilton Diptych

Summary Article: Edward the Confessor
From The Columbia Encyclopedia

d. 1066, king of the English (1042–66), son of Æthelred the Unready and his Norman wife, Emma. After the Danish conquest (1013–16) of England, Edward grew up at the Norman court, although his mother returned to England and married the Danish king Canute. In 1041, Edward was brought to England by his half-brother Harthacanute, whom he succeeded as king in 1042. Edward was an able but not very energetic ruler, and he was unable to assert his authority over the great earls of the kingdom. Most powerful of these was Godwin, whose daughter Edith married (1045) the king. Edward's natural inclination to favor the Normans in England—notably Robert of Jumièges, whom he made archbishop of Canterbury in 1051—led to a breach with Godwin. In 1051, after a fracas between the king's brother-in-law, Eustace II, count of Boulogne, and the citizens of Dover, Godwin refused to obey Edward's order to punish the men of Dover and tried to raise a revolt. Edward, however, was supported by Leofric of Mercia and Siward of Northumbria, and he outlawed and banished Godwin and his family. In their absence Edward received William, duke of Normandy (later William I), and apparently made him his heir. In 1052, Godwin and his sons returned and demonstrated their power by forcing Edward to accept Stigand as archbishop of Canterbury instead of Robert. Thenceforth the king took less interest in his realm, becoming absorbed in his religion and in supervising the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey. Shortly before his death, Edward named Harold, son of Godwin, as his successor, possibly in the hope of averting the threat of war posed by the rival claims to the throne of William of Normandy and Harold III of Norway. Edward's piety was responsible for his name the Confessor. He was canonized in the 12th cent. Feast: Oct. 13.

  • See biography by F. Barlow (1970).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article Edward “the Confessor” 1005-1066
Reader's Guide to British History

King of England, and saint Barlow Frank , Edward the Confessor , London : Eyre and Spottiswoode , and Berkeley : University...

Full text Article Edward the Confessor (?1001 - 1066) King (1042)
The Companion to British History, Routledge

Son of Ethelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy 1. Spent his years from eleven, when K. Swein, K. Canute's father, invaded...

Full text Article Edward the Confessor, Saint
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

(born c. 1003, Islip, Eng.—died Jan. 5, 1066, London; canonized 1161; feast day originally January 5, now October 13) King of England (1042–66). Th

See more from Credo