A-Z People of the Dark Ages: Edward the Confessor

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Sometimes nice people really mess things up. The simple act of being inoffensive can cause so much irreversible  damage that it would be better if they had avoided diplomacy in favour of a whole load of aggro. Much better in the long run.

One such man was King Edward III. He was such a nice guy that his nickname was ‘The Confessor’, as in a priest who takes confession. A softly spoken, pious man, everyone loved Edward. He spent almost twenty-five years in exile in France as his father, King Ethelred the Unready, was faced with Viking attacks in England. After the rule of several Danish kings, the people of London really wanted Edward and cheered on his return. He became king of England in 1042

Being a nice man, Edward’s life was not full of extravagance and this resulted in low taxes for the ordinary people of England. The country benefitted from improved agricultural technology and a new prosperity. He had no military experience and therefore was not a warmonger. So far, so good.

However, Edward’s upbringing in Normandy did not please everyone. Some people believed that he showed favouritism to Norman nobles. He probably did. Earl Godwin of Wessex gathered an army made up of Mercian and Northumbrian nobles. Edward banished him from the country.

But then, being that nice man, he tried to build fences with Godwin’s son, Harold. Harold became Edward’s military leader. Chances are, given the lack of natural-born heirs, Edward promised Harold the crown on his death. Only, he promised it to the WIlliam, Duke of Normandy, too.

We are not really sure who Edward promised the crown to, but personally I think he named both men. Nice people like to make other people happy. They don’t want to offend anyone. Ironically, England was to change forever because there was no clear heir and battles broke out in Stamford Bridge (the Viking Danes thought they had a right to the English throne too) and at the Battle of Hastings. 14 October 1066. The most famous of English dates.

After the Duke of Normandy defeated Harold (see my post about Harold next week) the culture, language, government and just about everything else changed, including hunting and the role of women.

See what being nice and inoffensive does.

 See the rest of my A-Z entries at http://www.ajsefton.com

 Edward the Confessor. Feast day is 13 October.

© 2016 A.J. Sefton http://www.ajsefton.com

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