Edward the Confessor Crowned
Edward the Confessor became King of England upon the death of his half-brother Hardicanute . They shared a mother, Emma of Normandy; but sadly the genetics of their fathers would prove more significant: Hardicanute’s was the great Canute , King of England, Norway and Denmark, and sometime ruler of Sweden; Edward’s father was the vacillating Ethelred the Unready .
On April 3 1043 Edward was crowned at Winchester Cathedral . Thanks to the energy and ruthlessness of Canute he had no true rivals, though Magnus of Norway had a very slim claim to the throne of England that would be revived by Harald Hardraada in 1066. Neither Danes nor Saxons had an interest in supporting the Norwegian, so Edward inherited a secure country used to strong government from its recent monarchs: Canute had probably killed Edmund Ironside ; his successor Harold Harefoot blinded Edmund’s brother Alfred to render him powerless; and the short reign of Hardicanute saw him react to the killing of two of his tax-collectors in Worcester by burning the city.
Edward wasted this political capital. During his exile in Normandy he had been free to hunt and wile away his time. He had little vigour, and used most of that and much of his wealth in building Westminster Abbey . And he failed to produce an heir – the legend which began at the end of his reign put this down to piety and an oath of chastity, but it was probably just fate. His reign, with many Normans chosen as counsellors and senior clerics, facilitated William the Conqueror ’s eventual grab for the English throne.
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