First True King of England Crowned
It is customary to regard Egbert who ruled Wessex a century and a half before Edgar lived as the first King of England, but that is because of his resistance to invasion by the Norsemen rather than rule over all the country. Edgar consolidated the advances of previous monarchs, and legend has it that he secured the support and even the obedience of other regional magnates who demonstrated their subservience by rowing him from his palace at Chester to a nearby church.
His coronation in 973 set the mould for such events in the future, though it was not to mark his accession to the throne (which happened in 959), but to demonstrate his power, authority from God, and what his rule meant. It took place at Bath Abbey , the ceremony organised by St Dunstan, and presided over by the latter and St Oswald, respectively Archbishops of Canterbury and York . The singing of an antiphon accompanied Edgar’s arrival; a Te Deum the prostration of the King before the altar; and another antiphon, Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet the conclusion. That last piece is a link with modern coronations, as is the swearing of an oath by Edgar and the anointing of the monarch.
The venue for future coronations may have changed to Winchester Cathedral and Westminster Abbey ; but Edgar’s at Bath contained elements still present in the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, a continuity remarkable nearly after a millennium.
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