Norman Conquest Encyclopedia
Edward the Confessor
England in the early 11th century was a land with a mixed population — Celtic people, Danes and Anglo-Saxons. There was also Norman influence, for Emma, wife of King Ethelred the Unready, was the sister of Duke Richard II of Normandy and aunt of Robert the Magnificent whose son was William the Bastard. Ethelred was succeeded by Cnut (or Canute) and then by the Dane's son Harold I, known as Harefoot, and he by his half brother. But on the death of the third Dane, Harthacanute in 1042, the line ceased and the Saxons inherited in the person of Ethelred's and Emma's son, Edward. Anglo-Saxon power was in the hands of Godwin, Earl of Wessex and his sons and it was to Godwin's daughter, Edith, that Edward was married. The king showed small enthusiasm for matrimony and is said to have refrained from consummating the marriage, preferring to see to the welfare of the church and the building of Westminster Abbey. Further, having been brought up in his uncle's court in Normandy, he lacked sympathy with his Saxon earls. The succession was, at the end of Edward the Confessor's life, unclear. Childless, he was said by the Normans to have promised his throne to his cousin William, but he had also brought up his half-brother's grandson, Edgar Atheling and declared him his heir. Practical power was wielded by Harold Godwinsson, now the Earl of Wessex and it was this last who was chosen by the witan on Edward's death.
- Hastings 1066 (Revised Edition) - The Fall of Saxon England
(Campaign 13 )