Edward The Confessor

Edward The Confessor was the last King of England from the House of Wessex. He ruled England for 24 years during the middle of 12th century.

Edward The Confessor

He received his nickname “The Confessor” 100 years after his death after being canonized by Pope Alexander III. He remained the Patron Saint of England until 1350 C.E. when Saint George was made Patron Saint of England by King Edward III.

Early years

Edward The Confessor was born in Oxfordshire, England in 1003 C.E. His father was Ethlred who was King of England. His mom was Emma of Normandy who was King Ethlred’s second wife. After his mother married Canute the Great in 1017 C.E. he became the stepson of Canute the Great.

During his early childhood years, England was constantly under attack from Danish. The Danes were ruled by Canute and his father Sweyn Forkbeard. When he was ten years old the Danes successfully marched through England. His family fled England and took up residence in Normandy.

Sweyn Forkbeard

They returned to England in 1014 C.E. after the death of Sweyn Forkbeard. His father would rule England for a short time period. When Ethelred passed away in 1016 C.E. Edward The Confessor’s brother Edmund assumed the crown of England.

During the same year Canute the Great re-invaded England. King Edmund resisted along with Edward The Confessor but Canute the Great was appointed the King of England. After Edmund’s death, Edward The Confessor went into exile in Normandy for the next 25 years.

Becoming King of England

Even though his mother had married Canute the Great, Edward The Confessor was not invited back to England until 1041 C.E. when his half-brother Harthacanute was King of England. When Hartacanute died in 1042 C.E., Edward The Confessor assumed the role of King of England.

His Legacy

At first Edward The Confessor had problems with his three Earls while as King of England. Two of them favored the Danes and the other the House of Wessex. He immediately removed his mother’s titles blaming her for a poor childhood.

In 1050 C.E. Edward The Confessor marched on Wales and Scotland increasing his territories. He noticed during the invasion that Earl Godwin had become more powerful and hostile. In 1051 C.E. he exiled Earl Godwin and his family to Flanders.

Edward The Confessor had become friendly with his Norman advisors and this did not sit well with Earl Godwin. In 1052 C.E. Earl Godwin and his two sons, Harold and Tostig, marched on Edward The Confessor.

Unfortunately for him he could not put an army together and was forced to remove his Norman advisors. He was also forced to return all lands back to Earl Godwin. These actions made Edward The Confessor dependent on Earl Godwin for the remainder of his reign.

Edward The Confessor spent the remainder of his reign building Westminster Abbey in London until his death in 1066 C.E.

Problems with succession

There were several problems of succession upon the death of Edward The Confessor. Historians suggest that he actually offered his crown to four different people including William the Conqueror and Harold Godwinson, the son of Earl Godwin.

At first Harold succeeded him a King of England. Then King Harold was killed by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. In the end William the Conqueror became King of England.

Important facts about Edward The Confessor

  • Edward The Confessor was born in 1003 C.E. to King Ethelred of England.
  • His mother would later marry Canute the Great after Ethelred’s death.
  • Edward The Confessor was sent into exile in Normandy by Canute the Great for 25 years.
  • Upon his return to England in 1041 C.E. he became King of England after the death of his half-brother Harthacanute.
  • At this time he stripped his mother of all her titles and authority.
  • He increased his holdings in Scotland and Wales in 1050 C.E.
  • Edward The Confessor spent most of his reign building Westminster Abbey.
  • He was the last King of England from the House of Wessex.


  1. Who was Edward The Confessor’s father?

King Ethelred of England

  1. Who did his mother marry after the death of King Ethelred?

Canute the Great

  1. Who did Edward The Confessor have problems with while he was King of England?

Earl Godwin

  1. What historic building did he spend time trying to complete during his reign as King of England?

The Westminster Abbey