Edward the Confessor
Real World Background
Edward the Confessor was the son of Ethelred the Unready (978-1016) and Emma of Normandy, the daughter of Duke Richard of Normandy. In 1016, after his father was overthrown by Canute of Denmark (who then ruled England from 1016 to 1035), Edward fled to his mother's homeland of Normandy, and remained there until the death of Canute's son Harthacanute in 1042. After Harthacanute's death, Edward returned to England and became King. Edward was dominated by the powerful Earl Godwin of Wessex (whose daughter Edith he married) and his sons during the early part of his reign; he banished them temporarily in 1051, but they returned to favor soon afterwards. Thanks to his youth in Normandy, Edward preferred the Normans over the English, and had many Norman favorites at his court; he also promised the throne of England after his death to his cousin, Duke William of Normandy.
Edward offered refuge at his court to the young Canmore (maybe remembering his own exile in Normandy and identifying with Canmore's plight thereby), and helped him in his war against Macbeth in 1054-57 (though the more immediate help came from Canmore's kinsman, Earl Siward of Northumbria). William Shakespeare mentions Edward in his play Macbeth, but keeps him off-stage.
An extremely pious king, Edward the Confessor had Westminster Abbey built; it was consecrated a few days before his death on January 5, 1066. Since he had never had children, the Witan (the royal council of England) bestowed the crown upon Harold Godwinson, Earl Godwin's oldest surviving son and Edward's brother-in-law; Duke William, angered at this act, invaded England, defeated and slew Harold at the Battle of Hastings, and became King of England as William the Conqueror. Edward was canonized in 1161.
- Edward the Confessor at Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia