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On October 13 we remember Edward, a king of England who died in 1066, and was called “the Confessor” because of his religious devotion and many pious works.

He spent much of his early life in exile with his mother in France because a Danish invader had killed his father and older brother and usurped the Anglo-Saxon throne.  In 1042, Edward 'the Confessor' became King. As the surviving son of Ethelred and his second wife, Emma, he was a half-brother of Hardicanute, through their mother. With few rivals (Canute's line was extinct and Edward's only male relatives were two nephews in exile), Edward was undisputed king; the threat of usurpation by the King of Norway rallied the English and Danes in allegiance to Edward.  But when the usurper died without a credible heir, the English recalled Edward and asked him to be their sovereign. He proved to be a cautious ruler who rarely left his palace and preferred anything or anyone French over English ways. But he also had the wiliness of a survivor and managed to out-manoeuvre the ambitious earls of his kingdom, so that England enjoyed twenty-two years of relative peace.

Edward devoted a good deal of his royal income to the relief of the poor and the protection of the ordinary folk, and he lavished enormous amounts on the Church. He was responsible for the building of Westminster Abbey, which was consecrated in 1065 and eventually became the place where England’s kings and queens received their coronation. The next coronation is scheduled May 6, 2023, HM King Charles III.

Unlike his father and older brother, Edward managed to die in his own bed rather than on the battlefield. But because of an ill-considered promise made to Duke William of Normandy many years earlier, his immediate bequest to England was a confused succession and, in its wake, the Norman Conquest. The Norman kings, in fact, were the major advocates of Edward’s canonization; and we commemorate their success in this cause, by remembering him on the day in 1163 when his Norman successors moved his remains to a splendid shrine in Westminster Abbey.