Edward the Confessor (DNB00)
|←Edward the Martyr||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 17
Edward the Confessor
EDWARD or EADWARD, called the Confessor (d. 1066), king of the English, the elder son of Æthelred the Unready by his marriage in 1002 with Emma, daughter of Richard the Fearless, duke of the Normans, was born at Islip in Oxfordshire (Kemble, Codex Dipl. 862), and was presented by his parents upon the altar of the monastery of Ely, where it is said that he passed his early years and learnt to sing psalms with the boys of the monastery school (Liber Eliensis ii. c. 91). When Swend was acknowledged king, in 1013, Emma fled to Normandy to the court of her brother, Richard the Good, and shortly afterwards Æthelred sent Eadward and his younger brother Ælfred [q. v.] to join her there under the care of Ælthun, bishop of London. On Swend's death, in February 1014, Eadward and his mother were sent to England by Æthelred in company with the ambassadors who came over to ascertain whether the 'witan' would again receive him as king. When Æthelred was restored to his kingdom he left Eadward and his brother to be educated at the Norman court, where they were treated with the honour due to their birth (Will. of Jumièges, vi. 10). Towards the end of Cnut's reign, Duke Robert asserted their right to the throne, and Eadward set sail with the duke from Fécamp to invade England; the wind drove the Norman fleet to Jersey and the enterprise was abandoned (ib,; Wace, 1. 7897 sq.; Gesta Regum, ii. 180). The assertion of William of Jumièges that Cnut soon afterwards offered half his kingdom to the æthelings may safely be disregarded. In 1036, when Cnut was dead, and Harold ruled over the northern part of England, while Harthacnut, though still in Denmark, reigned probably as an under-king over Weasex, the æthelings made an attempt to enforce their claim. Eadward is said to have sailed with forty ships, to have landed at Southampton, and to have defeated a force of English with great loss (Will, of Poitiers, p. 78). He probably sailed in company with his brother, and stayed at Winchester, where his mother dwelt, while Ælfred tried to reach London. When the news came of his brother's overthrow and death, Emma is said to have helped him to leave the kingdom in safety (Flor. Wig. i. 191-2; Kemble, Codex Dipl.. 824, doubtful). He returned to England in 1041, probably at the invitation of his half-brother Harthacnut, then sole king, who was childless, and, though young, was in weak health. Several Normans and Frenchmen of high birth accompanied him, and chief among them his nephew Ralph, son of his sister Godgifu and Drogo of Mantes (Vita Eadwardi, l. 335; Historia Rames, p. 171). The king received him with honour, and he took up his abode at court, though the story that he was invited by Harthacnut to share the kingship with him can scarcely be true (Encomium Emmæ, iii. 13; Saxo, p. 202).
At the time of Harthacnut's death, in June ' 1042, Eadward appears to have been in Normandy (Vita, l. 196; Will, of Poitiers, p. 85). Nevertheless, he was chosen king at London, even before his predecessor was buried. This election was evidently not held to be final, and was probably made by the Londoners without the concurrence of the 'witan' (on the circumstances attending Eadward's election and coronation see Norman Conquest, ii. 517 sq.) Negotiations appear to have passed between Eadward and Earl Godwine, the most powerful noble in the kingdom, who was perhaps anxious to prevent him from bringing over a force of Normans (Henry of Huntingdon, p. 759), and these negotiations were no doubt forwarded by the Norman Duke William, though it is not necessary to believe that Eadward owed his crown to the duke's interference, and to the fear that the English had of his power. Godwine and other earls and certain bishops brought him over from Normandy, and on his arrival in England a meeting of the 'witan' was held at Gillingham. According to Dr. Freeman this was the Wiltshire Gillingham, for the meeting was, he holds, directly followed by the coronation at Winchester. On the other hand, Eadward's biographer speaks of a coronation at Canterbury, and as a contemporary writing for the king's widow can scarcely be mistaken on such a point, it seems not unreasonable to suppose that this was the Gillingham in Kent. Some opposition was raised in the assembly to Eadward's candidature, probably by a Danish party which upheld the claim of Swend Estrithson, the nephew of Cnut (Gesta Regum ii. 197; Adam of Bremen, ii. 74). Although Godwine, both as the husband of Swend's aunt Gytha and as the trusted minister of Cnut, must naturally have been inclined to the Danish cause, he must have seen that the nation was set on the restoration of the line of native kings, for he put himself at the head of Eadward's supporters, and by his eloquence and authority joined with a certain amount of bribery secured his election, the few who remained obstinate being noted for future punishment. Eadward received the crown and was enthroned in Christ Church, Canterbury, and then, if this attempt to construct a consecutive narrative is correct, at once proceeded to Winchester, where it was customary for the king to wear his crown and hold a great assembly every Easter. There, on Easter day, 8 April 1043, he was solemnly crowned by Eadsige, archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by Ælfric of York and other bishops, Eadsige exhorting him as to the things that were for his and for his people's good (Anglo-Saxon Chron.) The opposition to his election and the subsequent punishment of the leaders of the Danish party have been made the basis of a fable, which represents the English as rising against the Danes at the death of Harthacnut, and expelling them from the kingdom by force of arms(Brompton, col. 934; Knighton, col. 2326). At Winchester Eadward received ambassadors irom the German king Henry, afterwards the Emperor Henry III, his brother-in-law, who sent them to congratulate him, to bring him presents, and to make alliance with him. Henry, king of the French, also sought his alliance, and Magnus of Norway, who was now engaged in making himself master of Denmark, is said to have taken him for 'father,' and bound himself to him by oaths, while the great vassals of these kings are also described as doing him homage (Vita, 1 . 205 sq.) As regards Magnus and the nobles of other Kingdoms it is probable that the biographer has exaggerated, though just at that moment the Norwegian king may well have made some effort to secure the friendship of England. In the following November Eadward, by the advice of the three chief earls of the kingdom, seized on the vast treasures of his mother, Emma, and shortly afterwards deprived Stigand, her chaplain and counsellor, of his bishopric. The reason of these acts was that Emma 'had done less for him than he would before he was king, and also since then' (A.-S, Chron.); since her marriage with Cnut she had thrown in her lot with the fortunes of the Danish dynasty, had now probably refused to assist the party of Eadward, and may even have espoused the cause of Swend. Her fall was followed by the banishment of several of the leading Danes. Of the three earls, Godwine, earl of Wessex, Leofric of Mercia, and Siward of Northumbria, who virtually divided England between them, Godwine was the ablest and most powerful. The king was bound to him as the main agent in setting him on the throne, and on 23 Jan. 1045 married his daughter Eadgyth [see Edith, d. 1075].
Eadward is described as of middle stature and kingly mien; his hair and his beard were of snowy whiteness, his face was plump and ruddy, and his skin white; he was doubtless an albino. His manners were affable and gracious, and while he bore himself majestically in public, he used in private, though never undignified, to be sociable with his courtiers. Although he was sometimes moved to great wrath he abstained from using abusive words. Unlike his countrymen generally he was moderate in eating and drinking, and though at festivals he wore the rich robes his queen worked for him, he did not care for them, for he was free from personal vanity. He was charitable, compassionate, and devout, and during divine service always behaved with a decorum then unusual among kings, for he very seldom talked unless some one asked him a Question (Vita), That he desired the good of his people there can be no question; but it is equally certain that he took little pains to secure it. His virtues would have adorned the cloister, his failings ill became a throne. The regrets of his people when under the harsh rule of foreigners and the saint ship with which he was invested after his death have to some extent thrown a veil over his defects; but he was certainly indolent and neglectful of his kindly duties (Ailred, col. 388; Gesta Regum, ii. 196; Saxo, p. 203). The division of the kingdom into great earldoms hindered the exercise of the royal power, and he willingly left the work of government to others. At every period of his reign he was under the influence and control, either of men who had gained power almost independently of him, or of his personal favourities. These favourites were chosen with little regard to their deserts, and were mostly foreigners; for his long residence in Normandy made him prefer Normans to Englishmen. Besides those who came over with him in the reign of Harthacnut, many others also came hither after he was made king. When he was at Winchester, at the time of his coronation he sent gifts to the French (Norman) nobles, and to some of them granted yearly pensions. Save as regards ecclesiastical preferments, the influence of Earl Godwine appears to have been strong enough at first to keep the foreigners at the court, simply in the position of personal favourites, but after a while the king promoted them to offices in the state, as well as in the church. The court was the scene of perpetual intrigues, and, slothful as he was. Eadward seems to have taken part in these manoeuvres. Apart from his share in them he did little except in ecclesiastical matters. He favoured monasticism, and gave much to monasteries both at home and abroad. Foreign churchmen were always sure to gain wealth if they came to this country, as they often did, on a begging expedition, and to receive preferment if they stayed here. Bishoprics were now as a rule virtually at the king's disposal, and Eadward certainly did not endeavour to appoint the best men to them. In this matter, as in all else, he was often guided by his partiality for his favourites, or by some court intrigue. The first intrigue of this kind was carried out by Godwine, who in 1044, with the king's co-operation, arranged the appointment of a coadjutor-archbishop of Canterbury, in order to secure the position of his adherent Eadsige [q. v.] Although Eadward was probably not personally guilty of simony, he made no effort to prevent others from practising it; and this evil, which did the greatest mischief to the church, and against which vigorous efforts were now being made in other lands, was shamefully prevalent here during his reign, and was carried on by those who were most trusted by him. His alleged refusal to avail himself of marital privileges, which is dwelt on with special unction by his monastic admirers, is not distinctly asserted either by the writers of the 'Chronicle,' or by Florence, or by the king's contemporary biographer. It is spoken of, though only as a matter of report, by William of Jumièges, and was generally believed in the twelfth century. The concurrence of the queen is asserted by Æthelred (Ailred) of Rievaux, who gives many evidently imaginary details. Some expressions in the 'Vita Eaawardi' seem to make it probable that Eadward, who must have been about forty at the time of his marriage, lived with his young and beautiful wife, though making her 'tori ejus consocia' (I. 1015), rather as a father than as a husband (II. 1365, 1420, 1559). It is possible that he was physically unfit for married life (the whole question is exhaustively discussed by Dr. Freeman, Norman Conquest ii. 47, 530-5). A leading feature in his character seems to have been a certain childishness, which comes out forcibly in the story that one day, when he was hunting — a pastime to which he was much addicted — a countryman threw down the fences which compelled the stags to run into the nets. The King fell into a rage, and cried, 'By God and his mother, I will do you a like ill turn if I can' (Gesta Regum, ii. 196). Again, it is said that he was once an unseen witness of a theft from his treasury. Twice the thief filled his bosom, and when he came to the chest for a third supply the king heard the footstep of his treasurer, and cried to the thief to make haste, for 'By the mother of God,' he said, 'if Hugolin [his Norman treasurer] comes, he will not leave you a coin.' The thief made off, and when the treasurer was aghast at the loss, the king told him that enough was left and that he who had taken what was gone wanted it more than either of them, and should keep it (Ailred, col. 376).
During the first six or seven years of Eadward's reign, while he was evidently under the influence of Godwine, he showed some signs of activity. A Scandinavian invasion was threatened, for as soon as Magnus had taken possession of Denmark, he sent to Eadward demanding the throne of England in virtue of an agreement with Harthacnut (Laing, Sea Kings ii. 397; Corpus Poeticum Boreale, ii. 178). A fleet was fitted out to meet the expected invasion, and the king appears to have taken a personal part in the preparations. Magnus, however, had to engage in a war with Swend, and, though he was victorious, died in 1047, before he could carry out his design on England. About this time a raid was made on the southern coasts by two Norwegian leaders, and Eadward embarked with his earls and pursued the pirates. The ships of the vikings took shelter in Flanders, and when, in 1049, the Emperor Henry called on Eadward to help him against his rebellious vassal Count Baldwin, the king gathered his fleet at Sandwich and lay there in readiness to take an active part against the common enemy. While he was there he was reconciled to Godwine's son Swegen, the seducer of the abbess of Leominster, who had left the kingdom, had been outlawed, and had betaken himself to a searover's life, and he even promised to restore him all that he had forfeited. Swegen's brother Harold, and his cousin Beorn [q. v.], who had profited by his disgrace, persuaded the king to change his mind, and to refuse his request. In revenge Swegen slew Beorn, and was again outlawed; the next year his outlawry was reversed [see under Aldred], Meanwhile, the foreign party was rapidly gaining strength; it was headed by Robert, who had come over to England as abbot of Jumièges, and had, in 1044, been made bishop of London. He had been one of the king's friends during his residence in Normandy, and soon gained such unbounded influence over him that it is said that if he declared 'a black crow to be white the king would sooner believe his words than his own eyes' (Ann, Winton, p. 21); he used this influence to set Eadward against Godwine. Another Norman, named Ulf, one of Eadward's clerks or chaplains, received the vast bishopric of Dorchester from the king in 1049. He was scandalously unfit for such preferment, and 'did nought bishop-like therein' (Anglo-Saxon Chron.) One effect of Eadward's foreign training, and of the promotion of foreign ecclesiastics, was an increase of the relations between our church and Latin Christendom. In 1049 Eadward sent representatives to the council held by Leo IX at Rheims, that they might bring him word what was done there (ib.), and the next year he sent ambassadors to Home for another purpose. Before he came to the throne he had, it is said, made a vow of pilgrimage to Rome, and its non-fulfilment troubled his conscience. Accordingly, we are told, though the details of the story are somewhat doubtful, that he consulted the 'witan' on the subject, and that they declared that he ought not to leave the kingdom, and advised him to apply to the pope for absolution. He certainly sent Ealdred [see under Aldred] and another bishop to the council of Rome, and it is said that Leo there granted him absolution on condition that he gave to the poor the money that the journey would have cost him, and built or restored a monastery in honour of St. Peter(Ailred, col. 381; Kemble, Codex Dipl. 824, doubtful; Anglo-Saxon Chron. sub an. 1047). He afterwards fulfilled the pope's command by building the West Minster. The same year Ulf attended another papal council at Vercelli, apparently seeking the confirmation of his appointment, which was a strange thing for an English bishop to do. The utter unfitness of the man whom Eadward had preferred was apparent to all, and 'they wellnigh broke his staff because he could not perform his ritual,' but he saved his bishopric by a large payment of money. The rivalry between Godwine and his adherents and the foreign party came to a trial of strength on the death of Archbishop Eadsige in October 1050. Ælfric [q. v.], a kinsman of Godwine, who was canonically elected to the archbishopric, and whose claims were upheld by the earl, was rejected by the king in favour of Robert of Jumièges, who received the see the following year. Eadward perhaps gratified himself by appointing Spearhafoc, abbot of Abingdon, a skilful goldsmith, to succeed Robert, in the bishopric of London, for he was engaged to make a splendid crown for the king, a circumstance that suggests a corrupt motive for his preferment (Historia de Abingdon, i. 403). Eadward gave his abbey to a Norwegian bishop, who is said to have been his own kinsman, inducing the monks, though against their will, to receive him, by promising that at the next vacancy their rignt of election should be unfettered, a promise he did not keep (ib. p. 464). When Robert returned from Rome with his pall, Spearhafoc applied to him for consecration, presenting him with the king's sealed writ commanding him to perform the rite; this Robert refused to obey, declaring that the pope had forbidden him to do so, which makes it probable that the appointment was simoniacal. Eadward, however, gave Spearhafoc his 'full leave' to occupy the bishopric, unconsecrated as he was (Anglo-Saxon Chron. Peterborough, sub an. 1048). In the same year that Eadward made these ecclesiastical appointments (1051) he stopped the collection of the heregeld, a tax levied for the maintenance of the fleet, and disbanded the seamen. The remission of this tax was a highly popular measure, and was, according to legend, granted by the king in consequence of his seeing the devil sitting on the heap of treasure it had produced (Hoveden,i. 110). It should probably be connected with the decline of the influence exerted on Eadward by Earl Godwine, who could scarcely have approved of his thus doing away with the means of naval defence.
In the autumn of this year the men of Dover incurred the king's displeasure by resisting the outrages committed by one of his foreign visitors, Eustace, count of Boulogne, the second husband of his sister Godgifu. Eustace complained to Eadward, and he commanded Godwine, in whose earldom Dover lay, to march on the town and harry it. Godwine refused to obey this tyrannical order, and Archbishop Robert took occasion to excite the king against him, reminding him that the earl was, as he asserted, guilty of the cruel murder of his brother Ælfred (Vita, l. 406). A second cause of quarrel arose from the outrages committed by the garrison of a castle built by one of Eadward's French followers in Herefordshire, the earldom of Godwine's son Swegen. Eadward summoned a meeting of the 'witan,' and the Earls Leofric and Siward arrayed their forces on the king's side against those of Godwine and his sons. The king, who was at Gloucester, was for a while very fearful, but gained confidence when ho found himself strongly supported, and refused Godwine's demands. Civil war was prevented by the mediation of Leofric; Swegen's outlawry was renewed; and Godwine and Harold were summoned to appear at the witenagemot at London. They demanded a safeconduct and hostages, and when these were refused, the earl and his family fled the country and were outlawed. Archbishop Robert is said to have endeavoured to bring about a divorce between the king and queen, and, though he did not insist on this, he persuaded Eadward, who listened willingly enough to his counsel, to seize on the queen's possessions and send her off in disgrace to a nunnery . The foreign party had now undisputed influence over the king; Spearhafoc was deprived of the bishopric of London, and one of Eadward's Norman clerks named William was consecrated to the sec. William, duke of the Normans, came over to England with a large number of followers to visit his cousin, and Eadward received him honourably and sent him away with many rich gifts (Anglo-Saxon Chron. Worcester; Flor. Wig.; Wace, l. 10648 sq.) It is probable that during this visit Eadward promised to do what he could to promote the duke's succession to the English throne (Norman Conquest ii. 294-300, iii. 677 sq.) In 1052 Godwine made an attempt to procure a reconciliation with the king, and his cause was urged by ambassadors from the French king and the count of Flanders, but his enemies prevented Eadward from attending to their representations. At last he determined to return by force. Harold plundered the coast of Somerset with some Irish ships, and Godwine, after making one ineffectual attempt to effect a landing with ships that he gathered in Flanders, joined his son, sailed up the Thames, anchored off Southwark, and was welcomed by most of the Londoners. Eadward did not hear of the earl's invasion until his fleet had reached Sandwich. On receiving the news he summoned his forces to meet him, hastened up to London with an army, and occupied the north side of the river. There he received a demand from the earl that he and his house should be restored. He refused for some while, and the earl's men were so enraged that they could with difficulty be withheld from violence. Stigand, since 1047 bishop of Winchester, mediated between the two parties, hostages were given, and it was determined to lay the whole Question before an assembly which should be held the next day, 15 Sept. As soon as this arrangement came to their ears, all the foreigners, churchmen as well as laymen, fled in haste, Robert and Ulf escaping from England by ship. The assembly was held outside London, and there the earl knelt before the king, and adjured him by the cross he bore upon his crown to allow him to purge himself by oath of what was laid against him. The earl's cause was popular, he was declared innocent, he and his family were restored to all they had held before their outlawry, and Archbishop Robert and all the Normans who had acted unjustly and given evil counsel were declared outlaws. Eadward, who found himself deserted by his foreign favourites, and with far less power in the assembly than the earl, yielded to the entreaties of his advisers, and was formally reconciled to him and his sons. The reconciliation was speedily followed by the return and restoration of the queen. As far as matters of government were concerned Eadward was now wholly under the power of Godwine and his party, and their ascendency was shown by the appointment of Stigand to the archbishopric of Canterbury, which he held in defiance of the law of the church during the lifetime of Robert. On the death of Godwine, who was seized with a fit while feasting with the king in April 1053, Eadward appointed his eldest surviving son, Harold, to succeed him as earl of the West-Saxons, and from that time left the government in Harold's hands. At the same time he was not deprived of the society of his Norman favourites, for the sentence of outlawry proclaimed at the restoration of Godwine only touched those foreigners who had abused their power, and a large number of Normans remained in England during the remainder of the reign, and held offices in the court. With the exception, however, of the king's nephew, Ralph, who was allowed to retain his earldom, and William, bishop of London, who was personally popular, no great offices in church or state were after 1052 held by Normans (Norman Conquest ii. 358).
Whatever the truth may be about Eadward's promise to Duke William with respect to the succession, he either of his own accord, or prompted by a decree of the 'witan,'sent for his nephew, Eadward the ætheling, in 1054, to come to him from Hungary, intending to make him his heir. The ætheling arrived in England in 1057. He was, however, kept — we are not told by whom — from seeing his uncle, and died shortly afterwards (Anglo-Saxon Chron., Abingdon; Flor. Wig.) No other Englishman appears to have been so beloved by Eadward as Tostig, the brother of Harold. This stem and violent man gained great influence over the weak king, who in spite of his saintliness was spiteful and cruel when any one offended him, and must therefore have been glad to find a counsellor and companion as unscrupulous as he was himself when his passion was roused, and of a far stronger will than his own. Tostig was also dearer to the queen than any of her brothers, and Harold's scheme for increasing his own power by appointing him to rule over the earldom of Northumberland, at the death of Siward in 1055, was therefore acceptable at court. A further attempt to raise the power of the house of Godwine was the banishment of Ælfgar, earl of the East-Angles, who was accused of treason against the king and the people, Ælfgar, who according to most of our authorities was almost or altogether guiltless, was driven to rebellion, and in alliance with Gruffydd, of North Wales, made war on England, and did much mischief. Before long, however, Eadward reinstated him in all his possessions, and Gruffydd made submission to the English king and acknowledged his superiority. The wars of Harold in Wales, and his conquest of the country, scarcely concern the king personally. On 3 May 1060 Eadward was present at the consecration of the collegiate church founded by Harold at Waltham. The Welsh war ended in 1063, and in August Harold presented the king with the head of Gruffydd, who had been slain by his own people, and with the beak of his ship. Eadward granted Wales to two of Gruffydd's kinsmen, and received their submission. He was hunting with Tostig in the forests near Wilton, in October 1065, when Harold brought him tiding of the insurrection of the north. The appointment of Tostig to the earldom of Northumberland had been disastrous. He seems to have passed most of his time with the king in the south of England; for he handed over the government of his vast earldom to a deputy. The Northumbrians, no doubt, were offended at finding their land reduced to the position of a 'mere dependency' (Norman Conquest ii. 485). Tostig's violence and treachery enraged them; his Absence encouraged them to revolt. The insurgents held an assembly at York, and chose an earl for themselves, Morkere, the younger son of Ælfgar, who during the last years of his life had been earl of Mercia, and had at his death been succeeded by his elder son Eadwine. Although the revolt of the north against Tostig lessened the power of Godwine's house, it does not follow that it was a check to the plans of Harold; for he had by this time formed an alliance with Eadwine and Morkere, and had married their sister. He now appeared before the king with the news that Tostig's followers had been slain, and that Morkere and the northern army had already advanced as far south as Northampton. Eadward at first seems to have believed that there was no cause for anxiety, and simply sent Harold to the insurgents with the command that they were to lay down their arms, and seek justice in a lawful assembly (Vita, l. 1159). They answered that they demanded the banishment of Tostig and the recognition of Morkere as their earl, and that on these conditions only they would return to their loyalty. After two other attempts to pacify them by negotiation the king seems to have awoke to the serious nature of the revolt. He left his hunting, and held an assembly at Britford, near Salisbury. There Tostig accused Harold before the king of stirring up this revolt against him, and Harold cleared himself of the charge by the process of law known as compurgation (ib. I. 1182). Eadward was eager to call out the national forces and put down the revolt with the sword. To this the nobles, evidently with Harold at their head, strongly objected, and when they were unable to dissuade him they withdrew from him and left him powerless. Harold met the insurgents at Oxford on 28 Oct., and yielded to all their demands. Three days later Eadward, unable to protect his favourite, loaded him with presents, and parted with him with exceeding sorrow, and Tostig and his family left England. Mortification and sorrow brought an illness on Eadward, from which he never recovered; and he called on God to avenge him on those who had failed him at his need and baffled his hopes of crushing the insurgents (ib, l. 1195 sq.)
Ever since 1051 Eadward had been carrying on the work of rebuilding the monastery of Thomey beyond the western gate of London in fulfilment of the charge laid upon him by the pope. The monastic buildings were completed in 1061, and during the last years of his life he pressed on the erection of the church, which he built a little to the west of the old one, so that the monks might be able to continue to perform service without interruption(Kemble, Codex Dipl. 824, 825, spurious; Vita, l. 974 sq.) A tenth of all his possessions was devoted to the work. His church was the earliest example in England of the Norman variety of romanesque architecture, and remained in the twelftn century as the model which others strove to imitate (Gesta Regum ii. c. 228). It was consecrated on Innocents' day, 28 Dec. 1065. Eadward was too ill to be present at the magnificent ceremony, and his place was taken by his queen. He was now lying on his deathbed in his palace hard by, and when he heard that all had been duly accomplished he rapidly grew worse, and on 3 Jan. was so weak that he could no longer speak intelligibly (Vita l. 1447). On the 5th he recovered his power of speech, and talked with those who stood round his bed: his queen, who was warming his feet in her bosom. Archbishop Stigand, Harold, his Norman staller Robert, and some few of his personal friends. He prophesied that a time of evil was coming on the land, and signified by an allegory how long that time would last. All heard him with awe save Stigand, who whispered in Harold's ear that age and sickness had robbed him of his wits. He took leave of his queen, commended her to the care of the earl, her brother, and it is said named him as his successor (ib. l. 1503; Anglo-Saxon Chron. Peterborough and Abingdon; Flor. Wig. i. 224). Then he bade him be gracious to those foreigners who had left their own land to come and dwell as his subjects, and who had served him faithfully, and gave directions for his burial. He received the last sacrament and then died. He was buried the next day in his newly consecrated church of St. Peter at Westminster, probably by Abbot Eadwine (Norman Conquest, iii. 28; here, as elsewhere, Dr. Freeman uses that important record, the Bayeux tapestry, to good effect). The so-called laws of Eadward are said to have been drawn up from declarations made on oath by twelve men of each shire in 1070 (Hoveden, ii. 218); the earliest extant version of them was perhaps compiled by Ranulf Glanvill (ib. pref. xlvii). Probably in 1070 the Conqueror declared that all should live under Eadward's law, together with such additions as he had made to it, and a like promise was made by Henry I in his charter of 1100 (Select Charters, 81, 98). These grants, which should be compared with Cnut's renewal of Eadgar's law [see under Canute], signified that the people should enjoy their national laws and customs, and that English and Normans should dwell together in peace and security. Eadward's tomb before the high altar soon became the scene of many miracles (Vita, l. 1609). As the last English king of the old royal line he was naturally remembered with feelings of affection, that found expression in acts of devotion and legends of his holiness. Among these legends his vision that the seven sleepers of Ephesus had turned on to their left sides is one of the most famous (Estorie, l. 3341 sq.). Another of greater historical importance, as proving that he practised the custom of episcopal investiture, must be reserved for the life of Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester (Ailred, col. 406). He is said to have healed many persons, and especially those suffering from ulcers, by touching them. William of Malmesbury declares that those who knew him while he lived in Normandy said that he performed some miracles of this kind before he came to the throne, and that it was therefore a mistake to assert, as some people then did, that he had this power, not because of his holiness, but in virtue of his hereditary royalty (Gesta Regum, ii. 222). By the end of the twelfth century it appears to have generally been believed that the kings of England had the gift of healing in virtue of their anointing (Peter of Blois, Ep. 150), and down to the early part of the eighteenth century the power of curing the ‘king's evil’ was held to descend as an ‘hereditary miracle’ upon all the rightful successors of the Confessor (Collier, Ecclesiastical History, i. 530). It was, of course, no part of the Norman policy to check the popular reverence for a king who was the kinsman of the Conqueror, and whose lawful successor William claimed to be, and as the monks of Westminster declared that the body of their patron had not undergone decay, his tomb was opened in 1102 by Gilbert Crispin, the abbot, and Gundulf, bishop of Rochester, who, it is said, found that the report was true (Ailred, col. 408). In 1140 an attempt was made by Eadward's biographer, Osbert, or Osbern, of Clare, prior of Westminster, to procure his canonisation by Innocent II. Osbert's scheme came to nothing, and Eadward was canonised by Alexander III in 1161, his day, of course, being that of his death (Monasticon, i. 308; Norman Conquest, iii. 33). The body of the new saint was first translated by Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, in the presence of Henry II, on 13 Oct. 1163, and the event is still commemorated on that day in the calendar of the English church (Paris, ii. 221). At the coronation of Henry III, in 1236, the Confessor's sword was carried before the king by the Earl of Chester (ib. iii. 337). This sword, which was called ‘custein,’ or ‘curtana,’ formed part of the regalia, and the present ‘sword of state’ is the counterpart of it (Loftie, Tower of London, p. 19). Henry held the Confessor, to whom indeed he bore a certain moral resemblance, in special reverence, and caused his eldest son, Edward I, to be named after him (Trivet, p. 225). Moreover, to do him honour, he rebuilt the abbey of Westminster, and on 13 Oct. 1269 performed with great splendour the second translation of the relics, which were laid in a shrine of extraordinary magnificence (Wikes, p. 226). The shrine was spoiled in the reign of Henry VIII, but the body of the king was not disturbed. Queen Mary restored the shrine, and the body of the Confessor was for the third time translated, on 20 March 1556–7 (Grey Friars Chronicle, p. 94, and Machyn, Diary, p. 120, Camd. Soc.).
[Dr. Freeman has devoted vol. ii. of his Norman Conquest almost wholly to the reign of the Confessor, and it has not been possible to add anything material to what he has recorded. In the above article several events of the reign have been left out because they do not seem to have concerned the king personally; they will be found in Dr. Freeman's work. Lives of Edward the Confessor, ed. Luard (Rolls Ser.), contains, with some less important pieces, the Vita Æduuardi Regis, written for Queen Eadgyth, and La Estorie de Seint Aedward le Rei, a poem dedicated to Eleanor, queen of Henry III. This poem is largely based on the Vita S. Edwardi of Ailred [Æthelred] of Rievaux, Twysden, written early in the reign of Henry II. This again is taken almost bodily from the Vita by Osbert the prior, mentioned above. Osbert's work, which has never been printed, is in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS. 161 (Luard's Lives, pref. xxv; Hardy's Cat. of MSS. i. 637). See also Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Rolls Ser.); Florence of Worcester (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Symeon of Durham (Rolls Ser.); William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Henry of Huntingdon, Mon. Hist. Brit.; Kemble's Codex Dipl. iv. (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Historia Ramesiensis (Rolls Ser.); Liber Eliensis (Stewart); Chron. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.); Roger of Howden (Rolls Ser.); Brompton, Knighton, Twysden; William of Poitiers (Giles); Wace's Roman de Rou (Taylor); William of Jumièges (Duchesne); Saxo, Historia Danica (Stephanius); Encomium Emmæ [Cnutonis Gesta] (Pertz); Matthew Paris (Rolls Ser.); Wikes's Ann. Monast. iv. (Rolls Ser.); Dugdale's Monasticon; Green's Conquest of England; Dart's Westmonasterium; Stanley's Memorials of Westminster.]