Edward the Confessor by Frank Barlow

Edward the Confessor by Frank Barlow lands on the shelves of my shop, where it will be found in my Royalty section.

London: Eyre Methuen, 1979, Hardback in dust wrapper.

Contains: Black & white photographs; Maps; Folding Tables [1]; Appendices [6];

From the cover: Few kings have attracted more legends than Edward the Confessor; and no king of England not even Alfred is associated with so much that is bogus. After his death in 1066 popular religion and the efforts of a notorious forger, Osbert of Clare, created the ecclesiastical legend with which he is generally identified the life of Saint Edward, king and confessor. As Professor Barlow makes clear, this legend scarcely touches the historical character at any point; indeed, it makes the understanding of these years that preceded the Norman Conquest all the more difficult.

Edward came to the throne in 1042, when he was nearly forty years old. The son of Ethelred the Unready, he had spent most of his life in exile in Normandy, where he had fled in 1013 after his father had been deposed by the Danish invasion of Svein Forkbeard. His exile was embittered by the knowledge that his mother Emma had married the new Danish King, Cnut (1016-1035), and that this union virtually destroyed his hopes of succession. Indeed, it was mainly good fortune that enabled him to ascend the throne on the death of his half-brother Harthacnut.

The kingdom Edward inherited was still divided, and difficult to rule. His claim to the throne was not undisputed, and his position was continually endangered by hostile and opposing forces: at home, by the political ambitions of the House of Godwin, even after his marriage to Edith, the earls daughter; abroad, by the pretensions of his Anglo-Danish and Norman relations which grew as it became clear that Edward was unlikely to produce a son.

It is the measure of Edwards character and success that he was able to survive these pressures and largely maintain control of events for twenty-four years. Further, he was able to pass down to his successor a kingdom which was not only united in its institutions and peoples where previously in the eleventh century it had been warring and divided but was able to survive the disruption of the Conquest largely intact.

In the English Monarchs series.

Very Good in Very Good Dust Wrapper.

Black boards with Gilt on Red Title Plate titling to the Spine. [XXIV] 375 pages. Index. Bibliography. 9½” x 6¼”.


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