Before Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church, England was a Catholic nation.

Edward was the son of King Ethelred II and Emma, daughter of Richard II, duke of Normandy.

Edward became one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England, reigning for an impressive twenty four years from 1042 until 1066.

Early life

He spent much of his early life living in exile in France, his family driven away by Danish rule.

It was around 1034 that Edward appeared to turn to religion and develop a strong sense of conviction, a piety he would carry with him throughout his life and for which he would ultimately become well-known.


Edward succeeded to the throne in 1042. In the years following Edward’s death in 1066, his reputation for piety grew.

The last king of the House of Wessex was born in Oxfordshire at Islip.

His reign was marked by peace.

He was a frugal king, and his subjects enjoyed low taxes


He was praised for issuing prophecies, and a number of miracles were attributed to him.

He was well known for his holiness…and also his anger issues.

Edward’s brother Alfred suffered a dreadful death, blinded with red-hot pokers; he would later die from his injuries. Edward justifiably would bear a grudge and a seething hatred for Godwin the Earl of Wessex who was responsible for Alfred’s death, and Edward later banished Godwin when he became king.

As king, Edward developed a reputation for living a simple, pious lifestyle and being generous with the poor. Some reports indicate that he longed for a monastic life.

Edward’s humble tastes stood in stark contrast to that of other rulers.

Edward’s reputation for piety and charity was widespread, and he was viewed with great veneration.

Edward, the penultimate Anglo-Saxon king of England, was known as ‘the Confessor’ because of his deep piety.


In 1161 Pope Alexander III was recognized as the legitimate pope by England’s King Henry II in exchange for canonizing Edward.

One English king to become a canonized saint: Edward the Confessor.

In the later Middle Ages Edward was a favourite saint of English kings such as Henry III and Richard II.


He built Westminster Abbey and he’s buried there. Westminster Abbey was completed shortly before his death. His body remains there today, although the abbey is now an Anglican church.

Much of his reign was peaceful and prosperous. Skirmishes with the Scots and Welsh were only occasional and internal administration was maintained.

His legacy as a leader was mixed, damaged by infighting and attempts by others to seize power. Nevertheless, he brought with him a strongly religious influence, Norman-style administration and reigned for a long twenty four year period. He was later canonised and adopted as one of England’s national saints, with a feast day celebrated on 13th October in his memory.


Edward The Confessor – Historic UK (

Edward the Confessor: The story of England’s saint-king (

BBC – History – Edward the Confessor

Edward | king of England [1002?-1066] | Britannica