Edward was the seventh son of Æthelred the Unready, and the first by his second wife, Emma of Normandy. Edward was born between 1003 and 1005 in Islip, Oxfordshire, and is first recorded as a ‘witness’ to two charters in 1005.
The family spent several years in exile in Normandy after the Danish invasion of 1013. Æthelred was briefly reinstated as king but after his death in 1016, the Danes once again seized the crown.
England was ruled by Canute until his death in 1035 when Edward tried to capture the crown himself but failed.
Later, Edward vowed that he would make a pilgrimage to St Peter’s in Rome if he managed to return safely to his kingdom.
In 1042, his dream became reality when he succeeded Canute’s son on the throne. But Edward found it impossible to leave his subjects to make the pilgrimage to Rome.
The Pope released him from his vow on the condition he founded a monastery and dedicated it to St Peter. In accordance with the Pope’s wishes, Edward built a new cathedral in Norman style to replace the Saxon church at Westminster. The cathedral became known as Westminster Abbey.Read More »