[Review] Edward the Confessor, King of England by Peter Rex
Author: Peter Rex
Publisher: Amberley August 2013
Genre: Non-fiction, Kings and Queens of England, England, Norman history, 11th Century, Medieval history
Rating: 5 Stars for Excellent
Source: Free copy from Amberley in exchange for a review.
|Bayeux Tapestry, Edward on his throne.|
Two quotes from the foreword:
"This work is an attempt to present an alternative view of the confessor's life, character and achievements by taking into account much of the work which has been done."
"Many scholars who have worked in this field over the last one hundred and fifty years have allowed themselves to be misled by the glib persuasiveness of the Norman accounts of Edward's actions and motives."It's beneficial to read forewords, introductions, and prefaces; because it is through them, the reader understands the goals, aims, and themes, of the book. They are a beginning point, a book map. We understand where we are going, why, and what to look for along the way.
Edward was born (probably) in 1003. Edward's mother was Emma of Normandy, she was of Dane and Norse ancestry. Edward' father was King Aethelred II of England. Aethelred and Emma had three children together. Aethelred had ten children by previous wives and mistresses. Aethelred died when Edward was age thirteen. Emma later married Cnut who ruled England 1016-1035. Aethelred, his brother Alfred, and sister Godgifu, were exiled to Normandy after their father's death. It was never thought Edward would one day be king of England.
Before reading, Edward the Confessor, King of England, I'd read only brief commentaries, or essays on him. I feel well acquainted with Edward after reading Peter Rex's book.
There are several points which led me to give this book 5 stars.
1. Rex explores: Edward's early life, his parents, siblings, exile years in Normandy, and the events leading to his reign.
2. The kings before Edward are described: Sweyn, Edmund II Ironside, Cnut, Harold Harefoot, and Harthacnut. Most of these kings ruled in brief.
3. A chronicle of the relationship between Edward and Earl Godwine of Wessex is given. Godwine sought power and prestige. He was arrogant, ambitious, and disobedient to the king. Rex refers to Godwine as a "wealthy upstart".
4. Peter Rex fleshed-out the historical characters, and they became clearer to me in the culture and society in which they lived, and in the decisions they made, and their legacy.
5. I enjoyed reading the years before Edward's death, when legend tells us William from Normandy came to visit; a preclude to his invasion later. Rex points out,
"Much ink has been spilt over this visit and it has been linked to the post-Conquest Norman claims about William of Normandy's entitlement to the English throne. Some have even doubted that the visit took place, pointing to the fact that Duke William was at the critical time heavily engaged in warfare at the sieges of Alencon and Domfront, and would have found it difficult, though perhaps not impossible, to fit in a visit to England. Accepting that William did come, what can be made of it?...The Norman writers themselves know nothing about any such visit and it must surely be accepted that had they known, they would have made great use of it." Page 113.6. I appreciated Peter Rex expressing an approach which shares both sides of the Norman Conquest. The legends which have been passed down, and the facts which we have.
7. The Welsh, Scotland, and Northumbria, revolts and political maneuverings are explained.
8. Edward's lasting legacy of St Peter's Abbey/Westminster.
9. Edward and the cult which followed his death.
I've found four other non-fiction books on Edward the Confessor, King of England. They are: Edward the Confessor by Frank Barlow published in 1970, Edward the Confessor: The Man and the Legend by Richard Mortimer published 2009 ($85.50), King Edward the Confessor (16 pages on ebook), Edward (The English Monarchs Series) published 1997 at 640 pages. There are historical fiction books on Edward, and there are books which include him as a king in British history. The books I gave links to are non-fiction works.
Link @ Amazon: Edward the Confessor, King of England.
Other books on Edward the Confessor:
1. Edward the Confessor: The Man and the Legend, published in 2009, at 228 pages, and written by Richard Mortimer, price is $85.50.
2. Edward the Confessor by Frank Barlow, published in 1970, price for paperback $21.60.
Links for more information on Edward the Confessor:
History Learning Site
From Freelance History Writer, an excellent post on Edward the Confessor, King of England.