Edward the Confessor (Penguin Monarchs)

Edward the Confessor (Penguin Monarchs)

The Sainted King


Edward the Confessor, the last great king of Anglo-Saxon England, canonized nearly 100 years after his death, is in part a figure of myths created in the late middle ages.

In this revealing portrait of England's royal saint, David Woodman traces the course of Edward's twenty-four-year-long reign through the lens of contemporary sources, from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Vita Ædwardi Regis to the Bayeux Tapestry, to separate myth from history and uncover the complex politics of his life. He shows Edward to be a shrewd politician who, having endured a long period of exile from England in his youth, ascended the throne in 1042 and came to control a highly sophisticated and powerful administration.

The twists and turns of Edward's reign are generally seen as a prelude to the Norman Conquest in 1066. Woodman explains clearly how events unfolded and personalities interacted but, unlike many, he shows a capable and impressive king at the centre of them.


  • David Woodman charts a shrewd course through the plentiful and often contradictory narrative sources for Edward the Confessor's reign. His book is particularly admirable for its recognition that, unusually for an English monarch, Edward proved still more influential dead than alive.
    Professor George Garnett

About the author

David Woodman

Dr David Woodman is Fellow and Senior Tutor of Robinson College, University of Cambridge. His previous publications include Charters of Northern Houses, The Long Twelfth-Century View of the Anglo-Saxon Past and Writing, Kingship and Power in Anglo-Saxon England.
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