The Life of Edward the Confessor

February 17, 2013

The only known illustrated copy of the Life of St. Edward the Confessor (1003-05 – 1066), written in England c1230-1240, is held by Cambridge University. Considered a masterpiece of mid-13th-century English illumination, the text is a hagiography describing Edward’s life, visions and miracles, his patronage of Westminster Abbey, how his rule benefited the people of England and the fate of his successor, Harold (of 1066 and the Norman Conquest fame).


Edward the Confessor, son of Aethelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings and the last King of Wessex. The Norman Conquest followed shortly after his death in 1066 – Edward had apparently promised the succession to both William and Harold, the latter being anointed successor from Edward’s deathbed. William never disputed this point, but for obvious-enough reasons, believed that the promise made to him took precedence. The rest, as they say, is history.

Edward the Confessor is buried in Westminter Abbey; the original building (demolished in 1245) was in the Norman style, reflecting his sympathies. He was the first Anglo-Saxon and only English king to be canonised (which took place in 1161) following lengthy campaigning that would appear to have been set in motion by the ambitious Prior of Westminster Abbey, who wished to enhance the status and wealth of the Abbey.

You can browse a digital copy of the manuscript here.

Edward the Confessor Consecrates Westminster Abbey

Edward the Confessor Consecrates Westminster Abbey


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