Tom Shippey, 3 December 2020
The young Edward was one of a throng of half-brothers, both Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Danish (while he himself was Anglo-Norman), intent on killing one another. When his Anglo-Saxon half-brother Edmund Ironside died, 11-year-old Edward had to be hurried out of the country before his Anglo-Danish relatives came looking for him. For the next twenty or so years he lived abroad at the court of his cousin, Robert of Normandy. He and Alfred remained, however, the last known representatives of ‘the royal blood’ of England. Edward’s chance came in 1041, by which time Harold Harefoot had died and Harthacnut, half-brother to both Harold and Edward, would die the following year. Facing no immediate contender, he came to the throne in 1042. Edward could be forgiven if by this time he was irrevocably paranoid. Was he accordingly reluctant to do much in this world, hoping for salvation in the next?