How effective was Edward the Confessor

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 22-05-17 14:13
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  • How effective was the late Saxon monarchy?
    • Personality
      • Pious and artistic, reflected in building Westminster Abbey - Edward  became a saint
      • Edward was admired for his pious qualities and charity to the church (earning him title of saint and a good review by the Monks)
      • Edward was shaped by his time on the continent
      • Service to church not recognised as practical - did little to increase his power effectively
      • Edward did not utilise all his powers
      • Monarchs relied heavily on thier personalities to rule (ensured loyalty)
    • Land holding
      • Boarders were secure
      • No real power base due to having grown up on continent
        • Power base, if any, in Wessex so could be influenced by Godwin
      • Some incursions from Wales
    • Military leadership
      • Military force equal to any other
      • Large number of resources available
      • Largely peace in his time
      • Welsh incursions repelled  in 1063
      • Considered least effective
      • Difficult to concentrate force in an area for any given time
      • Poorly organised his large resources
      • Never utilised feudal system to call up all subjects (especially fyrd)
    • Power of Earls - greatest challenge to Edward, particularly Godwin
      • Edward counter acted Godwin by bringing in Normans to balance power
      • Able to get other earls and support nobility to force Godwin out in 1051
      • Godwin ensured England was ruled effectively as sub-regulus
      • Had to rely on Godwins to run country due to Edward having no effective power base
      • Despite forcing Godwins out, they returned in 1052 - clear Harold was able to exert influence on running country
      • Edward had to rely on Godwins due to lack of support in land
    • Administration
      • Position upheld by a series of institutions - royal authorities and institutions
      • Strong, well organised and efficient legal system ensured justice was upheld
      • Fiscal system carried on running
      • Taxes collected effectively
      • Norman rulers carried on government policies
      • System of government so effective it could have survived without a monarch
    • Coinage and taxation
      • Centralised control of currency regulated custom of all moneyeurs to obtain di in London to be enforced
      • Large amounts of taxes collected
      • Used to pay off Viking invaders - Dane Geld
    • Succession
      • Succeeded in limiting Godwin's influence
      • Made it clear he wanted Harold to succeed him - left throne to strong ruler
      • Failed to produce heir
      • Failed to prevent a struggle for succession leading to Danish invasions coming back
      • William and Harald Hardrada undeterred by his decision
    • Judgements
      • Power of Earls could be considered least effective part of Edward's monarchy
        • Despite fact Godwins ensured England was run effectively, Edward almost relied on them to keep him in power due to fact he had little support in England and no power base due to having grown up on continent
        • Edward even allowed Godwins (who's family already was and would control large areas of England as earls) to see him marry Edith, giving Godwins influence in royal family and possible stake in succession
        • He also allowed Godwins further influence in England by granting earldoms to nearly all sons of Godwin, e.g. making Harold Earl of East Anglia in 1045 as well as making Tostig Ear of Northumbria in 1053
        • Even though Edward was able to mass support among earls and nobility to drive Godwins out in 1051 following Dover Fracas, Godwin was able to return following year (with some of his sons) raiding coasts of Northern England from Isle of Wight) and his son Harold was quickly able to force his influence back into English government
      • Possibly most effective part of Edward's rein was administration
        • Despite fact it could survive without him (which could arguably strengthen effectiveness) administration allowed Edward to maintain royal authority and overcome his other limitations
        • Legal system was well organised and effective meaning fair justice
        • Taxes were collected effectively while fiscal system (two tests of government) remained effective.
        • Fact Normans carried this government over after their invasion testifies how effect system was as William I made little alterations beyond swapping English personnel for Norman ones and increasing power to sheriffs


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