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Edward the Confessor Reviews

Edward the Confessor by Tom Licence

Edward the Confessor: Last of the Royal Blood

Tom Licence

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 4 Aug 2020
ISBN: 9780300211542

An authoritative life of Edward the Confessor, the monarch whose death sparked the invasion of 1066

3 stars out of 5
3 Dec 2020

"Licence does his best for his subject but the story he tells"

The Anglo-Saxon elites, secular and religious, paid a full price for their self-absorption with the wave of dispossessions that followed the Norman Conquest. (It’s hard not to wonder if the Conquest came as something of a relief to the lower classes, though if it did, of course, they had no voice to say so.) Meanwhile, the main reason for the precarious peace of Edward’s lifetime is probably not his saintly life, as early biographers would have it, or his diplomatic skills, as in Licence’s interpretation, but simply that all his half-brother competitors had died or been killed. Licence does his best for his subject but the story he tells, especially in modern circumstances, is instructive rather than satisfying or (at least as regards Edward) entirely convincing. It shows a country in dire need of reform from the top down, and the country eventually got it. But not from Edward.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Leanda de Lisle
31 Jul 2020

"this biography uncovers a wily fighter"

In putting flesh back on Edward’s bones Licence has brought a new succession story to popular attention. Richard III and the Princes in the Tower, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn have fresh competition in the women, the darkness and the mysteries of Edward’s life and legacy.