Edward the Confessor and the Succession Question: A Fresh Look at the Sources

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


At the Westminster conference of 2005 marking the millennium of the birth of Edward the Confessor, Stephen Baxter delivered a paper on the succession question, which was duly published in the conference proceedings, in 2009.1 The conference was the first large-scale effort to address the mysteries of the reign since the appearance, in 1970, of Frank Barlow’s biography of Edward in the Yale English Monarchs series.2 In the interim, the greatest puzzle of all – of whom Edward wished to succeed him – had exercised many scholars but with the overall effect of eroding old convictions. Within the camp of those who favour the view that Edward chose William of Normandy, it is instructive to compare Eric John’s belief, in 1979, that David Douglas had ‘placed it beyond doubt’ that Edward had named William as his heir, with the cautious remarks of Simon Keynes, that ‘in a heady moment of political freedom in 1051, he entered into an understanding with William which appears to have had something to do with the succession’, and with Baxter’s belief, that in 1051 Edward probably made ‘some kind of commitment to Duke William concerning the succession in return for his support’.3If anything, over the last thirty years, doubts about this question have been growing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnglo-Norman Studies XXXIX
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Battle Conference 2016
EditorsElisabeth van Houts
PublisherBoydell and Brewer
ISBN (Print)9781783272211
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
EventLecture at the Battle Conference - East Sussex, Battle, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Jul 20162 Aug 2016


ConferenceLecture at the Battle Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Norman Conquest
  • 1066
  • Edward the Confessor
  • Edgar the Aetheling

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