Edward the Confessor : King of England
Edward the Confessor was the son of King Aethelred the Unready of the House of Wessex. The family was exiled to Normandy when the Danish invaded England in 1013 but, with the nation in crisis on the death of King Harthacnut twenty-nine years later, Edward was named King of England, restoring the throne to English rule. Often portrayed as a holy simpleton, Edward was in fact a wily and devious king. For most kings a childless marriage would have been an Achilles' heel, but Edward turned it to his advantage. He cunningly played off his potential rivals and successors, using the prize of the throne as leverage. Though his reign was peaceful, his death would wreak havoc. Bloody wars were waged, two claimants were cut down and William the Conqueror earned his name. Edward's posthumous reputation grew as stories were spread by the monks of his magnificent foundation, Westminster Abbey. The childless king was transformed into a chaste, pious and holy man. Miracles were attributed to him and he was credited with the King's Touch - the ability to cure illnesses by touch alone. In 1161 he was canonised as Saint Edward the Confessor and to this day he remains the patron saint of the royal family.