On This Day
1066 – Edward the Confessor dies childless, sparking a succession crisis that will eventually lead to the Norman conquest of England.
Edward the Confessor[a] (Old English: Ēadƿeard Andettere [æːɑdwæɑrˠd ɑndetere]; Latin: Eduardus Confessor [ɛ.dʊˈar.dʊs kɔ̃ˈfɛs.sɔr]; c. 1003 – 5 January 1066), also known as Saint Edward the Confessor, was among the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England. Usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex, he ruled from 1042 to 1066.
The son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, Edward succeeded Cnut the Great’s son – and his own half brother – Harthacnut, restoring the rule of the House of Wessex after the period of Danish rule since Cnut (better known as Canute) conquered England in 1016. When Edward died in 1066, he was succeeded by Harold Godwinson, who was defeated and killed in the same year by the Normans under William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. Edgar the Ætheling, who was of the House of Wessex, was proclaimed king after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, but never ruled and was deposed after about eight weeks.
Historians disagree about Edward’s fairly long (24-year) reign. His nickname reflects the traditional image of him as unworldly and pious. Confessor reflects his reputation as a saint who did not suffer martyrdom, as opposed to King Edward the Martyr. Some portray Edward the Confessor’s reign as leading to the disintegration of royal power in England and the advance in power of the House of Godwin, due to the infighting that began after his heirless death. Biographers Frank Barlow and Peter Rex, on the other hand, portray Edward as a successful king, one who was energetic, resourceful and sometimes ruthless; they argue that the Norman conquest shortly after his death tarnished his image. However, Richard Mortimer argues that the return of the Godwins from exile in 1052 “meant the effective end of his exercise of power”, citing Edward’s reduced activity as implying “a withdrawal from affairs”.
About a century later, in 1161, Pope Alexander III canonised the late king. Saint Edward was one of England’s national saints until King Edward III adopted Saint George as the national patron saint in about 1350. Saint Edward’s feast day is 13 October, celebrated by both the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
Born On This Day
1855 – King Camp Gillette, American businessman, founded the Gillette Company (d. 1932)
King Camp Gillette (January 5, 1855 – July 9, 1932) was an American businessman. He invented a best selling version of the safety razor. Several models were in existence before Gillette’s design. Gillette’s innovation was the thin, inexpensive, disposable blade of stamped steel. Gillette is widely credited with inventing the so-called razor and blades business model, where razors are sold cheaply to increase the market for blades, but in fact he only adopted this model after his competitors did.
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