‘When Edward Succeeded the Throne of England His Disadvantages Outweighed His Advantages’. to What Extent Do You Agree with This Statement?

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Edward the Confessor’s succession to the throne of England has never been considered a straightforward one. He did after all have a multitude of factors working against him. To name but a few Edward, though being descended from the noble and royal house of Wessex, had the terrible reputation of his father, Ethelred the ‘Unread’ to overcome. It is also known that he spent over twenty years of his life in exile within the Danish governed Normandy, meaning therefore that Edward had little if any inside knowledge of the English court and its all-powerful Witan. This made his position a weak one, forcing Edward to bind himself to Godwin, as the Earl of Wessex and most powerful man in England at this time. Earl Godwin was the only member of the witan offering to support Edward. The reasons for this are unclear though it is likely Godwin felt that he could exert influence over the inexperienced King and therefore gain yet more power over England. Despite the odds being stacked against him, Edward took the English throne from the Danish royal family and established himself as a strong and wise King. Clearly his success had to be dependant on a number of weighty advantages, his growing up in Exile for example. Whilst condemned as a disadvantage, historians today argue that this difficult upbringing imbued within Edward the exact qualities a King is required to have. Frank Barlowe suggests that these include “tenacity and resilience, making him – Edward – accustomed to sudden shifts in fortune as well as developing opportunism, flexibility, patience and an understanding of human nature”. If we assume Barlowe’s interpretation of Edward’s exile is correct then it is reasonable to suggest that Edward already had the qualities of an excellent King within him as a result of his harsh treatment. Another, perhaps less obvious advantage to Edward’s succession is Earl Godwin’s
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