was obviously a fifth columnist
EDWARD THE CONFESSOR was obviously a "fifth-columnist." Sent into exile as a child by the Danish conquerors of England. Edward had received his education in Normandy and as a consequence became Pro-Norman. Recalled from exile and crowned King of England, he gave the chief offices in Church and State to his Norman friends and it required a threat of civil war on the part of the English Earls to get the foreigners (including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London) driven out of the island.
The king introduced into England the Norman manner of writing which the English could not rend, and the French language which they could not understand. Moreover he took a vow of chastity and failed to beget an heir to succeed his crown.
These "fifth-coleirrin" methods worked admirably. On the Holy King's death, William the bastard Duke of Normandy invaded England and discovered the foundations for Norman rule already laid.
Norman Agent, but Great Patriot Yes, Edward the Confessor was certainly the agent of the Normans, but that does not mean that he was not a great patriot. He was a great Christian patriot and his love of family and race was second to his love of Christ and the Church.
When, as a young man he was in exile in Normandy he was urged to invade England and to seize the crown which
was his by right of inheritance. He refused saying, " I would not accept the greatest of monarchies if it were to cost the blood of a single man."
This sounds like Pacifism but it wasn't. He was a Christian and he judged that the laws of inheritance did not justify war. Later, when he had been "elected king with the consent of the clergy and laity " and solemnly consecrated and crowned by Archbishop Edsy he did not hesitate to send an army against the Welsh because they had disturbed the peace of his realm which it was his duty as a consecrated king to preserve. He would meet force with force for the preservation of peace and justice, yet it was his singular fortune to prepare the English for a foreign conquest.
King's Duty Was it the king's duty to isolate his realm from the "foreign " culture of the Continent, to insure the continuance of the Saxon line of Kings, to prevent the rule of the kingdom from falling into foreign hands?
To answer such questions one roust remember that the mediaeval theory of kingship was very different from the despotic theories which the Renaissance Tudors nourished and very different from those various forms of national government which have succeeded the collapse of absolute monarchy.
In the time of St. Edward, Christendom was a reality. ALI Europe was the Domain of Christ and all the people of Europe lived under the laws of Christ. Christ's Empire was presided over by His vicars or vice-regents, the Pope and the Emperor. The various races which composed this European Christian Empire were ruled by their kings who acknowledged the Pope as their spiritual leader and the Emperor as their temporal leader. The National kings were not therefore absolute rulers of entirely independent states but their rule was limited by the laws of Christ arid by the laws which hound all Christians to preserve the unity of Christendom.
A king who was also a Saint was therefore the lost person who would cherish the idea of isolating his realm from the main current of Christian life and culture, or who would regard any Christian culture as " foreign," A holy king of the eleventh century would have understood his duty to bring his people into ever closer unity with the neighbouring nations and so strengthen the unity of Christendom.
Why it Broke Down
Unhappily few Christian kings were saints and thus few had the high ideals and wide vision of St. Edward, so that in the course of time the great ideal of the universal Christian Empire, destined to embrace the entire human race, gave way before the petty interests of nationalism and individualism, until, the supernational authority of Pope and Emperor being denied, the Christian people of Europe were flung into barbaric wars with each other for individual or national interests, the evils of which still afflict us.
That St. Edward saw nothing wrong, but on the contrary something desirable in placing " foreign " rulers over his people is evident by his deeds. The introduction of Norman discipline, learning and manners appears very beneficial if we arc to believe the picture which Mathew Paris. paints of the Saxons of St. Edward's time "The noblemen giving themselves to gluttony and lecherielying in their chambers dallying with women did hear the Priest hastily rattell up Divine service "—clerks could neither read nor write, monks made a mockery of their rule and were " both finelie apparelled and meetelie well fed "—the common people were robbed and sold into slavery and practised harlotry and " all men in generall gave themselves to drinking and gulsing night and day "— " at night they forced themselves to sufet and drank till they vomited."
Norman Discipline The strict discipline of Norman Bishops and Abbots was St. Edward's remedy for this decadent state of his people and perhaps he thought that the realm would be better governed after his death by a Norman than a Saxon king. According to our ancient historians the king was endowed with the gift of prophecy and the eventual Anglia Norman union may have been quite obvious to him. The vision which was granted to him as he lay dying seems to me to sum up the thoughts which had always been at the back of his mind. In this vision two of the friends of his youth whom he had known in Normandy appeared to him and said
Forasmuch as the Princes, Dukes, Bishops, and Abhors of England are not the servants of God but of the devil. therefore God will within a year and a day deliver the kingdom into the hand of the enemy.
The king answered that he would repeat this to his people that they might repent and obtain mercy.
It will he of no purpose—they replied—for they will not repent, nor will God have mercy on them.
Devil Danced on Gold of Taxes One of the king's most popular acts was the abolition of heavy taxation. The story is told that when visiting his Treasury he saw the devil dancing on top of the gold which his taxgatherers had collected and he promptly ordered it to he redistributed amongst his people. Would it not have been better, modern nationalists might say, to have spent the money on fortifying the south coast against the Normans rather than to have returned it to his drunken subjects?
But the ideals of modern nationalism and separatism were the very opposite to the ideals of Christian Imperialism and unity which ruled the Confessor's heart.
The greatest of the king's works was his code of Laws—" The most just laws of the good kind Edward" which were the reason for the peace and justice which characterize his reign and upon which English common law was built up, and his great memorial is Westminster Abbey, the first building put up in this island in the " foreign " Norman style.
This Benedictine Abbey wherein all our kings have been crowned since St. Edward's time, is itself a perpetual reminder of that ideal of Christian unity which filled St. Edward's heart for not only was it built because a vow which the king had made to go on pilgrimage to Rome had had to be abandoned but it was dedicated to St. Peter, the first bishop of Rome and was made subject to the Pope alone, neither king, nor Archbishop of Canterbury nor Bishop of London having any right to enter it nor to meddle with its affairs without permission of its Abbot or the Pope.
Little Bit of Rome in Westminster The Confessor thus established within the precincts of the palace of Westminster what amounted to an independent slate under the direct supervision of the Pope and it was within this church, independent of the State in which it was built, a little bit of Rome situated in Westminster, that St. Edward desired his royal
successors to be crowned and to be
buried, and where he was himself entombed a few days after its consecration.
King Edward. the Norman " agent," was called after his death " The glory of England." Within a century of the Norman Conquest he was canonised by Pope Innocent and given the title of " Confessor." During the next 500 years he was regarded as Patron of the King dom, his effigy appeared on the great Seal of England, his banner was carried into battle and the English war-cry was " Si. Edward for England." All subsequent kings were crowned in King Edward's church beside his tomb, they wore St. Edward's crown and carried St. Edward's sceptre and they swore to grant and to keep the laws and customs of the glorious Si. Edward their pi edecessor, and when they died, they and their Queens were buried its close as possible to the tomb of " the glory of England."
Saints of Liberty The outstanding characteristic of the Saints of England has been their struggle to uphold the liberty of the Church. They fully realized that only by the submission of rulers to the law of Christ could the liberty of individuals be safeguarded agairist the slave rule absolute monarchy or the totalitarian state.
lhomas of Canterbury and St. Edward the Confessor are among the greatest of the Saints of England and all of them are famous for their efforts to maintain and strengthen the Kingdom of Christ against the onslaughts of the secular power, hut it was to St. Edward the Confessor more than to any of the others that Englishmen, until the sixteenth century. owed the liberty which they enjoyed tinder the rule of Christian Kings and the tradition of that Christian rule has survived the despotism of the Tudors and has influenced the government of the realm until the present time.
St. Anselin, St. Dunstan, St. Edmund of Abingdon, St. Hugh of Lincoln, St.