Event One – The punishment of Emma
Upon being crowned king during Easter of 1043, Edward immediately set out for Winchester with his three most powerful earls: Godwin, Leofricand Siward. Winchester was an area of land controlled by Emma and was also her home. It was at Winchester that Emma, Edward’s mother, held the royal treasury in her possession.
Edward - who must have ridden with a large force of soldiers - took the wealth from Emma as would have been expected; it was, after all, the royal treasury. Significantly he also removed Emma’s lands and rights as Queen, thoroughly removing her from all power and influence.
Emma was later reinstated to her lands in Winchester but seemingly never enjoyed the same amount of power as she once had.
When Edward was crowned he had to always consider the three powerful earls; Siward, Leofric and Godwin. Godwin, in particular was a problem because he was wealthy, ambitious, experienced, cunning and determined to hold onto as much power as he could gather in the name of his family. Edward married Edith Godwin, the daughter of earl Godwin and thus the earl gathered more power for his family. This may show the weakness of Edward, a naïve move to attempt to control Godwin or a clever move to secure relations with a family that he might need on his side.
Edith is then hardly mentioned in any of the contemporary sources from the period, until the Godwins are exiled in 1051. At this point Edward forces his wife to live in an abbey with no servants or wealth – it must have been a huge and fairly cruel shock for a lady used the life of a queen.
When the Godwins return from exile Edith is invited back to Edward’s side and, towards the end of his reign, Edith has a greater hand in ruling the country. She is witness to many writs and charters, whilst Edward appears to concentrate his energy on building Westminster Abbey.
SweynGodwinson was made earl of Hereford – a minor earldom – at the start of the reign of Edward. He was the eldest son of earl Godwin and to begin with he seemed to do a good job.
However in 1046/47 Sweyn went to fight alongside the King of Wales, a bizarre move for an English earl that could have been seen as fighting alongside an enemy of England. On his way back he kidnapped the Abbess of Leominster (a very religious lady) and probably intended to marry her so that he could gain the vast lands controlled by her. The king was clearly outraged; Sweyn had basically kidnapped a very important nun. Sweyn was banished.
Sweyn returned with a force of men, landed in England, gained the support of a cousin, inexplicably, brutally murdered the same cousin and was outlawed again. Edward declared Sweyn ‘nithing’ which meant a ‘man without honour’ and was an insult reserved for only the nastiest pieces of work.
Bizarrely, and perhaps due to the influence and power of earl Godwin, despite all of this Sweyn was restored to his earldom of Hereford in 1050. He was banished again along with the rest of his family in 1051.
Throughout many years of his reign Edward maintained a navy that could patrol the coast of England. This was (and still is) a very expensive choice to make and at times, when Edward felt particularly threatened he would pay for the navy to increase in size. When he took the throne, one way in which Godwin gained favour with the new king was to buy Edward a huge, modern war ship. This seemed to have helped to smooth over some of the cracks as a result of the murder of Alfred because Edward agreed to marry Godwin’s daughter.
When the Welsh and Scottish caused trouble, as they did at various times during the reign of Edward, Edward sent his earls to put down the trouble. Whilst king, it is said that Edward never travelled further north than Gloucester, which is only slightly further north than London.He usually send one or a number of Godwin’s sons to fight the Welsh and relied on Siward to control the Scots.