The death of Edward the Confessor on 5 January 1066 brought an effective end to England’s line of Saxon kings. It also opened the door on a violent succession struggle, a struggle that culminated in the conquest of England by William of Normandy. Edward was born into the House of Wessex, the same house into which Alfred the Great had been born several generations earlier. Alfred had begun the stability that allowed England to expand and strengthen but Edward would be responsible for effectuating Saxon England’s end. The increasing Danish invasions during the early 11th century had forced Edward’s mother...

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