Why were the crises of 1051 and 1052 significant? Essay
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It is without doubt that the crises of 1051-52 played a significant role in Britain’s history. The crises not only led to the contradicting and confusing saga over the successor to Edward’s throne but also to the ongoing powerful reign of the Godwin Family in the country’s history for a generation. There were four main factors in which to argue whether the crises were in fact significant.
Theses were the constant feuds with Edward and Godwin which both humour and confuse historians even today, the opinion that the King was really only king in name and did not have any real authority over the country, the sudden explosion of Godwins’ into the key positions in England and of course the matter of who was entitled to King Edward’s throne.
The crises of 1051 and 1052 can be probably put down to two main characters, whom held very important positions in how the country was run.
King Edward and Godwin had an ongoing feud since the day they first came into contact with each other. Ever since, they were constantly snapping at each other’s heels and basically trying to win minuscule battles over the other one. The crises were very significant in that they inevitably brought the relentless vendetta to a head. The key factor in this argument was the death of Edward’s brother Alfred in 1036. Alfred, whilst on a conquest with Edward, was captured and handed over to his death by Godwin as an offering to Cnut. This sparked outrage between the two from then on.
As McLynn puts it, “Edward still blamed Godwin for Alfred’s death and hated him for it. ” So already we can build up a picture of an almost very weary and cautious relationship, constantly wondering if Edward is ever going to seek his revenge. In response Godwin did what he probably did best and passed the blame onto HarthaCnut. Godwin, like Edward, was very much a family man. He tried desperately to get his family in major roles in the running of the country. But it was more then likely this fault of caring too much for his family that caused another row between the two.
Godwin’s eldest, Swein, to put it in a nutshell, was bizarre. Swein was made an exile from the country by Edward for raping a nun and holding her hostage. Godwin tried for many a year to have his son returned and forgiven. However McLynn quotes Edward only had one opinion on the matter and that was that he “He cordially loathed Swein. ” Swein and Godwin together tried every trick in the book to have him returned to England but Edward refused. Not for the first time this then led to another dispute.