Friday 2 October 2015

Saint Edward the Confessor

Until about 1350, Edmund the Martyr, Gregory the Great and Edward the Confessor had all been regarded as English national saints, but Edward III preferred the more war-like figure of St George, and in 1348 he established the Order of the Garter with St George as its patron. It seems however, that Edward the Confessor remained the Patron Saint of the English Royal Family.

The 13th of October is set down by the Church as the feast day for St. Edward the Confessor and, as we approach the appointed day, I have been giving some thought to adding this feast day to my list of “flag flying days” (I was Christened in St. Edward’s Church, Leek, so it seems appropriate to add it). However, I have never been too fond of the attributed arms of Edward the Confessor (1003 – 1066); they have always ever so slightly troubled me.

Though never actually used by Edward (heraldry did not exist at that time), they were created several centuries after his death, probably by, or for, Richard II, in the late 1300’s, when he used the coat as part of his own achievement. It is thought that the design supposedly was inspired by the reverse of one of Edward the Confessor’s coins which had a cross with a martlet in each quadrant. If that is the case, and I have no reason to doubt that it, why on earth did the designer add that extra martlet which, in my humble opinion, completely unbalances the shield and is completely unnecessary.

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