Edward, the eldest son of Ethelred the Unready, king of England, was born in Islip in Oxfordshire in about 1003. Edward's mother, Emma of Normandy, was the daughter of Richard, Duke of Normandy.

After the death of Ethelred the Unready in 1016, the throne of England passed to Canute the Great. The new king married Emma of Normandy and the couple had a son, Hardicanute.

Edward spent the first part of his life in Normandy. He held deep religious convictions and became known as Edward the Confessor. When Hardicanute became king of England in 1040, he recalled his half-brother to the English court.

In 1042, Hardicanute died of convulsions at a drinking party. Edward now became king and one of his first acts was to deprive his mother, Emma of Normandy, of all her estates. Anglo-Saxon chroniclers claimed that Edward had done this because he felt he had been neglected by his mother as a child.

For the first years of his reign English political life was dominated by Godwin of Wessex, Leofric of Mercia and Siward of Northumbria. Godwin became the most important of these when Edward married his daughter Edith in 1045.

Edward, 1042-1066 William I, 1066-1087 William II, 1087-1100 Henry I, 1100-1135 Stephen, 1135-1154 Henry II, 1154-1189 Richard I, 1189-1199 John, 1199-1216 Henry III, 1216-1272 Edward I, 1272-1307 Edward II, 1307-1327 Edward III, 1327-1377 Richard II, 1377-1399 Henry IV, 1399-1413 Henry V, 1413-1422 Henry VI, 1422-1461 Edward IV, 1461-1483 Edward V, 1483-1483 Richard III, 1483-1485 Henry VII, 1485-1509 Henry VIII, 1509-1547 Edward VI, 1547-1553 Mary, 1553-1558 Elizabeth I, 1558-1603 James I, 1603-1625 Charles I, 1625-1649 Charles II, 1660-1685 James II, 1685-1688 Mary II, 1688-1694 William III, 1688-1702 Anne, 1702-1714 George I, 1714-1727 George II, 1727-1760 George III, 1760-1820 George IV, 1820-1830 William IV, 1830-1837 Victoria, 1837-1901 Edward VII, 1901-1910 George V, 1910-1936 Edward VIII, 1936 George VI, 1936-1952