Ruling the Kingdom, 1042–1066
DOI link for Ruling the Kingdom, 1042–1066
Ruling the Kingdom, 1042–1066 book
At the summit of the political mountain was the king himself. His office, exemplified by Old Testament models such as David and Solomon, was divinely-sanctioned, and he was set apart from ordinary men when he was consecrated with holy oils at his coronation. Edward the Confessor, indeed, was the first English king to be credited with healing powers, when he cured a woman with a disfiguring throat complaint and restored the sight of several blind men. These acts were more reflections of Edward’s sanctity than his regality, but there was a spiritual dimension to the king’s power which corresponded to his principal duties: protecting the Church and defending his people. The Church needed his help against heathens and exploiters; his people needed it against criminals and hostile armies. To fulfil his obligations, the theoretical powers in the king’s armoury were extensive. All public authority was derived from him; only he could make laws which purported to apply across the whole kingdom; only he could mint coins; only he could raise taxation for national purposes; only he could raise armies for national defence. He
controlled economic activity and trade to a significant extent, and he made foreign policy. By the second half of the eleventh century, too, there was developing the concept of a ‘national peace’ which it was the king’s duty to keep and preserve.