The Deathbed Prophecy of King Edward the Confessor, 1066   20 comments

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King Edward the Confessor

“During the month of January, 1066, the holy King of England St. Edward the Confessor was confined to his bed by his last illness in his royal Westminster Palace. St. Ælred, Abbott of Rievaulx, in Yorkshire, relates that a short time before his happy death, this holy king was wrapt in ecstasy, when two pious Benedictine monks of Normandy, whom he had known in his youth, during his exile in that country, appeared to him, and revealed to him what was to happen to England in future centuries, and the cause of the terrible punishment. They said: ‘The extreme corruption and wickedness of the English nation has provoked the just anger of God. When malice shall have reached the fullness of its measure, God will, in His wrath, send to the English people wicked spirits, who will punish and afflict them with great severity, by separating the green tree from its parent stem the length of three furlongs. But at last this same tree, through the compassionate mercy of God, and without any national (governmental) assistance, shall return to its original root, reflourish and bear abundant fruit.’ After having heard these prophetic words, the saintly King Edward opened his eyes, returned to his senses, and the vision vanished. He immediately related all he had seen and heard to his virgin spouse, Edgitha, to Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, and to Harold, his successor to the throne, who were in his chamber praying around his bed.”

Here is the prophecy in verse:

“The green tree which springs from the trunk
When thence it shall be severed
And removed to a distance of three acres
By no engine or hand of man
Shall return to its original trunk
And shall join itself to its root
Whence first it had origin
The head shall receive again its verdure
It shall bear fruit after its flower
Then shall you be able for certainty
To hope for amendment.”
 

From what I can see in this prophecy/vision by King Edward, the Norman Invasion of 1066 was God’s wrath on the wickedness of the English people because the Christian church had become so corrupt.  After being chastened by the Lord for three hundred years (“And removed to a distance of three acres”), the Lord would bring England back to its Christian foundations.  In 1382, John Wycliffe completed his translation of the English Bible from the Latin Vulgate.  Now the English people could begin to read the Scriptures for themselves.  1382 is a little more than three hundred years removed from 1066.

So why did I discover the prophecy of King Edward today?  It is a mirror of what is happening to the United States in 2014 (and probably for the past forty years) because there is so much sin (like abortion, homosexuality and earth worship) in this country.
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1066:  The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth, page 47:
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“In the first days of the New Year, the King’s coma or sleep was interrupted by periods of delirium, and on 4 January he was distressingly restless, though still unconscious.  They tried to rouse him from his uneasy sleep, and succeeded.  When he awoke, he asked them to assemble his household and a few more people came into the room:  we are not told who they were.  Then he began to speak in a strong voice.  But instead of telling them what they needed to know, he gave them a long account of a dream.  He had met two monks he had known in Normandy, who were long since dead.  They had told him that for wickedness of the earls and churchmen of England God had cursed the country:  a year and a day after his death, devils would come through the land with fire and sword and war.  God would only cease to punish England when a green tree, felled half-way up its trunk and the part cut off taken three furlongs away, should join itself together again by its own efforts, without the aid of man, and break into leaf and fruit again.”
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A scene from the Bayeux Tapestry

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20 responses to “The Deathbed Prophecy of King Edward the Confessor, 1066

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  1. In my opinion it sounds as if this King (who was reputed to be violent and less than holy) was most likely put up to this by the Catholic church for the Catholic churches purposes. I am feeling that God did not really play a part in this as much as He allowed it to take place for His own purposes. Yep, the Father is doing just that today as well…He is stepping back and allowing the darkness to enter in. Since that is what the majority seem to want…more darkness and less of Yahweh’s light. I do not think they will like their choices in the end though. Yah bless brother:)

  2. Sharon: Back in 1066, all Christians were called Catholic. We can’t define a Christian by the organization they belong to; I myself don’t care about denominations, I do care if someone truly abides in Christ or not.

    I believe, from what I have read, that King Edward the Confessor was a devoted Christian. I don’t think he was the problem in England. The problem in England at the time was that the Christian church was corrupt. I believe the vision/prophecy that King Edward had was from the Lord as a warning about the coming invasion of the Norman French later that year. I think it is fascinating that John Wycliffe came on the scene three hundred years after this prophecy. John Wycliffe wanted the common people to be able to read the Bible in their own language (which was revolutionary at the time). After Wycliffe died, the Catholic church excommunicated him and persecuted his followers.

    To most historians, the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 is one of the biggest events in English history. I would say that the Synod of Whitby in 664 AD was pivotal because it was then that the Christian church in England gave up the Celtic tradition and submitted to the Roman tradition—and I believe this was the beginning of a gradual downfall of Christianity in England.

    Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, 634-687 AD
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuthbert

    The Life and Miracles of Cuthbert
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/bede-cuthbert.asp

    Synod of Whitby, 664 AD
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synod_of_Whitby

    First Viking Raid in England, 789 or 793 AD
    http://www.lindisfarne.org.uk/793/

    • Not all Christians…Byzantine Empire, Bulgaria, Serbian principalities, Russian Ducate of Kiev were all Greek Orthodox. More than 30 million people in total through the 11 century.

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  4. Do you have a book or two on church history that you most recommend?

  5. Mark: I can’t think of a specific book, but the Venerable Bede of England wrote a lot of history. You can probably find Bede’s works somewhere on the internet. Hall Worthington has an excellent website: he deals with the life and writings of the Quakers in 1600s England: http://www.hallvworthington.com/

    Here is a post you may want to read: http://tim-shey.blogspot.com/2010/10/john-milton-writer-and-revolutionary.html

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  7. Hi – I’m an early medieval historian, and I wandered onto this site looking for a good edition of the Vita Aedwardi. I found your post interesting. Just for your information, Edward the Confessor was likely homosexual himself, and this was the reason for his “chaste” marriage and lack of offspring with Edith, who had him sanctified after his death as part of a propaganda push to quell accusations about her own adultery. It’s a fascinating time of history, and rarely as simple as a good/evil dichotomy.

  8. Your interpretation of St Edward’s dream does not stand up to scrutiny. After Edward died there was a huge revival of the faith in this nation with hundreds of monasteries and convents being built. At one point 1 in 50 people gave their life to Christ by serving in religious orders. That is not a nation in sin!
    In 1534 Henry VIII destroyed the majority of Churches, together with monasteries and convents and declared himself head of the Church in England. The Catholic Church was somewhat forbidden until 1850, just over 300 years later. During this 300 year period England suffered a mini ice age!!
    There are currently many prophecies indicating the revival of the faith in this nation following this 300 year exile. Indeed, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the reformation in Germany and the exile is over!

    • Building monasteries and convents is not the same thing as a Holy Ghost revival. The human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, not a man-made building. Serving in religious orders does not make you a Christian.

  9. There is an interesting theory that links the dream of St Edward to Byzantium. The Great Schism between the Latin and Orthodox church – over the Popes’ insistence on primacy over all the other bishops on matters of theology, notably the Filioque innovation to the Creed -occurred around AD1200. So, at the time of the Norman conquest, English and French Christians were still Orthodox Christians. The Normans achieved what the Vikings had not – they destroyed Saxon society, expropriating all property and hereditary estates and imposing new laws and language. Saxon nobility fled to France, but there are also interesting Byzantine records of many English nobles – refugees, really – arriving in Constantinople at this time to become military professionals and clerics. Shortly after 1066, the Great Schism cut Western Europe off from its Orthodox roots, leading directly to the Reformation (which was a reaction against the Latin innovations). The “three acres” is a mystery – certainly there seems no subsequent flowering and fruiting from then until now of any Christianity or royal Saxon line which could relate to pre-Norman Christianity or royalty. But there are definite parallels with the dream (Daniel 34) of Nebuchadnezzar of a tall, fruitful tree cut off at the roots, and then re-growing after seven years, which Daniel explained signified the kings descent into madness for seven years. At the end of that time, he would return to his right mind, stand upright and look to heaven and acknowledge God’s power over heaven and earth. Which came to pass, on the very day Nebuchadnezzar was congratulating himself on finishing building a temple to the Lord – as St Edward had just done, in Westminster Abbey.

    Katherine van der Lee
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  12. I really appreciate you sharing this.

  13. A furlong is 220 yards. If we are to suppose that a furlong represents a year, then the duration of the period would be 660 years, not 300.

    An acre is 4840 square yards. This is one furlong (220 yards) in length by one chain (22 yards) in width = 4840 square yards. Thus since the acre is defined as one furlong by one chain, that explains how the poem refers to the length concerned as one acre instead of one furlong. I conjecture that the measure one furlong by one chain was associated with medieval strip farming; but a specialist on medieval strip farming would be required to confirm or deny that idea. However it is clear the the acre (a unit of area) is identified with a distance (the furlong) by the above relationship, so the poem’s reference to ‘three acres’ rather than ‘three furlongs’ makes sense in that context.

    The prophecy was to begin a year and a day after Edward’s death (i.e. it would begin on 6 January 1067; the end of Epiphany). This is very close to the date when William began to build the Tower of London, then a genuine castle and his military power base. I find it credible that he would have begun building on 7th so that all could avoid impiety by building during Epiphany; but this guess calls for a historian’s view.

    During 1069 to 1070 his knights carried out a campaign known as the Harrying of the North, during which large parts of Northern England were subjected to a campaign of genocide and the deliberate destruction of farmland:

    Wikipedia:
    “The Anglo-Norman chronicler Orderic Vitalis wrote (summarized):
    The King stopped at nothing to hunt his enemies. He cut down many people and destroyed homes and land. Nowhere else had he shown such cruelty. This made a real change. To his shame, William made no effort to control his fury, punishing the innocent with the guilty. He ordered that crops and herds, tools and food be burned to ashes. More than 100,000 people perished of starvation.”

    This is a far more realistic claim to the line “a year and a day after his death, devils would come through the land with fire and sword and war” than to use the Battle of Hastings as a reference point. That was one battle between relatively small forces in one place -pivotal to English history as it was. The Harrying of the North fits the above quote far better; in those days 100,000 was a large proportion of the population of Northern England. One might figuratively say this and other depravities committed by William have a true beginning in the establishment of his military power base; the Tower of London.

    Adding 660 years to 1067 we reach 1727, the year George the Second became king. This is not to say that the prophecy was genuine or to say this is the only interpretation, but unless the definition of ‘furlong’ has changed since 1066, it has no association with the number 100.

    Whether this is a true prophecy or not, I suspect that this is how it would have been interpreted by those present, if they were familiar with the Hebrew prophets in Latin translation (which we cannot be sure of by any means).

    Speaking as an Englishman, if I was asked to date when Britain came to prominence in the world, 1727 is probably a good rough estimate. However a real historian would be able to give a better assessment.

  14. If instead we look at the three dynasties which followed William, rather than the period of 660 years, we find that this would expire with the beginning of the Tudor dynasty.

    Edward IV was the first king of England since the Norman Conquest to marry one of his subjects, Elizabeth Woodville, and their daughter Elizabeth of York was wife to the first Tudor king, Henry VII – a Welshman. At this point the Welsh, who were the inhabitants of Britain before the Saxons drove them into Wales and Cornwall (Edward the Confessor being the penultimate Saxon king), the English and the Normans were united in one family – the Tudors, in the person of Henry VIII.

    if a connection was to be sought between the sins of England and a solution after three dynasties, the Reformation and the establishment of the Church of England are THE defining point in the change of British religious history.

    In summary, I find the association between dynasties and furlongs far more convincing than that between furlongs and 200 year periods. In Henry VIII we have a true unification of the Normans and the people they had subjugated, the Saxons and the Welsh; and at that point British history took an enormous change of direction that remains pivotal to this day.

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