Mary of Scotland

Female 1082 - 1116  (34 years)

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  1. 1.  Mary of Scotland was born 1082 (daughter of Malcom III of Scotland, King of Scots and Margaret of Wessex); died 1116.

    Mary — Eustace III, Count of Boulogne. Eustace (son of Eustace II, Count of Boulogne and Ida of Lorraine) was born Bef 1058, (Boulogne, France); died ~1125. [Group Sheet]

    1. Matilda of Boulogne was born ~1105; died 3 May 1152.

Generation: 2

  1. 2.  Malcom III of Scotland, King of Scots was born 0___ 1031, Scotland; died 13 Nov 1093, Alnwick, Northumberland, England.


    Malcolm III (Gaelic: Mâael Coluim mac Donnchada; c. 26 March 1031 – 13 November 1093) was King of Scots from 1058 to 1093. He was later nicknamed "Canmore" ("ceann máor", Gaelic for "Great Chief": "ceann" denotes "leader", "head" (of state) and "máor" denotes "pre-eminent", "great", and "big").[1][2] Malcolm's long reign of 35 years preceded the beginning of the Scoto-Norman age.

    Malcolm's kingdom did not extend over the full territory of modern Scotland: the north and west of Scotland remained under Scandinavian, Norse-Gael, and Gaelic rule, and the territories under the rule of the Kings of Scots did not extend much beyond the limits established by Malcolm II until the 12th century. Malcolm III fought a series of wars against the Kingdom of England, which may have had as its objective the conquest of the English earldom of Northumbria. These wars did not result in any significant advances southward. Malcolm's primary achievement was to continue a lineage that ruled Scotland for many years,[3] although his role as founder of a dynasty has more to do with the propaganda of his youngest son David I and his descendants than with history.[4]

    Malcolm's second wife, St. Margaret of Scotland, is Scotland's only royal saint. Malcolm himself had no reputation for piety; with the notable exception of Dunfermline Abbey in Fife he is not definitely associated with major religious establishments or ecclesiastical reforms.

    King of Alba (Scots)
    Reign 1058–1093
    Coronation 25 April 1058?, Scone, Perth and Kinross
    Predecessor Lulach
    Successor Donald III
    Born c. 26 March 1031
    Died 13 November 1093
    Alnwick, Northumberland, England
    Burial Tynemouth Castle and Priory, then in Dunfermline Abbey
    Spouse Ingibiorg Finnsdottir
    St. Margaret of Scotland
    Issue Duncan II, King of Scots
    Edward, Prince of Scotland
    Edgar, King of Scots
    Alexander I, King of Scots
    David I, King of Scots
    Matilda, Queen of England
    Mary, Countess of Boulogne
    House Dunkeld
    Father Duncan I, King of Scots
    Mother Suthen

    Main article: Scotland in the High Middle Ages
    Malcolm's father Duncan I became king in late 1034, on the death of Malcolm II, Duncan's maternal grandfather and Malcolm's great-grandfather. According to John of Fordun, whose account is the original source of part at least of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Malcolm's mother was a niece of Siward, Earl of Northumbria,[5][6] but an earlier king-list gives her the Gaelic name Suthen.[7] Other sources claim that either a daughter or niece would have been too young to fit the timeline, thus the likely relative would have been Siward's own sister Sybil, which may have translated into Gaelic as Suthen.

    Duncan's reign was not successful and he was killed in battle with the men of Moray, led by Macbeth, on 15 August 1040. Duncan was young at the time of his death,[8] and Malcolm and his brother Donalbane were children.[9] Malcolm's family attempted to overthrow Macbeth in 1045, but Malcolm's grandfather Crâinâan of Dunkeld was killed in the attempt.[10]

    Soon after the death of Duncan his two young sons were sent away for greater safety—exactly where is the subject of debate. According to one version, Malcolm (then aged about nine) was sent to England,[11] and his younger brother Donalbane was sent to the Isles.[12][13] Based on Fordun's account, it was assumed that Malcolm passed most of Macbeth's seventeen-year reign in the Kingdom of England at the court of Edward the Confessor.[14][15] Today's British Royal family can trace their family history back to Malcolm III via his daughter Matilda.

    According to an alternative version, Malcolm's mother took both sons into exile at the court of Thorfinn Sigurdsson, Earl of Orkney, an enemy of Macbeth's family, and perhaps Duncan's kinsman by marriage.[16]

    An English invasion in 1054, with Siward, Earl of Northumbria in command, had as its goal the installation of one "Mâael Coluim, son of the king of the Cumbrians". This Mâael Coluim has traditionally been identified with the later Malcolm III.[17] This interpretation derives from the Chronicle attributed to the 14th-century chronicler of Scotland, John of Fordun, as well as from earlier sources such as William of Malmesbury.[18] The latter reported that Macbeth was killed in the battle by Siward, but it is known that Macbeth outlived Siward by two years.[19] A. A. M. Duncan argued in 2002 that, using the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry as their source, later writers innocently misidentified "Mâael Coluim" with the later Scottish king of the same name.[20] Duncan's argument has been supported by several subsequent historians specialising in the era, such as Richard Oram, Dauvit Broun and Alex Woolf.[21] It has also been suggested that Mâael Coluim may have been a son of Owain Foel, British king of Strathclyde[22] perhaps by a daughter of Malcolm II, King of Scotland.[23]

    In 1057 various chroniclers report the death of Macbeth at Malcolm's hand, on 15 August 1057 at Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire.[24][25] Macbeth was succeeded by his stepson Lulach, who was crowned at Scone, probably on 8 September 1057. Lulach was killed by Malcolm, "by treachery",[26] near Huntly on 23 April 1058. After this, Malcolm became king, perhaps being inaugurated on 25 April 1058, although only John of Fordun reports this.[27]

    Malcolm and Ingibiorg

    Late medieval depiction of Malcolm with MacDuff, from an MS (Corpus Christi MS 171) of Walter Bower's Scotichronicon
    If Orderic Vitalis is to be relied upon, one of Malcolm's earliest actions as king was to travel to the court of Edward the Confessor in 1059 to arrange a marriage with Edward's kinswoman Margaret, who had arrived in England two years before from Hungary.[28] If a marriage agreement was made in 1059, it was not kept, and this may explain the Scots invasion of Northumbria in 1061 when Lindisfarne was plundered.[29] Equally, Malcolm's raids in Northumbria may have been related to the disputed "Kingdom of the Cumbrians", reestablished by Earl Siward in 1054, which was under Malcolm's control by 1070.[30]

    The Orkneyinga saga reports that Malcolm married the widow of Thorfinn Sigurdsson, Ingibiorg, a daughter of Finn Arnesson.[31] Although Ingibiorg is generally assumed to have died shortly before 1070, it is possible that she died much earlier, around 1058.[32] The Orkneyinga Saga records that Malcolm and Ingibiorg had a son, Duncan II (Donnchad mac Maâil Coluim), who was later king.[33] Some Medieval commentators, following William of Malmesbury, claimed that Duncan was illegitimate, but this claim is propaganda reflecting the need of Malcolm's descendants by Margaret to undermine the claims of Duncan's descendants, the Meic Uilleim.[34] Malcolm's son Domnall, whose death is reported in 1085, is not mentioned by the author of the Orkneyinga Saga. He is assumed to have been born to Ingibiorg.[35]

    Malcolm's marriage to Ingibiorg secured him peace in the north and west. The Heimskringla tells that her father Finn had been an adviser to Harald Hardraade and, after falling out with Harald, was then made an Earl by Sweyn Estridsson, King of Denmark, which may have been another recommendation for the match.[36] Malcolm enjoyed a peaceful relationship with the Earldom of Orkney, ruled jointly by his stepsons, Paul and Erlend Thorfinnsson. The Orkneyinga Saga reports strife with Norway but this is probably misplaced as it associates this with Magnus Barefoot, who became king of Norway only in 1093, the year of Malcolm's death.[37]

    Malcolm and Margaret

    Malcolm and Margaret as depicted in a 16th-century armorial. Anachronistically, Malcolm's surcoat is embroidered with the royal arms of Scotland, which probably did not come into use until the time of William the Lion. Margaret's kirtle displays the supposed arms of her great-uncle Edward the Confessor, which were in fact invented in the 13th century, though they were based on a design which appeared on coins from his reign
    Although he had given sanctuary to Tostig Godwinson when the Northumbrians drove him out, Malcolm was not directly involved in the ill-fated invasion of England by Harald Hardraade and Tostig in 1066, which ended in defeat and death at the battle of Stamford Bridge.[38] In 1068, he granted asylum to a group of English exiles fleeing from William of Normandy, among them Agatha, widow of Edward the Confessor's nephew Edward the Exile, and her children: Edgar ¥theling and his sisters Margaret and Cristina. They were accompanied by Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria. The exiles were disappointed, however, if they had expected immediate assistance from the Scots.[39]

    In 1069 the exiles returned to England, to join a spreading revolt in the north. Even though Gospatric and Siward's son Waltheof submitted by the end of the year, the arrival of a Danish army under Sweyn Estridsson seemed to ensure that William's position remained weak. Malcolm decided on war, and took his army south into Cumbria and across the Pennines, wasting Teesdale and Cleveland then marching north, loaded with loot, to Wearmouth. There Malcolm met Edgar and his family, who were invited to return with him, but did not. As Sweyn had by now been bought off with a large Danegeld, Malcolm took his army home. In reprisal, William sent Gospatric to raid Scotland through Cumbria. In return, the Scots fleet raided the Northumbrian coast where Gospatric's possessions were concentrated.[40] Late in the year, perhaps shipwrecked on their way to a European exile, Edgar and his family again arrived in Scotland, this time to remain. By the end of 1070, Malcolm had married Edgar's sister Margaret of Wessex, the future Saint Margaret of Scotland.[41]

    The naming of their children represented a break with the traditional Scots regal names such as Malcolm, Cinâaed and Áed. The point of naming Margaret's sons—Edward after her father Edward the Exile, Edmund for her grandfather Edmund Ironside, Ethelred for her great-grandfather Ethelred the Unready and Edgar for her great-great-grandfather Edgar and her brother, briefly the elected king, Edgar ¥theling—was unlikely to be missed in England, where William of Normandy's grasp on power was far from secure.[42] Whether the adoption of the classical Alexander for the future Alexander I of Scotland (either for Pope Alexander II or for Alexander the Great) and the biblical David for the future David I of Scotland represented a recognition that William of Normandy would not be easily removed, or was due to the repetition of Anglo-Saxon royal name—another Edmund had preceded Edgar—is not known.[43] Margaret also gave Malcolm two daughters, Edith, who married Henry I of England, and Mary, who married Eustace III of Boulogne.

    In 1072, with the Harrying of the North completed and his position again secure, William of Normandy came north with an army and a fleet. Malcolm met William at Abernethy and, in the words of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle "became his man" and handed over his eldest son Duncan as a hostage and arranged peace between William and Edgar.[44] Accepting the overlordship of the king of the English was no novelty, as previous kings had done so without result. The same was true of Malcolm; his agreement with the English king was followed by further raids into Northumbria, which led to further trouble in the earldom and the killing of Bishop William Walcher at Gateshead. In 1080, William sent his son Robert Curthose north with an army while his brother Odo punished the Northumbrians. Malcolm again made peace, and this time kept it for over a decade.[45]

    Malcolm faced little recorded internal opposition, with the exception of Lulach's son Mâael Snechtai. In an unusual entry, for the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle contains little on Scotland, it says that in 1078:

    Malcholom [Mâael Coluim] seized the mother of Mµlslµhtan [Mâael Snechtai] ... and all his treasures, and his cattle; and he himself escaped with difficulty.[46]

    Whatever provoked this strife, Mâael Snechtai survived until 1085.[47]

    Malcolm and William Rufus

    William Rufus, "the Red", king of the English (1087–1100)
    When William Rufus became king of England after his father's death, Malcolm did not intervene in the rebellions by supporters of Robert Curthose which followed. In 1091, William Rufus confiscated Edgar ¥theling's lands in England, and Edgar fled north to Scotland. In May, Malcolm marched south, not to raid and take slaves and plunder, but to besiege Newcastle, built by Robert Curthose in 1080. This appears to have been an attempt to advance the frontier south from the River Tweed to the River Tees. The threat was enough to bring the English king back from Normandy, where he had been fighting Robert Curthose. In September, learning of William Rufus's approaching army, Malcolm withdrew north and the English followed. Unlike in 1072, Malcolm was prepared to fight, but a peace was arranged by Edgar ¥theling and Robert Curthose whereby Malcolm again acknowledged the overlordship of the English king.[48]

    In 1092, the peace began to break down. Based on the idea that the Scots controlled much of modern Cumbria, it had been supposed that William Rufus's new castle at Carlisle and his settlement of English peasants in the surrounds was the cause. It is unlikely that Malcolm controlled Cumbria, and the dispute instead concerned the estates granted to Malcolm by William Rufus's father in 1072 for his maintenance when visiting England. Malcolm sent messengers to discuss the question and William Rufus agreed to a meeting. Malcolm travelled south to Gloucester, stopping at Wilton Abbey to visit his daughter Edith and sister-in-law Cristina. Malcolm arrived there on 24 August 1093 to find that William Rufus refused to negotiate, insisting that the dispute be judged by the English barons. This Malcolm refused to accept, and returned immediately to Scotland.[49]

    It does not appear that William Rufus intended to provoke a war,[50] but, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports, war came:

    For this reason therefore they parted with great dissatisfaction, and the King Malcolm returned to Scotland. And soon after he came home, he gathered his army, and came harrowing into England with more hostility than behoved him ....[51]

    Malcolm was accompanied by Edward, his eldest son by Margaret and probable heir-designate (or tâanaiste), and by Edgar.[52] Even by the standards of the time, the ravaging of Northumbria by the Scots was seen as harsh.[53]


    Memorial cross said to mark the spot where King Malcolm III of Scotland was killed while besieging Alnwick Castle in 1093.
    While marching north again, Malcolm was ambushed by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria, whose lands he had devastated, near Alnwick on 13 November 1093. There he was killed by Arkil Morel, steward of Bamburgh Castle. The conflict became known as the Battle of Alnwick.[54] Edward was mortally wounded in the same fight. Margaret, it is said, died soon after receiving the news of their deaths from Edgar.[55] The Annals of Ulster say:

    Mael Coluim son of Donnchad, over-king of Scotland, and Edward his son, were killed by the French [i.e. Normans] in Inber Alda in England. His queen, Margaret, moreover, died of sorrow for him within nine days.[56]

    Malcolm's body was taken to Tynemouth Priory for burial. The king's body was sent north for reburial, in the reign of his son Alexander, at Dunfermline Abbey, or possibly Iona.[57]

    On 19 June 1250, following the canonisation of Malcolm's wife Margaret by Pope Innocent IV, Margaret's remains were disinterred and placed in a reliquary. Tradition has it that as the reliquary was carried to the high altar of Dunfermline Abbey, past Malcolm's grave, it became too heavy to move. As a result, Malcolm's remains were also disinterred, and buried next to Margaret beside the altar.[58]


    Malcolm and Ingibiorg had three sons:

    Duncan II of Scotland, succeeded his father as King of Scotland
    Donald, died ca.1094
    Malcolm, died ca.1085
    Malcolm and Margaret had eight children, six sons and two daughters:

    Edward, killed 1093
    Edmund of Scotland
    Ethelred, abbot of Dunkeld
    King Edgar of Scotland
    King Alexander I of Scotland
    King David I of Scotland
    Edith of Scotland, also called Matilda, married King Henry I of England
    Mary of Scotland, married Eustace III of Boulogne

    end of biography

    Malcom married Margaret of Wessex 0___ 1070. Margaret (daughter of Edward the Exile and Agatha) was born ~ 1045, Hungary; died 16 Nov 1093, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland; was buried Dunfermline Abbey, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. [Group Sheet]

  2. 3.  Margaret of WessexMargaret of Wessex was born ~ 1045, Hungary (daughter of Edward the Exile and Agatha); died 16 Nov 1093, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland; was buried Dunfermline Abbey, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.

    Other Events:

    • Also Known As: "The Pearl of Scotland"
    • Also Known As: Saint Margaret of Scotland


    Saint Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045 - 16 November 1093), also known as Margaret of Wessex, was an English princess and a Scottish queen. Margaret was sometimes called "The Pearl of Scotland".[1] Born in exile in the Kingdom of Hungary, she was the sister of Edgar ¥theling, the shortly reigned and uncrowned Anglo-Saxon King of England. Margaret and her family returned to the Kingdom of England in 1057, but fled to the Kingdom of Scotland following the Norman conquest of England in 1066. By the end of 1070, Margaret had married King Malcolm III of Scotland, becoming Queen of Scots. She was a very pious Roman Catholic, and among many charitable works she established a ferry across the Firth of Forth in Scotland for pilgrims travelling to St Andrews in Fife, which gave the towns of South Queensferry and North Queensferry their names. Margaret was the mother of three kings of Scotland, or four, if Edmund of Scotland, who ruled with his uncle, Donald III, is counted, and of a queen consort of England. According to the Vita S. Margaritae (Scotorum) Reginae (Life of St. Margaret, Queen (of the Scots)), attributed to Turgot of Durham, she died at Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1093, merely days after receiving the news of her husband's death in battle. In 1250 Pope Innocent IV canonized her, and her remains were reinterred in a shrine in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. Her relics were dispersed after the Scottish Reformation and subsequently lost. Mary, Queen of Scots at one time owned her head, which was subsequently preserved by Jesuits in the Scottish College, Douai, France, from where it was subsequently lost during the French Revolution.

    Queen consort of Scotland
    Tenure 1070-93
    Born c.?1045
    Kingdom of Hungary
    Died 16 November 1093
    Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Kingdom of Scotland
    Burial Dunfermline Abbey, Fife, Kingdom of Scotland
    Spouse Malcolm III, King of Scotland
    more... Edmund, Bishop of Dunkeld
    Edgar, King of Scotland
    Alexander I, King of Scotland
    David I, King of Scotland
    Matilda, Queen of England
    Mary, Countess of Boulogne
    House Wessex
    Father Edward the Exile
    Mother Agatha

    Early life

    Margaret from a medieval family tree.
    Margaret was the daughter of the English prince Edward the Exile, and granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, King of England.[1] After the Danish conquest of England in 1016, King Canute the Great had the infant Edward exiled to the continent. He was taken first to the court of the Swedish king, Olof Skèotkonung, and then to Kiev. As an adult, he travelled to Hungary, where in 1046 he supported the successful bid of King Andrew I for the Hungarian crown. King Andrew I was then also known as "Andrew the Catholic" for his extreme aversion to pagans and great loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church. The provenance of Margaret's mother, Agatha, is disputed, but Margaret was born in Hungary c. 1045. Her brother Edgar the ¥theling and sister Cristina were also born in Hungary around this time. Margaret grew up in a very religious environment in the Hungarian court.

    Return to England

    Still a child, she came to England with the rest of her family when her father, Edward the Exile, was recalled in 1057 as a possible successor to her great-uncle, the childless King Edward the Confessor. Whether from natural or sinister causes, her father died immediately after landing, and Margaret continued to reside at the English court where her brother, Edgar ¥theling, was considered a possible successor to the English throne.[1] When Edward the Confessor died in January 1066, Harold Godwinson was selected as king, possibly because Edgar was considered too young. After Harold's defeat at the Battle of Hastings later that year, Edgar was proclaimed King of England, but when the Normans advanced on London, the Witenagemot presented Edgar to William the Conqueror, who took him to Normandy before returning him to England in 1068, when Edgar, Margaret, Cristina, and their mother Agatha fled north to Northumbria, England.

    Journey to Scotland

    According to tradition, the widowed Agatha decided to leave Northumbria, England with her children and return to the continent. However, a storm drove their ship north to the Kingdom of Scotland in 1068, where they sought the protection of King Malcolm III. The locus where it is believed that they landed is known today as St Margaret's Hope, near the village of North Queensferry, Fife, Scotland. Margaret's arrival in Scotland, after the failed revolt of the Northumbrian earls, has been heavily romanticized, though Symeon of Durham implied that her first meeting of Malcolm III may not have been until 1070, after William the Conqueror's Harrying of the North.

    King Malcolm III was a widower with two sons, Donald and Duncan. He would have been attracted to marrying one of the few remaining members of the Anglo-Saxon royal family. The marriage of Malcolm and Margaret occurred in 1070. Subsequently, Malcolm executed several invasions of Northumberland to support the claim of his new brother-in-law Edgar and to increase his own power. These, however, had little effect save the devastation of the County.[2]


    Margaret and Malcolm had eight children, six sons and two daughters:

    Edward (c. 1071 — 13 November 1093), killed along with his father Malcolm III in the Battle of Alnwick
    Edmund of Scotland (c.1071 – post 1097)
    Ethelred of Scotland, Abbot of Dunkeld, Perth and Kinross, Scotland
    Edgar of Scotland (c.1074 — 11 January 1107), King of Scotland, regnat 1097-1107
    Alexander I of Scotland (c.1078 — 23 April 1124), King of Scotland, regnat 1107-24
    Edith of Scotland (c. 1080 – 1 May 1118), also named "Matilda", married King Henry I of England, Queen Consort of England
    Mary of Scotland (1082-1116), married Eustace III of Boulogne
    David I of Scotland (c.1083 – 24 May 1153), King of Scotland, regnat 1124-53


    Malcolm greeting Margaret at her arrival in Scotland; detail of a mural by Victorian artist William Hole
    Margaret's biographer Turgot of Durham, Bishop of St. Andrew's, credits her with having a civilizing influence on her husband Malcolm by reading him narratives from the Bible. She instigated religious reform, striving to conform the worship and practices of the Church in Scotland to those of Rome. This she did on the inspiration and with the guidance of Lanfranc, a future Archbishop of Canterbury.[3] She also worked to conform the practices of the Scottish Church to those of the continental Church, which she experienced in her childhood. Due to these achievements, she was considered an exemplar of the "just ruler", and moreover influenced her husband and children, especially her youngest son, the future King David I of Scotland, to be just and holy rulers.

    "The chroniclers all agree in depicting Queen Margaret as a strong, pure, noble character, who had very great influence over her husband, and through him over Scottish history, especially in its ecclesiastical aspects. Her religion, which was genuine and intense, was of the newest Roman style; and to her are attributed a number of reforms by which the Church [in] Scotland was considerably modified from the insular and primitive type which down to her time it had exhibited. Among those expressly mentioned are a change in the manner of observing Lent, which thenceforward began as elsewhere on Ash Wednesday and not as previously on the following Monday, and the abolition of the old practice of observing Saturday (Sabbath), not Sunday, as the day of rest from labour (see Skene's Celtic Scotland, book ii chap. 8)."[4] The later editions of the Encyclopµdia Britannica, however, as an example, the Eleventh Edition, remove Skene's opinion that Scottish Catholics formerly rested from work on Saturday, something for which there is no historical evidence. Skene's Celtic Scotland, vol. ii, chap. 8, pp. 348–350, quotes from a contemporary document regarding Margaret's life, but his source says nothing at all of Saturday Sabbath observance, but rather says St. Margaret exhorted the Scots to cease their tendency "to neglect the due observance of the Lord's day."

    She attended to charitable works, serving orphans and the poor every day before she ate and washing the feet of the poor in imitation of Christ. She rose at midnight every night to attend the liturgy. She successfully invited the Benedictine Order to establish a monastery in Dunfermline, Fife in 1072, and established ferries at Queensferry and North Berwick to assist pilgrims journeying from south of the Firth of Forth to St. Andrew's in Fife. She used a cave on the banks of the Tower Burn in Dunfermline as a place of devotion and prayer. St. Margaret's Cave, now covered beneath a municipal car park, is open to the public.[5] Among other deeds, Margaret also instigated the restoration of Iona Abbey in Scotland.[6] She is also known to have interceded for the release of fellow English exiles who had been forced into serfdom by the Norman conquest of England.[7]

    Margaret was as pious privately as she was publicly. She spent much of her time in prayer, devotional reading, and ecclesiastical embroidery. This apparently had considerable effect on the more uncouth Malcolm, who was illiterate: he so admired her piety that he had her books decorated in gold and silver. One of these, a pocket gospel book with portraits of the Evangelists, is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England.[8]

    Malcolm was apparently largely ignorant of the long-term effects of Margaret's endeavours, not being especially religious himself. He was content for her to pursue her reforms as she desired, which was a testament to the strength of and affection in their marriage.[6]


    Her husband Malcolm III, and their eldest son Edward, were killed in the Battle of Alnwick against the English on 13 November 1093. Her son Edgar was left with the task of informing his mother of their deaths. Margaret was not yet 50 years old, but a life of constant austerity and fasting had taken its toll.[3] Already ill, Margaret died on 16 November 1093, three days after the deaths of her husband and eldest son. She was buried before the high altar in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. In 1250, the year of her canonization, her body and that of her husband were exhumed and placed in a new shrine in the Abbey. In 1560 Mary Queen of Scots had Margaret's head removed to Edinburgh Castle as a relic to assist her in childbirth. In 1597 Margaret's head ended up with the Jesuits at the Scottish College, Douai, France, but was lost during the French Revolution. King Philip of Spain had the other remains of Margaret and Malcolm III transferred to the Escorial palace in Madrid, Spain, but their present location has not been discovered.[9]


    Site of the ruined Shrine of St. Margaret at Dunfermline Abbey, Fife, Scotland

    St Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

    St Margaret's Church in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
    Canonization and feast day[edit]
    Pope Innocent IV canonized St. Margaret in 1250 in recognition of her personal holiness, fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church, work for ecclesiastical reform, and charity. On 19 June 1250, after her canonisation, her remains were transferred to a chapel in the eastern apse of Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland.[10] In 1693 Pope Innocent XII moved her feast day to 10 June in recognition of the birthdate of the son of James VII of Scotland and II of England.[11] In the revision of the General Roman Calendar in 1969, 16 November became free and the Church transferred her feast day to 16 November, the date of her death, on which it always had been observed in Scotland.[12] However, some traditionalist Catholics continue to celebrate her feast day on 10 June.

    She is also venerated as a saint in the Anglican Church.

    Institutions bearing her name

    Several churches throughout the world are dedicated in honour of St Margaret. One of the oldest is St Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland, which her son King David I founded. The Chapel was long thought to have been the oratory of Margaret herself, but is now thought to have been established in the 12th century. The oldest edifice in Edinburgh, it was restored in the 19th century and refurbished in the 1990s. Numerous other institutions are named for her as well.

    1. Matilda of Scotland, Queen of England was born 0___ 1080, Dumfermline, Scotland; died 1 May 1118, Westminster Palace, Westminster, London, Middlesex, England; was buried Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom.
    2. David of Scotland, I, King of the Scots was born 0___ 1085; died 24 May 1154, Carlisle, Scotland; was buried Dunfermline Abbey, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.
    3. 1. Mary of Scotland was born 1082; died 1116.

Generation: 3

  1. 6.  Edward the ExileEdward the Exile was born 1016, (Wessex) England (son of Edmund II, King of the English and Ealdgyth); died 19 Apr 1057.

    Other Events:

    • Residence: Hungary


    Edward the Exile (1016 – 19 April 1057), also called Edward ¥theling, was the son of King Edmund Ironside and of Ealdgyth. He spent most of his life in exile in the Kingdom of Hungary following the defeat of his father by Canute the Great;


    After the Danish conquest of England in 1016, Canute had Edward, said to be only a few months old, and his brother, Edmund, sent to the Swedish court of Olof Skèotkonung[1][2] (who was either Canute's half-brother or stepbrother), supposedly with instructions to have the children murdered. Instead, the two boys were secretly sent either to Kiev,[3] where Olof's daughter Ingigerd was the Queen, or to Poland, where Canute's uncle Boleslaw I Chrobry was duke.[4] Later Edward made his way to Hungary, probably in the retinue of Ingigerd's son-in-law, Andrâas in 1046.


    On hearing the news of his being alive, Edward the Confessor recalled him to England in 1056 and made him his heir. Edward offered the last chance of an undisputed succession within the Saxon royal house. News of Edward's existence came at a time when the old Anglo-Saxon monarchy, restored after a long period of Danish domination, was heading for catastrophe. The Confessor, personally devout but politically weak and without children, was unable to make an effective stand against the steady advance of the powerful and ambitious sons of Godwin, Earl of Wessex. From across the Channel William, Duke of Normandy, also had an eye on the succession. Edward the Exile appeared at just the right time. Approved by both king and by the Witan, the Council of the Realm, he offered a way out of the impasse, a counter both to the Godwinsons and to William, and one with a legitimacy that could not be readily challenged.

    In 1054 King Edward sent Ealdred, Bishop of Worcester, to the court of the German emperor to set in train negotiations with the king of Hungary for the return of Edward the Exile. Ealdred was not at first successful, and Earl Harold's journey to Flanders, and possibly on to Germany and Hungary, in 1056 was probably undertaken to further negotiations. The Exile finally arrived in England in 1057 with his wife and children, but died within a few days, on 19 April, without meeting the King. He was buried in Old St Paul's Cathedral.[5]


    Edward's wife was named Agatha, whose origins are disputed.[6] Their children were:

    Edgar ¥theling (c. 1051 - c. 1126) - Elected King of England after the Battle of Hastings but submitted to William the Conqueror.
    Saint Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045 - 16 November 1093) - Married King Malcolm III of Scotland.
    Cristina (c. 1057 - c. 1093) - Abbess at Romsey Abbey.
    Edward's grandchild Edith of Scotland, also called Matilda, married King Henry I of England, continuing the Anglo-Saxon line into the post-Conquest English monarchy.


    Edward the Exile was a direct descendant of a line of Wessex kings dating back, at least on the pages of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, to the arrival of Cerdic of Wessex in 495AD, and from Alfred the Great in the English monarchs family tree.[7] Of his more immediate ancestors, all four of Edward's male-line ancestors shown in the diagram below were Kings of England before Cnut the Great took the crown and sent Edward into exile.[8]

    Edward married Agatha (Hungary). Agatha was born >1030, (Hungary); died <1070, (England). [Group Sheet]

  2. 7.  Agatha was born >1030, (Hungary); died <1070, (England).
    1. 3. Margaret of Wessex was born ~ 1045, Hungary; died 16 Nov 1093, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland; was buried Dunfermline Abbey, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.

Generation: 4

  1. 12.  Edmund II, King of the EnglishEdmund II, King of the English was born 990, (Wessex) England (son of Aethelred the Unready, King of the English and Aelfgifu of York, Queen consort of England); died 30 Nov 1016, (London) England; was buried Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, England.


    Edmund Ironside (died 30 November 1016), also known as Edmund II, was King of England from 23 April to 30 November 1016. He was the son of King ¥thelred the Unready and his first wife, ¥lfgifu of York. Edmund's reign was marred by a war he had inherited from his father, his cognomen "Ironside" was given to him "because of his valour" in resisting the Danish invasion led by Cnut the Great.[1]

    Edmund was not expected to be King of England; however, by 1014 two elder brothers had died, making him the oldest male heir. His father, ¥thelred, was usurped by Sweyn Forkbeard in that same year, but Sweyn died shortly thereafter, paving the way for ¥thelred and his family to return to the throne, which they did but not without opposition. In the process they forced Sweyn's son, Cnut, back to Denmark, where he assembled an invasion force to re-conquer England. It would not arrive for another year.

    After regaining the throne, the royal family set about strengthening its hold on the country with the assistance of Eadric Streona (Edmund's brother-in-law). People who had sided with the Danes in 1014 were punished, and some were killed. In one case, two brothers, Morcar and Sigeferth, were killed and their possessions, along with Sigferth's wife, were taken by Edmund. Edmund unofficially became the Earl of the East Midlands and took Ealdgyth for his wife.

    Cnut returned to England in August 1015. Over the next few months, Cnut pillaged most of England. Edmund joined ¥thelred to defend London, but he died on 23 April 1016, making Edmund King. It was not until the summer of 1016 that any serious fighting was done: Edmund fought five battles against the Danes, ending in his defeat on 18 October at the Battle of Assandun, after which they agreed to divide the kingdom, Edmund taking Wessex and Cnut the rest of the country. Edmund died shortly afterwards on 30 November, leaving two sons, Edward and Edmund; however, Cnut became the king of all England, and exiled the remaining members of Edmund's family.

    King of the English
    Reign 23 April – 30 November 1016
    Predecessor ¥thelred the Unready
    Successor Cnut the Great
    Born 990
    Died 30 November 1016 (aged 26)
    Oxford or London, England
    Burial Glastonbury Abbey
    Spouse Ealdgyth
    Issue Edward the Exile
    House Wessex
    Father ¥thelred the Unready
    Mother ¥lfgifu of York
    Religion British Church

    Early life

    The exact date of Edmund's birth is unclear, but it could have been no later than 993 when he was a signatory to charters along with his two elder brothers. He was the third of the six sons of King ¥thelred the Unready and his first wife, ¥lfgifu, who was probably the daughter of Earl Thored of Northumbria. His elder brothers were ¥thelstan (died 1014) and Egbert (died c. 1005), and younger ones, Eadred, Eadwig and Edgar.[1] He had four sisters, Eadgyth (or Edith), ¥lfgifu, Wulfhilda, and the Abbess of Wherwell Abbey. His mother died around 1000,[2] after which his father remarried, this time to Emma of Normandy, who had two sons, Edward the Confessor and Alfred and a daughter Goda.

    ¥thelstan and Edmund were close, and they probably felt threatened by Emma's ambitions for her sons.[3] The Life of Edward the Confessor, written fifty years later, claimed that when Emma was pregnant with him, all Englishmen promised that if the child was a boy they would accept him as king.[1] However that claim may just be propaganda.

    Warrior prince

    When Sweyn Forkbeard seized the throne at the end of 1013 and ¥thelred fled to Normandy, the brothers do not appear to have followed him, but stayed in England. ¥thelstan died in June 1014 and left Edmund a sword which had belonged to king Offa of Mercia.[1] His will also reflected the close relationship between the brothers and the nobility of the east midlands.[4]

    Sweyn died in February 1014, and the Five Boroughs accepted his son Cnut, who married a kinswoman of Sigeferth and Morcar, as king. However, ¥thelred returned to England and launched a surprise attack which defeated the Vikings and forced Cnut to flee England. In 1015 Sigeferth and Morcar came to an assembly in Oxford, probably hoping for a royal pardon, but they were murdered by Eadric Streona. King ¥thelred then ordered that Sigeferth's widow, Ealdgyth, be seized and brought to Malmesbury Abbey, but Edmund seized and married her in defiance of his father, probably to consolidate his power base in the east midlands.[5] He then received the submission of the people of the Five Boroughs. At the same time, Cnut launched a new invasion of England. In late 1015 Edmund raised an army, possibly assisted by his wife's and mother's links with the midlands and the north, but the Mercians under Eadric Streona joined the West Saxons in submitting to Cnut. In early 1016 the army assembled by Edmund dispersed when ¥thelred did not appear to lead it, probably due to illness. Edmund then raised a new army and in conjunction with Earl Uhtred of Northumbria ravaged Eadric Streona's Mercian territories, but when Cnut occupied Northumbria Uhtred submitted to him, only to be killed by Cnut. Edmund went to London.[1]

    King of England

    ¥thelred died on 23 April 1016, and the citizens and councillors in London chose Edmund as king and probably crowned him. He then mounted a last-ditch effort to revive the defence of England. While the Danes laid siege to London, Edmund headed for Wessex, where the people submitted to him and he gathered an army. He fought inconclusive battles against the Danes and their English supporters at Penselwood in Somerset and Sherston in Wiltshire. He then raised the siege of London and defeated the Danes near Brentford. They renewed the siege while Edmund went to Wessex to raise further troops, returning to again relieve London, defeat the Danes at Otford, and pursue Cnut into Kent. Eadric Streona now went over to Edmund, but at the decisive Battle of Assandun on 18 October, Eadric and his men fled and Cnut decisively defeated Edmund. There may have been one further battle in the Forest of Dean, after which the two kings negotiated a peace dividing the country between them. Edmund received Wessex while Cnut took Mercia and probably Northumbria.[1]


    On 30 November 1016, Edmund died. The location of his death is uncertain though it is generally accepted that it occurred in London, rather than in Oxford where Henry of Huntingdon claimed it to be in his sordid version of events, which included Edmund’s murder by suffering multiple stab wounds whilst on a privy tending to a call of nature.[6] Geoffrey Gaimar states a similar occurrence with the weapon being a crossbow, but with a number of other medieval chroniclers including the Encomium Emmae Reginae not mentioning murder, it is thought Edmund’s cause of death may possibly have been caused by wounds received in battle or by some disease, but it is certainly a possibility that he was murdered.

    Edmund was buried near his grandfather Edgar at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset. However the abbey was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, and any remains of a monument or crypt would have been plundered and the location of his remains is unclear.


    In the view of M. K. Lawson, the intensity of Edmund's struggle against the Danes in 1016 is only matched by Alfred the Great's in 871, and contrasts with ¥thelred's failure. Edmund's success in raising one army after another suggests that there was little wrong with the organs of government under competent leadership. He was "probably a highly determined, skilled and indeed inspiring leader of men". Cnut visited his tomb on the anniversary of his death and laid a cloak decorated with peacocks on it to assist in his salvation, peacocks symbolising resurrection.[1]


    Edmund had two children by Ealdgyth, Edward the Exile and Edmund. According to John of Worcester, Cnut sent them to the king of Sweden where he probably hoped they would be murdered, but the Swedish king instead forwarded them, together with his daughter, on to Kiev. The two boys eventually ended up in Hungary where Edmund died but Edward prospered. Edward "the Exile" returned to England in 1057 only to die within a few days of his arrival.[7] His son Edgar the ¥theling was briefly proclaimed king after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, but later submitted to William the Conqueror. Edgar would live a long and eventful life; fighting in rebellion against William the Conqueror from 1067-1075; fighting alongside the Conqueror's son Robert of Normandy in campaigns in Sicily (1085-1087); and accompanying Robert on the First Crusade (1099-1103). He was stlll alive in 1125.

    In 1070 Edward the Exile's daughter, Margaret, became Queen consort to Malcolm III of Scotland. Through her and her decedents, Edmund is the direct ancestor of every subsequent Scottish monarch, every English monarch from Henry II onward, and every monarch of Great Britain and of the United Kingdom, down to the present.

    Edmund — Ealdgyth. Ealdgyth was born Abt 992; died Aft 1016. [Group Sheet]

  2. 13.  Ealdgyth was born Abt 992; died Aft 1016.
    1. 6. Edward the Exile was born 1016, (Wessex) England; died 19 Apr 1057.

Generation: 5

  1. 24.  Aethelred the Unready, King of the EnglishAethelred the Unready, King of the English was born Abt 966, (Wessex) England (son of Edgar the Peaceful, King of England and Aelfthryth); died 23 Apr 1016, London, England; was buried London, England.


    ¥thelred II (Old English: ¥¤elrµd, pronounced [µºelrµ?d];[1] c. 966 – 23 April 1016), known as the Unready, was King of the English from 978 to 1013 and again from 1014 until his death. His epithet does not derive from the modern word "unready", but rather from the Old English unrµd (meaning "poorly advised"); it is a pun on his name, which means "well advised".

    ¥thelred was the son of King Edgar and Queen ¥lfthryth. He came to the throne at about the age of 12, following the assassination of his older half-brother, Edward the Martyr. His brother's murder was carried out by supporters of his own claim to the throne, although he was too young to have any personal involvement. The chief problem of ¥thelred's reign was conflict with the Danes. After several decades of relative peace, Danish raids on English territory began again in earnest in the 980s. Following the Battle of Maldon in 991, ¥thelred paid tribute, or Danegeld, to the Danish king. In 1002, ¥thelred ordered what became known as the St. Brice's Day massacre of Danish settlers. In 1013, King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark invaded England, as a result of which ¥thelred fled to Normandy in 1013 and was replaced by Sweyn. However, he returned as king for two years after Sweyn's death in 1014. ¥thelred's 37-year reign was the longest of any Anglo-Saxon king of England, and was only surpassed in the 13th century, by Henry III. ¥thelred was briefly succeeded by his son, Edmund Ironside, but he died after a few months and was replaced by Sweyn's son, Cnut. Another of his sons, Edward the Confessor, became king in 1042.

    King of the English
    Reign 18 March 978 – 1013 (first time)
    Predecessor Edward the Martyr
    Successor Sweyn Forkbeard
    Reign 1014 – 23 April 1016
    (second time)
    Predecessor Sweyn Forkbeard
    Successor Edmund Ironside
    Born c. 966
    Died 23 April 1016 (aged about 50)
    London, England
    Burial Old St Paul's Cathedral, London, now lost
    Spouse ¥lfgifu of York
    Emma of Normandy
    See list[show]
    House Wessex
    Father Edgar, King of England
    Mother ¥lfthryth
    Religion Christianity


    ¥thelred's first name, composed of the elements µºele, "noble", and rµd, "counsel, advice",[2] is typical of the compound names of those who belonged to the royal House of Wessex, and it characteristically alliterates with the names of his ancestors, like ¥thelwulf ("noble-wolf"), ¥lfred ("elf-counsel"), Eadweard ("rich-protection"), and Eadgar ("rich-spear").[3]

    The story of ¥thelred's notorious nickname, Old English Unrµd, goes a long way toward explaining how his reputation has declined through history[dubious – discuss] It is usually translated into present-day English as "The Unready" (less often, though less confusingly, as "The Redeless").[4] The Anglo-Saxon noun unrµd means "evil counsel", "bad plan", or "folly".[2] It most often describes decisions and deeds, and once refers to the nature of Satan's deceit. The element rµd in unrµd is the element in ¥thelred's name which means "counsel". Thus ¥¤elrµd Unrµd is a pun meaning "Noble counsel, No counsel". The nickname has alternatively been taken adjectivally as "ill-advised", "ill-prepared", "indecisive", thus "¥thelred the ill-advised".

    Because the nickname was first recorded in the 1180s, more than 150 years after ¥thelred's death, it is doubtful that it carries any implications for how the king was seen by his contemporaries or near contemporaries.[5]

    Early life

    Gold mancus of ¥thelred wearing armour, 1003–1006.
    Sir Frank Stenton remarked that "much that has brought condemnation of historians on King ¥thelred may well be due in the last resort to the circumstances under which he became king."[6] ¥thelred's father, King Edgar, had died suddenly in July 975, leaving two young sons behind. The elder, Edward (later Edward the Martyr), was probably illegitimate,[7] and was "still a youth on the verge of manhood" in 975.[8] The younger son was ¥thelred, whose mother, ¥lfthryth, Edgar had married in 964. ¥lfthryth was the daughter of Ordgar, ealdorman of Devon, and widow of ¥thelwold, Ealdorman of East Anglia. At the time of his father's death, ¥thelred could have been no more than 10 years old. As the elder of Edgar's sons, Edward – reportedly a young man given to frequent violent outbursts – probably would have naturally succeeded to the throne of England despite his young age, had not he "offended many important persons by his intolerable violence of speech and behaviour."[8] In any case, a number of English nobles took to opposing Edward's succession and to defending ¥thelred's claim to the throne; ¥thelred was, after all, the son of Edgar's last, living wife, and no rumour of illegitimacy is known to have plagued ¥thelred's birth, as it might have his elder brother's.[9] Both boys, ¥thelred certainly, were too young to have played any significant part in the political manoeuvring which followed Edgar's death. It was the brothers' supporters, and not the brothers themselves, who were responsible for the turmoil which accompanied the choice of a successor to the throne. ¥thelred's cause was led by his mother and included ¥lfhere, Ealdorman of Mercia and Bishop ¥thelwold of Winchester,[10] while Edward's claim was supported by Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Oswald, the Archbishop of York[11] among other noblemen, notably ¥thelwine, Ealdorman of East Anglia, and Byrhtnoth, ealdorman of Essex. In the end, Edward's supporters proved the more powerful and persuasive, and he was crowned king at Kingston upon Thames before the year was out.

    Edward reigned for only three years before he was murdered by members of his brother's household.[12] Though little is known about Edward's short reign, it is known that it was marked by political turmoil. Edgar had made extensive grants of land to monasteries which pursued the new monastic ideals of ecclesiastical reform, but these disrupted aristocratic families' traditional patronage. The end of his firm rule saw a reversal of this policy, with aristocrats recovering their lost properties or seizing new ones. This was opposed by Dunstan, but according to Cyril Hart, "The presence of supporters of church reform on both sides indicates that the conflict between them depended as much on issues of land ownership and local power as on ecclesiastical legitimacy. Adherents of both Edward and ¥thelred can be seen appropriating, or recovering, monastic lands."[7] Nevertheless, favour for Edward must have been strong among the monastic communities. When Edward was killed at ¥thelred's estate at Corfe Castle in Dorset in March 978, the job of recording the event, as well as reactions to it, fell to monastic writers. Stenton offers a summary of the earliest account of Edward's murder, which comes from a work praising the life of St Oswald: "On the surface his [Edward's] relations with ¥thelred his half-brother and ¥lfthryth his stepmother were friendly, and he was visiting them informally when he was killed. [¥thelred's] retainers came out to meet him with ostentatious signs of respect, and then, before he had dismounted, surrounded him, seized his hands, and stabbed him. ... So far as can be seen the murder was planned and carried out by ¥thelred's household men in order that their young master might become king. There is nothing to support the allegation, which first appears in writing more than a century later, that Queen ¥lfthryth had plotted her stepson's death. No one was punished for a part in the crime, and ¥thelred, who was crowned a month after the murder, began to reign in an atmosphere of suspicion which destroyed the prestige of the crown. It was never fully restored in his lifetime."[13] Nevertheless, at first, the outlook of the new king's officers and counsellors seems in no way to have been bleak. According to one chronicler, the coronation of ¥thelred took place with much rejoicing by the councillors of the English people.[14] Simon Keynes notes that "Byrhtferth of Ramsey states similarly that when ¥thelred was consecrated king, by Archbishop Dunstan and Archbishop Oswald, 'there was great joy at his consecration’, and describes the king in this connection as 'a young man in respect of years, elegant in his manners, with an attractive face and handsome appearance'."[14] ¥thelred could not have been older than 13 years of age in this year.

    During these early years, ¥thelred was developing a close relationship to ¥thelwold, bishop of Winchester, one who had supported his unsuccessful claim to the throne. When ¥thelwold died, on 1 August 984, ¥thelred deeply lamented the loss, and he wrote later in a charter from 993 that the event had deprived the country of one "whose industry and pastoral care administered not only to my interest but also to that of all inhabitants of the country."[14]

    Conflict with the Danes

    England had experienced a period of peace after the reconquest of the Danelaw in the mid-10th century by King Edgar, ¥thelred's father. However, beginning in 980, when ¥thelred could not have been more than 14 years old, small companies of Danish adventurers carried out a series of coastline raids against England. Hampshire, Thanet and Cheshire were attacked in 980, Devon and Cornwall in 981, and Dorset in 982. A period of six years then passed before, in 988, another coastal attack is recorded as having taken place to the south-west, though here a famous battle was fought between the invaders and the thegns of Devon. Stenton notes that, though this series of isolated raids had no lasting effect on England itself, "their chief historical importance is that they brought England for the first time into diplomatic contact with Normandy."[15] During this period, the Normans, who remembered their origins as a Scandinavian people, were well-disposed to their Danish cousins who, occasionally returning from a raid on England, sought port in Normandy. This led to grave tension between the English and Norman courts, and word of their enmity eventually reached Pope John XV. The pope was disposed to dissolve their hostility towards each other, and took steps to engineer a peace between England and Normandy, which was ratified in Rouen in 991.

    Battle of Maldon

    However, in August of that same year, a sizeable Danish fleet began a sustained campaign in the south-east of England. It arrived off Folkestone, in Kent, and made its way around the south-east coast and up the River Blackwater, coming eventually to its estuary and occupying Northey Island.[14] About 2 kilometres (1 mile) west of Northey lies the coastal town of Maldon, where Byrhtnoth, ealdorman of Essex, was stationed with a company of thegns. The battle that followed between English and Danes is immortalised by the Old English poem The Battle of Maldon, which describes the doomed but heroic attempt of Byrhtnoth to defend the coast of Essex against overwhelming odds. Stenton summarises the events of the poem: "For access to the mainland they (the Danes) depended on a causeway, flooded at high tide, which led from Northey to the flats along the southern margin of the estuary. Before they (the Danes) had left their camp on the island[,] Byrhtnoth, with his retainers and a force of local militia, had taken possession of the landward end of the causeway. Refusing a demand for tribute, shouted across the water while the tide was high, Byrhtnoth drew up his men along the bank, and waited for the ebb. As the water fell the raiders began to stream out along the causeway. But three of Byrthnoth's retainers held it against them, and at last they asked to be allowed to cross unhindered and fight on equal terms on the mainland. With what even those who admired him most called 'over-courage', Byrhtnoth agreed to this; the pirates rushed through the falling tide, and battle was joined. Its issue was decided by Byrhtnoth's fall. Many even of his own men immediately took to flight and the English ranks were broken. What gives enduring interest to the battle is the superb courage with which a group of Byrhtnoth's thegns, knowing that the fight was lost, deliberately gave themselves to death in order that they might avenge their lord."[16] This was the first of a series of crushing defeats felt by the English: beaten first by Danish raiders, and later by organised Danish armies.

    England begins tributes

    In 991, ¥thelred was around 24 years old. In the aftermath of Maldon, it was decided that the English should grant the tribute to the Danes that they desired, and so a gafol of ¹10,000 was paid them for their peace. Yet it was presumably the Danish fleet that had beaten Byrhtnoth at Maldon that continued to ravage the English coast from 991 to 993. In 994, the Danish fleet, which had swollen in ranks since 991, turned up the Thames estuary and headed toward London. The battle fought there was inconclusive. It was about this time that ¥thelred met with the leaders of the fleet, foremost among them Olaf Tryggvason[clarification needed] and arranged an uneasy accord. A treaty was signed between ¥thelred and Olaf that provided for seemingly civilised arrangements between the then-settled Danish companies and the English government, such as regulation settlement disputes and trade. But the treaty also stipulated that the ravaging and slaughter of the previous year would be forgotten, and ended abruptly by stating that ¹22,000 of gold and silver had been paid to the raiders as the price of peace.[17] In 994, Olaf Tryggvason, already a baptised Christian, was confirmed as Christian in a ceremony at Andover; King ¥thelred stood as his sponsor. After receiving gifts, Olaf promised "that he would never come back to England in hostility."[14] Olaf then left England for Norway and never returned, though "other component parts of the Viking force appear to have decided to stay in England, for it is apparent from the treaty that some had chosen to enter into King ¥thelred's service as mercenaries, based presumably on the Isle of Wight."[14]

    Renewed Danish raids

    In 997, Danish raids began again. According to Keynes, "there is no suggestion that this was a new fleet or army, and presumably the mercenary force created in 994 from the residue of the raiding army of 991 had turned on those whom it had been hired to protect."[14] It harried Cornwall, Devon, western Somerset and south Wales in 997, Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex in 998. In 999, it raided Kent, and, in 1000, it left England for Normandy, perhaps because the English had refused in this latest wave of attacks to acquiesce to the Danish demands for gafol or tribute, which would come to be known as Danegeld, 'Dane-payment'. This sudden relief from attack ¥thelred used to gather his thoughts, resources, and armies: the fleet's departure in 1000 "allowed ¥thelred to carry out a devastation of Strathclyde, the motive for which is part of the lost history of the north."[18]

    In 1001, a Danish fleet – perhaps the same fleet from 1000 – returned and ravaged west Sussex. During its movements, the fleet regularly returned to its base in the Isle of Wight. There was later an attempted attack in the south of Devon, though the English mounted a successful defence at Exeter. Nevertheless, ¥thelred must have felt at a loss, and, in the Spring of 1002, the English bought a truce for ¹24,000. ¥thelred's frequent payments of immense Danegelds are often held up as exemplary of the incompetency of his government and his own short-sightedness. However, Keynes points out that such payments had been practice for at least a century, and had been adopted by Alfred the Great, Charles the Bald and many others. Indeed, in some cases it "may have seemed the best available way of protecting the people against loss of life, shelter, livestock and crops. Though undeniably burdensome, it constituted a measure for which the king could rely on widespread support."[14]

    St. Brice's Day massacre of 1002

    Main article: St. Brice's Day massacre
    ¥thelred ordered the massacre of all Danish men in England to take place on 13 November 1002, St Brice's Day. No order of this kind could be carried out in more than a third of England, where the Danes were too strong, but Gunhilde, sister of Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark, was said to have been among the victims. It is likely that a wish to avenge her was a principal motive for Sweyn's invasion of western England the following year.[19] By 1004 Sweyn was in East Anglia, where he sacked Norwich. In this year, a nobleman of East Anglia, Ulfcytel Snillingr met Sweyn in force, and made an impression on the until-then rampant Danish expedition. Though Ulfcytel was eventually defeated, outside Thetford, he caused the Danes heavy losses and was nearly able to destroy their ships. The Danish army left England for Denmark in 1005, perhaps because of their injuries sustained in East Anglia, perhaps from the very severe famine which afflicted the continent and the British Isles in that year.[14]

    An expedition the following year was bought off in early 1007 by tribute money of ¹36,000, and for the next two years England was free from attack. In 1008, the government created a new fleet of warships, organised on a national scale, but this was weakened when one of its commanders took to piracy, and the king and his council decided not to risk it in a general action. In Stenton's view: "The history of England in the next generation was really determined between 1009 and 1012...the ignominious collapse of the English defence caused a loss of morale which was irreparable." The Danish army of 1009, led by Thorkell the Tall and his brother Hemming, was the most formidable force to invade England since ¥thelred became king. It harried England until it was bought off by ¹48,000 in April 1012.[20]

    Invasion of 1013

    Sweyn then launched an invasion in 1013 intending to crown himself king of England, during which he proved himself to be a general greater than any other Viking leader of his generation. By the end of 1013 English resistance had collapsed and Sweyn had conquered the country, forcing ¥thelred into exile in Normandy. But the situation changed suddenly when Sweyn died on 3 February 1014. The crews of the Danish ships in the Trent that had supported Sweyn immediately swore their allegiance to Sweyn's son Cnut the Great, but leading English noblemen sent a deputation to ¥thelred to negotiate his restoration to the throne. He was required to declare his loyalty to them, to bring in reforms regarding everything that they disliked and to forgive all that had been said and done against him in his previous reign. The terms of this agreement are of great constitutional interest in early English History as they are the first recorded pact between a King and his subjects and are also widely regarded as showing that many English noblemen had submitted to Sweyn simply because of their distrust of ¥thelred.[21] According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:

    they [the counsellors] said that no lord was dearer to them than their natural (gecynde) lord, if he would govern them more justly than he did before. Then the king sent his son Edward hither with his messengers and bade them greet all his people and said that he would be a gracious (hold) lord to them, and reform all the things which they hated; and all the things which had been said and done against him should be forgiven on condition that they all unanimously turned to him (to him gecyrdon) without treachery. And complete friendship was then established with oath and pledge (mid worde and mid wµdde) on both sides, and they pronounced every Danish king an exile from England forever.[22]
    ¥thelred then launched an expedition against Cnut and his allies. It was only the people of the Kingdom of Lindsey (modern North Lincolnshire) who supported Cnut. ¥thelred first set out to recapture London apparently with the help of the Norwegian Olaf Haraldsson. According to the Icelandic historian, Snorri Sturluson, Ólaf led a successful attack on London bridge with a fleet of ships. He then went on to help ¥thelred retake London and other parts of the country. Cnut and his army decided to withdraw from England, in April 1014, leaving his Lindsey allies to suffer ¥thelred's revenge. In about 1016 it is thought that Ólaf left to concentrate on raiding western Europe.[23] In the same year, Cnut returned to find a complex and volatile situation unfolding in England.[23] ¥thelred's son, Edmund Ironside, had revolted against his father and established himself in the Danelaw, which was angry at Cnut and ¥thelred for the ravaging of Lindsey and was prepared to support Edmund in any uprising against both of them

    Death and burial

    Over the next few months Cnut conquered most of England, while Edmund rejoined ¥thelred to defend London when ¥thelred died on 23 April 1016. The subsequent war between Edmund and Cnut ended in a decisive victory for Cnut at the Battle of Ashingdon on 18 October 1016. Edmund's reputation as a warrior was such that Cnut nevertheless agreed to divide England, Edmund taking Wessex and Cnut the whole of the country beyond the Thames. However, Edmund died on 30 November and Cnut became king of the whole country.[24]

    ¥thelred was buried in Old St Paul's Cathedral, London. The tomb and his monument were destroyed along with the cathedral in the Great Fire of London in 1666.[25] A modern monument in the crypt lists his among the important graves lost.


    A charter of ¥thelred's in 1003 to his follower, ¥thelred. British Library, London.
    ¥thelred's government produced extensive legislation, which he "ruthlessly enforced."[26] Records of at least six legal codes survive from his reign, covering a range of topics.[27] Notably, one of the members of his council (known as the Witan) was Wulfstan II, Archbishop of York, a well-known homilist. The three latest codes from ¥thelred's reign seemed to have been drafted by Wulfstan.[28] These codes are extensively concerned with ecclesiastical affairs. They also exhibit the characteristics of Wulfstan's highly rhetorical style. Wulfstan went on to draft codes for King Cnut, and recycled there many of the laws which were used in ¥thelred's codes.[29]

    Despite the failure of his government in the face of the Danish threat, ¥thelred's reign was not without some important institutional achievements. The quality of the coinage, a good indicator of the prevailing economic conditions, significantly improved during his reign due to his numerous coinage reform laws.[30]


    Later perspectives of ¥thelred have been less than flattering. Numerous legends and anecdotes have sprung up to explain his shortcomings, often elaborating abusively on his character and failures. One such anecdote is given by William of Malmesbury (lived c. 1080–c. 1143), who reports that ¥thelred had defecated in the baptismal font as a child, which led St Dunstan to prophesy that the English monarchy would be overthrown during his reign. This story is, however, a fabrication, and a similar story is told of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Copronymus, another mediaeval monarch who was unpopular among certain of his subjects.

    Efforts to rehabilitate ¥thelred's reputation have gained momentum since about 1980. Chief among the rehabilitators has been Simon Keynes, who has often argued that our poor impression of ¥thelred is almost entirely based upon after-the-fact accounts of, and later accretions to, the narrative of events during ¥thelred's long and complex reign. Chief among the culprits is in fact one of the most important sources for the history of the period, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which, as it reports events with a retrospect of 15 years, cannot help but interpret events with the eventual English defeat a foregone conclusion. Yet, as virtually no strictly contemporary narrative account of the events of ¥thelred's reign exists, historians are forced to rely on what evidence there is. Keynes and others thus draw attention to some of the inevitable snares of investigating the history of a man whom later popular opinion has utterly damned. Recent cautious assessments of ¥thelred's reign have more often uncovered reasons to doubt, rather than uphold, ¥thelred's later infamy. Though the failures of his government will always put ¥thelred's reign in the shadow of the reigns of kings Edgar, Aethelstan, and Alfred, historians' current impression of ¥thelred's personal character is certainly not as unflattering as it once was: "¥thelred's misfortune as a ruler was owed not so much to any supposed defects of his imagined character, as to a combination of circumstances which anyone would have found difficult to control."[31]

    Origin of the jury

    ¥thelred has been credited with the formation of a local investigative body made up of twelve thegns who were charged with publishing the names of any notorious or wicked men in their respective districts. Because the members of these bodies were under solemn oath to act in accordance with the law and their own good consciences, they have been seen by some legal historians as the prototype for the English Grand Jury.[32] ¥thelred makes provision for such a body in a law code he enacted at Wantage in 997, which states:

    ¤µt man habbe gemot on µlcum wµpentace; & gan ut ¤a yldestan XII ¤egnas & se gerefa mid, & swerian on ¤am haligdome, ¤e heom man on hand sylle, ¤µt hig nellan nµnne sacleasan man forsecgean ne nµnne sacne forhelan. & niman ¤onne ¤a tihtbysian men, ¤e mid ¤am gerefan habbaº, & heora µlc sylle VI healfmarc wedd, healf landrican & healf wµpentake.[33]

    that there shall be an assembly in every wapentake,[34] and in that assembly shall go forth the twelve eldest thegns and the reeve along with them, and let them swear on holy relics, which shall be placed in their hands, that they will never knowingly accuse an innocent man nor conceal a guilty man. And thereafter let them seize those notorious [lit. "charge-laden"] men, who have business with the reeve, and let each of them give a security of 6 half-marks, half of which shall go to the lord of that district, and half to the wapentake.

    But the wording here suggests that ¥thelred was perhaps revamping or re-confirming a custom which had already existed. He may actually have been expanding an established English custom for use among the Danish citizens in the North (the Danelaw). Previously, King Edgar had legislated along similar lines in his Whitbordesstan code:

    ic wille, ¤µt µlc mon sy under borge ge binnan burgum ge buton burgum. & gewitnes sy geset to µlcere byrig & to µlcum hundrode. To µlcere byrig XXXVI syn gecorone to gewitnesse; to smalum burgum & to µlcum hundrode XII, buton ge ma willan. & µlc mon mid heora gewitnysse bigcge & sylle µlc ¤ara ceapa, ¤e he bigcge oººe sylle a¤er oººe burge oººe on wµpengetace. & heora µlc, ¤onne hine man µrest to gewitnysse gecysº, sylle ¤µne aº, ¤µt he nµfre, ne for feo ne for lufe ne for ege, ne µtsace nanes ¤ara ¤inga, ¤e he to gewitnysse wµs, & nan oºer ¤ingc on gewitnysse ne cyºe buton ¤µt an, ¤µt he geseah oººe gehyrde. & swa geµ¤dera manna syn on µlcum ceape twegen oººe ¤ry to gewitnysse.[35]

    It is my wish that each person be in surety, both within settled areas and without. And 'witnessing' shall be established in each city and each hundred. To each city let there be 36 chosen for witnessing; to small towns and to each hundred let there be 12, unless they desire more. And everybody shall purchase and sell their goods in the presence a witness, whether he is buying or selling something, whether in a city or a wapentake. And each of them, when they first choose to become a witness, shall give an oath that he will never, neither for wealth nor love nor fear, deny any of those things which he will be a witness to, and will not, in his capacity as a witness, make known any thing except that which he saw and heard. And let there be either two or three of these sworn witnesses at every sale of goods.

    The 'legend' of an Anglo-Saxon origin to the jury was first challenged seriously by Heinrich Brunner in 1872, who claimed that evidence of the jury was only seen for the first time during the reign of Henry II, some 200 years after the end of the Anglo-Saxon period, and that the practice had originated with the Franks, who in turn had influenced the Normans, who thence introduced it to England.[36] Since Brunner's thesis, the origin of the English jury has been much disputed. Throughout the 20th century, legal historians disagreed about whether the practice was English in origin, or was introduced, directly or indirectly, from either Scandinavia or Francia.[32] Recently, the legal historians Patrick Wormald and Michael Macnair have reasserted arguments in favour of finding in practices current during the Anglo-Saxon period traces of the Angevin practice of conducting inquests using bodies of sworn, private witnesses. Wormald has gone as far as to present evidence suggesting that the English practice outlined in ¥thelred's Wantage code is at least as old as, if not older than, 975, and ultimately traces it back to a Carolingian model (something Brinner had done).[37] However, no scholarly consensus has yet been reached.

    Appearance and character

    "[A] youth of graceful manners, handsome countenance and fine person..."[38] as well as "[A] tall, handsome man, elegant in manners, beautiful in countenance and interesting in his deportment."[39]

    Marriages and issue

    ¥thelred married first ¥lfgifu, daughter of Thored, earl of Northumbria, in about 985.[14] Their known children are:

    ¥thelstan ¥theling (died 1014)
    Ecgberht ¥theling (died c. 1005)[40]
    Edmund Ironside (died 1016)
    Eadred ¥theling (died before 1013)
    Eadwig ¥theling (executed by Cnut 1017)
    Edgar ¥theling (died c. 1008)[40]
    Eadgyth or Edith (married Eadric Streona)
    ¥lfgifu (married Uchtred the Bold, ealdorman of Northumbria)
    Wulfhilda? (married Ulfcytel Snillingr)
    Abbess of Wherwell Abbey?
    In 1002 ¥thelred married Emma of Normandy, sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy. Their children were:

    Edward the Confessor (died 1066)
    ¥lfred ¥theling (died 1036–7)
    Goda of England (married 1. Drogo of Mantes and 2. Eustace II, Count of Boulogne)
    All of ¥thelred's sons were named after predecessors of ¥thelred on the throne.[41]

    Old St Paul's Cathedral, London,, now lost

    Aethelred — Aelfgifu of York, Queen consort of England. Aelfgifu (daughter of Thored, Earl of Southern Northumbria and unnamed spouse) was born C. 970, (Yorkshire) England; died 1002. [Group Sheet]

  2. 25.  Aelfgifu of York, Queen consort of England was born C. 970, (Yorkshire) England (daughter of Thored, Earl of Southern Northumbria and unnamed spouse); died 1002.


    ¥lfgifu of York (fl. c. 970 – 1002) was the first wife of ¥thelred the Unready (r. 968–1016), by whom she bore many offspring, including Edmund Ironside. It is most probable that she was a daughter of Thored, Earl of southern Northumbria.

    Queen consort of England
    Tenure 980s–1002
    Born fl. c. 970
    Died c. 1002
    Spouse ¥thelred the Unready
    Issue ¥thelstan ¥theling
    Ecgberht of England
    Edmund, King of England
    Eadred ¥theling
    Eadwig ¥theling
    Edgar of England
    Edith, Lady of the Mercians
    ¥lfgifu, Lady of Northumbria
    Wulfhilda, Lady of East Anglia

    Identity and background

    Her name and paternity do not surface in the sources until sometime after the Conquest. The first to offer any information at all, Sulcard of Westminster (fl. 1080s), merely describes her as being “of very noble English stock” (ex nobilioribus Anglis), without naming her,[1] while in the early 12th century, William of Malmesbury has nothing to report. All primary evidence comes from two Anglo-Norman historians. John of Worcester, also writing in the early 12th century, states that ¥thelred's first wife was ¥lfgifu, daughter of the nobleman ¥thelberht (comes Agelberhtus) and the mother of Edmund, ¥thelstan, Eadwig and Eadgyth.[2] Writing in the 1150s, Ailred of Rievaulx identifies her as a daughter of earl (comes) Thored and the mother of Edmund, though he supplies no name.[3] Ailred had been seneschal at the court of King David I of Scotland (r. 1124–53), whose mother Margaret descended from King ¥thelred and his first wife. Although his testimony is late, his proximity to the royal family may have given him access to genuine information.[4]

    Problem of fatherhood

    These two accounts are irreconcilable at the point of ascribing two different fathers to ¥thelred's first wife (in both cases, Edmund's mother). One way out of it would be to assume the existence of two different wives before the arrival of Queen Emma, ¥thelred's Norman wife, although this interpretation presents difficulties of its own, especially as the sources envisage a single woman.[5] Historians generally favour the view that John of Worcester was in error about the father's name, as ¥thelberht's very existence is under suspicion:[6] if Latin comes is to be interpreted as a gloss on the office of ealdorman, only two doubtful references to one or two duces (ealdormen) of this name can be put forward that would fit the description.[7] All in all, the combined evidence suggests that ¥thelred's first wife was ¥lfgifu, the daughter of Earl Thored. This magnate is likely to have been the Thored who was a son of Gunnar and earl of (southern) Northumbria.[8]

    Marriage and children[edit]
    Based largely on the careers of her sons, ¥lfgifu's marriage has been dated approximately to the (mid-)980s.[8] Considering Thored's authority as earl of York and apparently, the tenure of that office without royal appointment, the union would have signified an important step for the West-Saxon royal family by which it secured a foothold in the north.[9] Such a politically weighty union would help explain the close connections maintained by ¥lfgifu's eldest sons Edmund and ¥thelstan with noble families based in the northern Danelaw.[10]

    The marriage produced six sons, all of whom were named after ¥thelred's predecessors, and an unknown number of daughters. The eldest sons ¥thelstan, Ecgberht, Eadred and Edmund first attest charters in 993, while the younger sons Eadwig and Edgar first make an appearance in them in 997 and 1001 respectively.[11] Some of these sons seem to have spent part of their childhood in fosterage elsewhere, possibly with ¥thelred's mother ¥lfthryth.[12]

    Out of ¥lfgifu's six sons, only Edmund Ironside outlived his father and became king. In 1016 he suffered several defeats against Cnut and in October they agreed to share the kingdom, but Edmund died within six weeks and Cnut became king of all England. ¥thelred gave three of his daughters in marriage to ealdormen, presumably in order to secure the loyalties of his nobles and so to consolidate a defence system against Viking attacks.[13]


    ¥thelstan (born before 993, d. 1014)
    Ecgberht (born before 993, d. 1005)
    Edmund (II) Ironside (born before 993, d. 1016)
    Eadred (d. 1012 x 1015)
    Eadwig (born before 997, exiled and killed 1017)
    Edgar (born before 1001, d. 1012 x 1015)


    Eadgyth (born before 993), married Eadric Streona, ealdorman of Mercia.[14]
    ¥lfgifu, married ealdorman Uhtred of Northumbria.[15]
    (possibly) Wulfhild, who married Ulfcytel (Snillingr) (d. 1016), apparently ealdorman of East Anglia.[16]
    possibly an unnamed daughter who married the ¥thelstan who was killed fighting the Danes at the Battle of Ringmere in 1010. He is called ¥thelred's aºum, meaning either son-in-law or brother-in-law.[16] Ann Williams, however, argues that the latter meaning is the appropriate one and refers to ¥thelstan as being ¥lfgifu's brother.[8]
    possibly unnamed daughter, who became abbess of Wherwell.[17]

    Life and death

    Unlike her mother-in-law, ¥lfthryth, ¥lfgifu was not anointed queen and never signed charters.[18] She did, however, make at least some impression on the contemporary record. In a will issued between 975/980 and 987, the thegn Beorhtric and his wife bequeathed to their “lady” (hlµfdige) an armlet worth 30 gold mancuses and a stallion, calling upon her authority to oversee the implementation of the arrangements set out by will.[19] In a will of later date (AD 990 x 1001), in which she is addressed as “my lady” (mire hlµfdian), the noblewoman ¥thelgifu promised a bequest of 30 mancuses of gold.[20] Just as little is known of ¥lfgifu's life, so the precise date and circumstances of her death cannot be recovered.[21] In any event, she appears to have died by 1002, possibly in childbirth, when ¥thelred took to wife Emma of Normandy, daughter of Count Richard of Rouen, who received or adopted her predecessor's Anglo-Saxon name, ¥lfgifu.

    1. 12. Edmund II, King of the English was born 990, (Wessex) England; died 30 Nov 1016, (London) England; was buried Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, England.

Generation: 6

  1. 48.  Edgar the Peaceful, King of EnglandEdgar the Peaceful, King of England was born Abt 943, (Wessex) England (son of Edmund I, King of the English and Aelfgifu of Shaftsbury); died 8 Jul 0975, Winchester, Hampshire, England; was buried Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, England.

    Other Events:

    • Also Known As: Edgar I the Peaceful
    • Also Known As: Edgar the Peacable


    Edgar (Old English: Eadgar; c.?943—8 July 975), known as the Peaceful or the Peaceable, was King of England from 959 until his death. He was the younger son of Edmund I and ¥lfgifu of Shaftesbury, and came to the throne as a teenager, following the death of his older brother Eadwig. As king, Edgar further consolidated the political unity achieved by his predecessors, with his reign being noted for its relative stability. His most trusted advisor was Dunstan, whom he recalled from exile and made Archbishop of Canterbury. The pinnacle of Edgar's reign was his coronation at Bath in 973, which was organised by Dunstan and forms the basis for the current coronation ceremony. After his death he was succeeded by his son Edward, although the succession was disputed.

    King of the English
    Reign 1 October 959 – 8 July 975
    Predecessor Eadwig
    Successor Edward
    Born 943/944
    Died 8 July 975 (aged 31/32)
    Winchester, Hampshire
    Burial Glastonbury Abbey
    Spouse ¥thelflµd[1]
    Issue Edward, King of England
    ¥thelred, King of England
    House Wessex
    Father Edmund, King of England
    Mother ¥lfgifu of Shaftesbury
    Religion Christianity

    Early years and accession

    Edgar was the son of Edmund I and ¥lfgifu of Shaftesbury. Upon the death of King Edmund in 946, Edgar's uncle, Eadred, ruled until 955. Eadred was succeeded by his nephew, Eadwig, the son of Edmund and Edgar's older brother.

    Eadwig was not a popular king, and his reign was marked by conflict with nobles and the Church, primarily St Dunstan and Archbishop Oda. In 957, the thanes of Mercia and Northumbria changed their allegiance to Edgar.[3] A conclave of nobles declared Edgar as king of the territory north of the Thames.[4] Edgar became King of England upon Eadwig's death in October 959, aged just 16.


    One of Edgar's first actions was to recall Dunstan from exile and have him made Bishop of Worcester (and subsequently Bishop of London and later, Archbishop of Canterbury). Dunstan remained Edgar's advisor throughout his reign. While Edgar may not have been a particularly peaceable man[citation needed], his reign was peaceful. The Kingdom of England was well established, and Edgar consolidated the political unity achieved by his predecessors. By the end of his reign, England was sufficiently unified in that it was unlikely to regress back to a state of division among rival kingships, as it had to an extent under the reign of Eadred. William Blackstone mentions that King Edgar standardised measure throughout the realm.[5] According to George Molyneaux, Edgar's reign, "far more than the reigns of either Alfred or ¥thelstan, was probably the most pivotal phase in the development of the institutional structures that were fundamental to royal rule in the eleventh-century kingdom".[6] Indeed, an early eleventh century king Cnut the Great states in a letter to his subjects that ''it is my will that all the nation, ecclesiastical and lay, shall steadfastly observe Edgar's laws, which all men have chosen and sworn at Oxford''.[7]

    Benedictine reform

    A coin of Edgar, struck in Winchcombe (c. 973-75).
    The Monastic Reform Movement that introduced the Benedictine Rule to England's monastic communities peaked during the era of Dunstan, ¥thelwold, and Oswald (historians continue to debate the extent and significance of this movement).[8]

    Dead Man's Plack

    In 963, Edgar allegedly killed Earl ¥thelwald, his rival in love, near present-day Longparish, Hampshire.[9] The event was commemorated by the Dead Man's Plack, erected in 1825.[9] In 1875, Edward Augustus Freeman debunked the story as a "tissue of romance" in his book, Historic Essays;[10] however, his arguments were rebutted by naturalist William Henry Hudson in his 1920 book Dead Man's Plack and an Old Thorn.[4]

    Coronation at Bath

    Edgar was crowned at Bath and along with his wife ¥lfthryth was anointed, setting a precedent for a coronation of a queen in England itself.[11] Edgar's coronation did not happen until 973, in an imperial ceremony planned not as the initiation, but as the culmination of his reign (a move that must have taken a great deal of preliminary diplomacy). This service, devised by Dunstan himself and celebrated with a poem in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, forms the basis of the present-day British coronation ceremony.

    Main article: King Edgar's council at Chester
    The symbolic coronation was an important step; other kings of Britain came and gave their allegiance to Edgar shortly afterwards at Chester. Six kings in Britain, including the King of Scots and the King of Strathclyde, pledged their faith that they would be the king's liege-men on sea and land. Later chroniclers made the kings into eight, all plying the oars of Edgar's state barge on the River Dee.[12] Such embellishments may not be factual, and what actually happened is unclear.[13]


    Edgar died on 8 July 975 at Winchester, Hampshire. He left behind Edward, who was probably his illegitimate son by ¥thelflµd (not to be confused with the Lady of the Mercians), and ¥thelred, the younger, the child of his wife ¥lfthryth. He was succeeded by Edward. Edgar also had a possibly illegitimate daughter by Wulfthryth, who later became abbess of Wilton. She was joined there by her daughter, Edith of Wilton, who lived there as a nun until her death. Both women were later regarded as saints.[14][15]


    "[H]e was extremely small both in stature and bulk..."[16]

    See also

    House of Wessex family tree;

    Edgar — Aelfthryth. Aelfthryth was born Abt 945; died 1000-1001. [Group Sheet]

  2. 49.  Aelfthryth was born Abt 945; died 1000-1001.
    1. 24. Aethelred the Unready, King of the English was born Abt 966, (Wessex) England; died 23 Apr 1016, London, England; was buried London, England.

  3. 50.  Thored, Earl of Southern Northumbria was born Northumberland, England; died 992-994, Northumberland, England.


    Thored (Old English: £oreº or ´oreº; fl. 979–992) was a 10th-century ealdorman of York, ruler of the southern half of the old Kingdom of Northumbria on behalf of the king of England. He was the son of either Gunnar or Oslac, northern ealdormen. If he was the former, he may have attained adulthood by the 960s, when a man of his name raided Westmorland. Other potential appearances in the records are likewise uncertain until 979, the point from which Thored's period as ealdorman can be accurately dated.

    Although historians differ in their opinions about his relationship, if any, to Kings Edgar the Peaceable and Edward the Martyr, it is generally thought that he enjoyed a good relationship with King ¥thelred II. His daughter ¥lfgifu married ¥thelred. Thored was ealdorman in Northumbria for much of his reign, disappearing from the sources in 992 after being appointed by ¥thelred to lead an expedition against the Vikings.

    Ealdorman of York
    Reign c. 964/974x979–992x994
    Predecessor Oslac (?)
    Successor ¥lfhelm
    Born unknown
    Died 992 or 994
    Burial unknown
    Issue ¥lfgifu (died 1002)
    ¥thelstan (died 1010)
    Father Gunnar (probable)/
    Oslac (potential)
    Mother unknown


    The area shaded under "Jorvik" (York), probably corresponds very roughly with Thored's territory of southern Northumbria; it should be noted that the Danelaw as a territory is a modern construct, though Yorkshire was in the area where Dena lagu ("Scandinavian law") was practised

    Thored appears to have been of at least partially Scandinavian origin, suggested by the title applied to him in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 992. Here, the ealdorman of Hampshire is called by the English title "ealdorman", while Thored himself is styled by the Scandinavian word eorl (i.e. Earl).[1]

    Two accounts of Thored's origins have been offered by modern historians. The first is that he was a son of Oslac, ealdorman of York from 966 until his exile in 975.[2] This argument is partly based on the assertion by the Historia Eliensis, that Oslac had a son named Thorth (i.e. "Thored").[3] The other suggestion, favoured by most historians, is that he was the son of a man named Gunnar.[4] This Gunnar is known to have held land in the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire.[5]

    If the latter suggestion is correct, then Thored's first appearance in history is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recension D (EF)'s entry for 966, which recorded the accession of Oslac to the ealdormanry of southern Northumbria:

    In this year, Thored, Gunnar's son, harried Westmoringa land, and, in this same year, Oslac succeeded to the office of ealdorman.[6]

    The Anglo-Saxon scholar Frank Stenton believed that this was an act of regional faction-fighting, rather than, as had been suggested by others, Thored carrying out the orders of King Edgar the Peaceable.[7] This entry is, incidentally, the first mention of Westmoringa land, that is, Westmorland.[7] Gunnar seems to have been ealdorman earlier in the decade, for in one charter (surviving only in a later cartulary) dated to 963 and three Abingdon charters dated to 965, an ealdorman (dux) called Gunnar is mentioned.[8]

    Thored may be the Thored who appears for the first time in charter attestations during the reign of King Edgar (959–75), his earliest possible appearance being in 964, witnessing a grant of land in Kent by King Edgar to St Peter's, Ghent. This is uncertain because the authenticity of this particular charter is unclear.[9] A charter issued by Edgar in 966, granting land in Oxfordshire to a woman named ¥lfgifu, has an illegible ealdorman witness signature beginning with ´, which may be Thored.[10]


    Coin of ¥thelred the Unready.jpgAethelred rev2.jpg
    O: Draped bust of ¥thelred II left. +¥£ELRED REX ANGLOR R: Long cross. +EAD?OLD MO C¥NT
    'LonCross' penny of ¥thelred II, moneyer Eadwold, Canterbury, c. 997-1003. The cross made cutting the coin into half-pennies or farthings (quarter-pennies) easier. (Note spelling Ead?old in inscription, using Anglo-Saxon letter wynn in place of modern w.)
    Thored's governorship as ealdorman, based on charter attestations, cannot be securely dated before 979.[11] He did attest royal charters during the reign of ¥thelred II, the first in 979,[12] six in 983,[13] one in 984,[14] three in 985,[15] one in 988,[16] appearing in such attestations for the last time in 989.[12] It is possible that such appearances represent more than one Thored, though that is not a generally accepted theory.[17] His definite predecessor, Oslac, was expelled from England in 975.[18] The historian Richard Fletcher thought that Oslac's downfall may have been the result of opposing the succession of Edward the Martyr, enemy and brother of ¥thelred II.[19] What is known about Thored's time as ealdorman is that he did not have a good relationship with Oswald, Archbishop of York (971–92). In a memorandum written by Oswald, a group of estates belonging to the archdiocese of York was listed, and Oswald noted that "I held them all until Thored came to power; then was St Peter [to whom York was dedicated] robbed".[20] One of the estates allegedly lost was Newbald, an estate given by King Edgar to a man named Gunnar, suggesting to historian Dorothy Whitelock that Thored may just have been reclaiming land "wrongly alienated from his family".[21]

    His relationship with King Edgar is unclear, particularly given the uncertainty of Thored's paternity, Oslac being banished from England in 975, the year of Edgar's death.[2] Richard Fletcher, who thought Thored was the son of Gunnar, argued that Thored's raid on Westmorland was caused by resentment derived from losing out on the ealdormanry to Oslac, and that Edgar thereafter confiscated various territories as punishment.[5] The evidence for this is that Newbald, granted by Edgar to Gunnar circa 963, was bought by Archbishop Osketel from the king sometime before 971, implying that the king had seized the land.[5]

    Thored's relationship with the English monarchy under ¥thelred II seems to have been good. ¥lfgifu, the first wife of King ¥thelred II, was probably Thored's daughter.[22] Evidence for this is that in the 1150s Ailred of Rievaulx in his De genealogia regum Anglorum wrote that the wife of ¥thelred II was the daughter of an ealdorman (comes) called Thored (Thorth).[23] Historian Pauline Stafford argued that this marriage was evidence that Thored had been a local rather than royal appointment to the ealdormanry of York, and that ¥thelred II's marriage was an attempt to woo Thored.[24] Stafford was supported in this argument by Richard Fletcher.[25]


    Modern imaginative depiction of the ship of Ólâafr Tryggvason, the "Long Serpent" (Illustration by Halfan Egedius)
    The date of Thored's death is uncertain, but his last historical appearance came in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, recension C (D, E), under the year 992, which reported the death of Archbishop Oswald and an expedition against a marauding Scandinavian fleet:

    In this year the holy Archbishop Oswald left this life and attained the heavenly life, and Ealdorman ¥thelwine [of East Anglia] died in the same year. Then the king and all his counsellors decreed that all the ships that were any use should be assembled at London. And the king then entrusted the expedition to the leadership of Ealdorman ¥lfric (of Hampshire), Earl Thored and Bishop ¥lfstan [.of London or of Rochester.] and Bishop ¥scwig [of Dorchester], and they were to try if they could entrap the Danish army anywhere at sea. Then Ealdorman ¥lfric sent someone to warn the enemy, and then in the night before the day on which they were to have joined battle, he absconded by night from the army, to his own disgrace, and then the enemy escaped, except that the crew of one ship was slain. And then the Danish army encountered the ships from East Anglia and from London, and they made a great slaughter there and captured the ship, all armed and equipped, on which the ealdorman was.[26]

    Scandinavians led by Ólâafr Tryggvason had been raiding England's coast since the previous year, when they killed Ealdorman Brihtnoth of Essex at the Battle of Maldon.[27]

    Historians think that Thored was either killed fighting these Scandinavians, or else survived, but became disgraced through defeat or treachery.[28] Fletcher speculated that Thored was removed from office and replaced by the Mercian ¥lfhelm as a result of his failure against the Scandinavians.[29] Another historian, William Kapelle, believed Thored was removed because of his Scandinavian descent, an argument based on the Worcester Chronicle's claim, added to the text borrowed from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, that Frµna, Godwine and Frythegyst fled a battle against the Danes in the following year because "they were Danish on their father's side".[30]

    A man named ¥thelstan who died at the Battle of Ringmere in 1010, "the king's a¤um", was probably Thored's son.[31] The term a¤um means either "son-in-law" or "brother-in-law", so this ¥thelstan could also have been Thored's grandson by an unknown intermediary.[32] Thored's immediate successor was ¥lfhelm, who appears witnessing charters as ealdorman from 994.[33]

    Thored — unnamed spouse. [Group Sheet]

  4. 51.  unnamed spouse
    1. 25. Aelfgifu of York, Queen consort of England was born C. 970, (Yorkshire) England; died 1002.

Generation: 7

  1. 96.  Edmund I, King of the EnglishEdmund I, King of the English was born 921, Wessex, England (son of Edward the Elder, King of the Anglo-Saxons and Eadgifu of Kent); died 26 May 0946, Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, England; was buried Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, England.


    Edmund I (Old English: Eadmund, pronounced [µ??dmund]; 921 – 26 May 946) was King of the English from 939 until his death. His epithets include the Elder, the Deed-doer, the Just, and the Magnificent.

    Edmund was the son of Edward the Elder and his third wife Eadgifu of Kent, and a grandson of Alfred the Great. His father died when he was young, and was succeeded by his oldest son ¥thelstan. Edmund came to the throne upon the death of his half-brother in 939, apparently with little opposition. His reign was marked by almost constant warfare, including conquests or reconquests of the Midlands, Northumbria, and Strathclyde (the last of which was ceded to Malcolm I of Scotland). Edmund was assassinated after six-and-a-half years as king, while attending mass in Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire. He was initially succeeded by his brother Eadred, but his two sons – Eadwig and Edgar the Peaceful – both later came to the throne.

    King of the English
    Tenure 27 October 939 – 26 May 946
    Coronation c. 29 November 939
    probably at Kingston upon Thames[1]
    Predecessor ¥thelstan
    Successor Eadred
    Born 921
    Wessex, England
    Died 26 May 946 (aged 24–25)
    Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, England
    Burial Glastonbury Abbey
    Spouse ¥lfgifu of Shaftesbury
    ¥thelflµd of Damerham
    Issue Eadwig, King of England
    Edgar, King of England
    House Wessex
    Father Edward the Elder
    Mother Eadgifu of Kent
    Religion Roman Catholic

    Early life and military threats

    Edmund came to the throne as the son of Edward the Elder,[2] and therefore the grandson of Alfred the Great, great-grandson of ¥thelwulf of Wessex and great-great grandson of Egbert of Wessex, who was the first of the house of Wessex to start dominating the Anglo Saxon realms. However, being born when his father was already a middle aged man, Edmund lost his father when he was a toddler, in 924, which saw his 30 year old half brother Athelstan come to the throne. Edmund would grow up in the reign of Athelstan, even participating in the Battle of Brunanburgh in his adolescence in 937.[citation needed]

    Athelstan died in the year 939, which saw young Edmund come to the throne. Shortly after his proclamation as king, he had to face several military threats. King Olaf III Guthfrithson conquered Northumbria and invaded the Midlands; when Olaf died in 942, Edmund reconquered the Midlands.[2] In 943, Edmund became the god-father of King Olaf of York. In 944, Edmund was successful in reconquering Northumbria.[3] In the same year, his ally Olaf of York lost his throne and left for Dublin in Ireland. Olaf became the king of Dublin as Amlaâib Cuarâan and continued to be allied to his god-father. In 945, Edmund conquered Strathclyde but ceded the territory to King Malcolm I of Scotland in exchange for a treaty of mutual military support.[3] Edmund thus established a policy of safe borders and peaceful relationships with Scotland. During his reign, the revival of monasteries in England began.

    Louis IV of France

    One of Edmund's last political movements of which there is some knowledge is his role in the restoration of Louis IV of France to the throne. Louis, son of Charles the Simple and Edmund's half-sister Eadgifu, had resided at the West-Saxon court for some time until 936, when he returned to be crowned King of France. In the summer of 945, he was captured by the Norsemen of Rouen and subsequently released to Duke Hugh the Great, who held him in custody. The chronicler Richerus claims that Eadgifu wrote letters both to Edmund and to Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor in which she requested support for her son. Edmund responded to her plea by sending angry threats to Hugh.[4] Flodoard's Annales, one of Richerus' sources, report:

    Edmund, king of the English, sent messengers to Duke Hugh about the restoration of King Louis, and the duke accordingly made a public agreement with his nephews and other leading men of his kingdom. [...] Hugh, duke of the Franks, allying himself with Hugh the Black, son of Richard, and the other leading men of the kingdom, restored to the kingdom King Louis.[5][6]

    Death and succession

    On 26 May 946, Edmund was murdered by Leofa, an exiled thief, while attending St Augustine's Day mass in Pucklechurch (South Gloucestershire).[7] John of Worcester and William of Malmesbury add some lively detail by suggesting that Edmund had been feasting with his nobles, when he spotted Leofa in the crowd. He attacked the intruder in person, but in the event, Leofa killed him. Leofa was killed on the spot by those present.[8] A recent article re-examines Edmund's death and dismisses the later chronicle accounts as fiction. It suggests the king was the victim of a political assassination.[9]

    Edmund's sister Eadgyth, the wife of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, died earlier the same year, as Flodoard's Annales for 946 report.[10]

    Edmund was succeeded as king by his brother Eadred, king from 946 until 955. Edmund's sons later ruled England as:

    Eadwig, King of England from 955 until 957, king of only Wessex and Kent from 957 until his death on 1 October 959.
    Edgar the Peaceful, king of Mercia and Northumbria from 957 until his brother's death in 959, then king of England from 959 until 975.


    Edmund — Aelfgifu of Shaftsbury. Aelfgifu was born (C. 0914); died 944; was buried Shaftesbury Abbey, Dorset, England. [Group Sheet]

  2. 97.  Aelfgifu of Shaftsbury was born (C. 0914); died 944; was buried Shaftesbury Abbey, Dorset, England.

    Other Events:

    • Also Known As: Saint Elgiva


    Saint ¥lfgifu of Shaftesbury, also known as Saint Elgiva[1] (died 944) was the first wife of Edmund I (r. 939–946), by whom she bore two future kings, Eadwig (r. 955–959) and Edgar (r. 959–975). Like her mother Wynflaed, she had a close and special if unknown connection with the royal nunnery of Shaftesbury (Dorset), founded by King Alfred,[2] where she was buried and soon revered as a saint. According to a pre-Conquest tradition from Winchester, her feast day is 18 May.[3][4]

    Queen consort of England
    Tenure 939 - 944
    Died 944
    Burial Shaftesbury Abbey
    Spouse Edmund I, King of England
    Issue Eadwig, King of England
    Edgar, King of England
    Mother Wynflaed

    Family background

    Will of Wynflµd (British Library Cotton Charters viii. 38)[5]
    Her mother appears to have been an associate of Shaftesbury Abbey called Wynflaed (also Wynnflµd). The vital clue comes from a charter of King Edgar, in which he confirmed the grant of an estate at Uppidelen (Piddletrenthide, Dorset) made by his grandmother (ava) Wynflµd to Shaftesbury.[6] She may well be the nun or vowess (religiosa femina) of this name in a charter dated 942 and preserved in the abbey's chartulary. It records that she received and retrieved from King Edmund a handful of estates in Dorset, namely Cheselbourne and Winterbourne Tomson, which somehow ended up in the possession of the community.[7]

    Since no father or siblings are known, further speculation on ¥lfgifu's background has largely depended on the identity of her mother, whose relatively uncommon name has invited further guesswork. H. P. R. Finberg suggests that she was the Wynflµd who drew up a will, supposedly sometime in the mid-10th century, after ¥lfgifu's death. This lady held many estates scattered across Wessex (in Somerset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and Hampshire) and was well connected with the nunneries at Wilton and Shaftesbury, both of which were royal foundations. On that basis, a number of relatives have been proposed for ¥lfgifu, including a sister called ¥thelflµd, a brother called Eadmµr, and a grandmother called Brihtwyn.[8]

    There is, however, no consensus among scholars about Finberg's suggestion. Simon Keynes and Gale R. Owen object that there is no sign of royal relatives or connections in Wynflµd's will and Finberg's assumptions about ¥lfgifu's family therefore stand on shaky ground.[9] Andrew Wareham is less troubled about this and suggests that different kinship strategies may account for it.[10] Much of the issue of identification also seems to hang on the number of years by which Wynflµd can plausibly have outlived her daughter. In this light, it is significant that on palaeographical grounds, David Dumville has rejected the conventional date of c. 950 for the will, which he considers “speculative and too early” (and that one Wynflµd was still alive in 967).[11]

    Married life

    The sources do not record the date of ¥lfgifu's marriage to Edmund. The eldest son Eadwig, who had barely reached majority on his accession in 955, may have been born around 940, which gives us only a very rough terminus ante quem for the betrothal. Although as the mother of two future kings, ¥lfgifu proved to be an important royal bed companion, there is no strictly contemporary evidence that she was ever consecrated as queen. In a charter of doubtful authenticity dated 942-946, she attests as the king's concubine (concubina regis).[12] but later in the century ¥thelweard the Chronicler styles her queen (regina).

    The remains of the Norman buildings which replaced the earlier ones at Shaftesbury Abbey.
    Much of ¥lfgifu's claim to fame derives from her association with Shaftesbury. Her patronage of the community is suggested by a charter of King ¥thelred, dated 984, according to which the abbey exchanged with King Edmund the large estate at Tisbury (Wiltshire) for Butticanlea (unidentified). ¥lfgifu received it from her husband and intended to bequeath it back to the nunnery, but such had not yet come to pass (her son Eadwig demanded that Butticanlea was returned to the royal family first).[13]

    ¥lfgifu predeceased her husband in 944.[14] In the early 12th century, William of Malmesbury wrote that she suffered from an illness during the last few years of her life, but there may have been some confusion with details of ¥thelgifu's life as recorded in a forged foundation charter of the late 11th or 12th century (see below).[15] Her body was buried and enshrined at the nunnery.[16]


    ¥lfgifu was venerated as a saint soon after her burial at Shaftesbury. ¥thelweard reports that many miracles had taken place at her tomb up to his day,[17] and these were apparently attracting some local attention. Lantfred of Winchester, who wrote in the 970's and so can be called the earliest known witness of her cult, tells of a young man from Collingbourne (possibly Collingbourne Kingston, Wiltshire), who in the hope of being cured of blindness travelled to Shaftesbury and kept vigil. What led him there was the reputation of “the venerable St ¥lfgifu [...] at whose tomb many bodies of sick person receive medication through the omnipotence of God”.[18] Despite the new prominence of Edward the Martyr as a saint interred at Shaftesbury, her cult continued to flourish in later Anglo-Saxon England, as evidenced by her inclusion in a list of saints' resting places, at least 8 pre-Conquest calendars and 3 or 4 litanies from Winchester.[19]

    ¥lfgifu is styled a saint (Sancte ¥lfgife) in the D-text of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (mid-11th century) at the point where it specifies Eadwig's and Edgar's royal parentage.[20] Her cult may have been fostered and used to enhance the status of the royal lineage, more narrowly that of her descendants.[21] Lantfred attributes her healing power both to her own merits and those of her son Edgar. It may have been due to her association that in 979 the supposed body of her murdered grandson Edward the Martyr was exhumed and in a spectacular ceremony, received at the nunnery of Shaftesbury, under the supervision of ealdorman ¥lfhere.[22]

    According to William of Malmesbury, ¥lfgifu would secretly redeem those who were publicly condemned to severe judgment, she gave expensive clothes to the poor, and she also had prophetic powers as well as powers of healing. [23]

    ¥lfgifu's fame at Shaftesbury seems to have eclipsed that of its first abbess, King Alfred's daughter ¥thelgifu,[24] so much so perhaps that William of Malmesbury wrote contradictory reports on the abbey's early history. In the Gesta regum, he correctly identifies the first abbess as Alfred's daughter, following Asser, although he gives her the name of ¥lfgifu (Elfgiva),[25] while in his Gesta pontificum, he credits Edmund's wife ¥lfgifu with the foundation.[26] Either William encountered conflicting information, or he meant to say that ¥lfgifu refounded the nunnery.[27] In any event, William would have had access to local traditions at Shaftesbury, since he probably wrote a now lost metrical Life for the community, a fragment of which he included in his Gesta pontificum:[28]

    Latin text Translation
    Nam nonnullis passa annis morborum molestiam,
    defecatam et excoctam Deo dedit animam.
    Functas ergo uitae fato beatas exuuias
    infinitis clemens signis illustrabat Deitas.
    Inops uisus et auditus si adorant tumulum,
    sanitati restituti probant sanctae meritum.
    Rectum gressum refert domum qui accessit loripes,
    mente captus redit sanus, boni sensus locuples

    For some years she suffered from illness,
    And gave to God a soul that it had purged and purified
    When she died, God brought lustre to her blessed remains
    In his clemency with countless miracles.
    If a blind man or a deaf worship at her tomb,
    They are restored to health and prove the saint's merits.
    He who went there lame comes home firm of step,
    The madman returns sane, rich in good sense.[29]

    See also

    ¥lfgifu of Exeter;

    1. 48. Edgar the Peaceful, King of England was born Abt 943, (Wessex) England; died 8 Jul 0975, Winchester, Hampshire, England; was buried Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, England.

Generation: 8

  1. 192.  Edward the Elder, King of the Anglo-SaxonsEdward the Elder, King of the Anglo-Saxons was born C. 874, (Wantage, Berkshire) England (son of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and Ealhswith); died 17 Jul 0924, Farndon, Cheshire, England; was buried Winchester, Hampshire, England.


    Edward the Elder (c. 874 – 17 July 924) was King of the Anglo-Saxons from 899 until his death. He was the elder son of Alfred the Great and his wife Ealhswith. When Edward succeeded, he had to defeat a challenge from his cousin ¥thelwold, who had a strong claim to the throne as the son of Alfred's elder brother and predecessor as king, ¥thelred.

    Alfred had succeeded ¥thelred as king of Wessex in 871, and almost faced defeat against the Danish Vikings until his decisive victory at the Battle of Edington in 878. After the battle, the Vikings still ruled Northumbria, East Anglia and eastern Mercia, with only Wessex and western Mercia under Anglo-Saxon control. In the early 880s ¥thelred, Lord of the Mercians, the ruler of western Mercia, accepted Alfred's lordship and married his daughter ¥thelflµd, and around 886 Alfred adopted the new title 'King of the Anglo-Saxons' as the ruler of all Anglo-Saxons not subject to Danish rule.

    In 910 a Mercian and West Saxon army inflicted a decisive defeat on an invading Northumbrian army, ending the threat from the northern Vikings. In the 910s, Edward conquered Viking ruled southern England in partnership with his sister ¥thelflµd, who had succeeded as Lady of the Mercians following the death of her husband in 911. Historians dispute how far Mercia was dominated by Wessex during this period, and after ¥thelflµd's death in June 918 her daughter ¥lfwynn briefly became second Lady of the Mercians, but in December Edward took her into Wessex and imposed direct rule on Mercia. By the end of the 910s he ruled Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia, and only Northumbria remained under Viking rule. In 924 he faced a Mercian and Welsh revolt at Chester, and after putting it down he died at Farndon in Cheshire on 17 July 924. He was succeeded by his eldest son ¥thelstan.

    Edward has been described as "perhaps the most neglected of English kings", partly because few primary sources for his reign survive. His reputation among historians rose in the late twentieth century, and he is seen as destroying the power of the Vikings in southern England, and laying the foundations for a south-centred united English kingdom.

    King of the Anglo-Saxons
    Reign 26 October 899 – 17 July 924
    Coronation 8 June 900 Kingston upon Thames or Winchester
    Predecessor Alfred the Great
    Successor ¥thelstan
    Born c.?874
    Died 17 July 924
    Farndon, Cheshire, England
    Burial New Minster, Winchester, later translated to Hyde Abbey
    Spouse Ecgwynn
    See list[show]
    House Wessex
    Father Alfred the Great
    Mother Ealhswith


    Mercia was the dominant kingdom in southern England in the eighth century and maintained its position until it suffered a decisive defeat by Wessex at the Battle of Ellandun in 825. Thereafter the two kingdoms became allies, which was to be an important factor in English resistance to the Vikings.[1] In 865 the Danish Viking Great Heathen Army landed in East Anglia and used this as a starting point for an invasion. The East Anglians were forced to buy peace and the following year the Vikings invaded Northumbria, where they appointed a puppet king in 867. They then moved on Mercia, where they spent the winter of 867–868. King Burgred of Mercia was joined by King ¥thelred of Wessex and his brother, the future King Alfred, for a combined attack on the Vikings, who refused an engagement; in the end the Mercians bought peace with them. The following year, the Danes conquered East Anglia, and in 874 they expelled King Burgred, and Ceolwulf became the last King of Mercia with their support. In 877 the Vikings partitioned Mercia, taking the eastern regions for themselves and allowing Ceolwulf to keep the western ones. The situation was transformed the following year when Alfred won a decisive victory over the Danes at the Battle of Edington. He was thus able to prevent the Vikings from taking Wessex and western Mercia, although they still occupied Northumbria, East Anglia and eastern Mercia.[2]


    A page from the will of Alfred the Great, which left the bulk of his estate to Edward
    Alfred the Great married Ealhswith in 868. Her father was ¥thelred Mucel, Ealdorman of the Gaini, and her mother, Eadburh, was a member of the Mercian royal family. Alfred and Ealhswith had five children who survived childhood. The oldest was ¥thelflµd, who married ¥thelred, Lord of the Mercians, and ruled as Lady of the Mercians after his death. Edward was next, and the second daughter, ¥thelgifu, became abbess of Shaftesbury. The third daughter, ¥lfthryth, married Baldwin, Count of Flanders, and the younger son, ¥thelweard, was given a scholarly education, including learning Latin. This would usually suggest that he was intended for the church, but it is unlikely in ¥thelweard's case as he had sons. There were also an unknown number of children who died young. Neither part of Edward's name, which means 'protector of wealth', had been used previously by the West Saxon royal house, and Barbara Yorke suggests that he may have been named after his maternal grandmother Eadburh, reflecting the West Saxon policy of strengthening links with Mercia.[3]

    ¥thelflµd was probably born about a year after her parents' marriage, and Edward was brought up with his youngest sister, ¥lfthryth. Yorke argues that he was therefore probably nearer in age to ¥lfthryth than ¥thelflµd. However, he led troops in battle in 893, and he must have been of marriagable age in that year as his oldest son ¥thelstan was born about 894, so Edward was probably born in the mid-870s.[4] According to Asser in his Life of King Alfred, Edward and ¥lfthryth were educated at court by male and female tutors, and read ecclesiastical and secular works in English, such as the Psalms and Old English poems. They were taught the courtly qualities of gentleness and humility, and Asser wrote that they were obedient to their father and friendly to visitors. This is the only known case of an Anglo-Saxon prince and princess receiving the same upbringing.[5]


    As a son of a king, Edward was an µtheling, a prince of the royal house who was eligible for kingship. However, even though he had the advantage of being the eldest son of the reigning king, his accession was not assured, as he had cousins who had a strong claim to the throne. ¥thelhelm and ¥thelwold were sons of ¥thelred, Alfred's older brother and predecessor as king, but they had been passed over because they were infants when their father died. More is known about Edward's childhood than about that of other Anglo-Saxon princes, providing information about the training of a prince in a period of Carolingian influence, and Yorke suggest that we may know so much due to Alfred's efforts to portray his son as the most throneworthy µtheling.[6]

    ¥thelhelm is only recorded in Alfred's will of the mid-880s, and probably died at some time in the next decade, but ¥thelwold is listed above Edward in the only charter where he appears, probably indicating a higher status. ¥thelwold may also have had an advantage because his mother Wulfthryth witnessed a charter as queen, whereas Edward's mother Ealhswith never had a higher status than king's wife.[7] However, Alfred was in a position to give his own son considerable advantages. In his will, he only left a handful of estates to his brother's sons, and the bulk of his property to Edward, including all his booklands (landed vested in a charter which could be alienated by the holder, as opposed to folkland, which had to pass to heirs of the body) in Kent.[8] Alfred also advanced men who could be depended on to support his plans for his succession, such as his brother-in-law, a Mercian ealdorman called ¥thelwulf, and his son-in-law ¥thelred. Edward witnessed several of his father's charters, and often accompanied him on royal peregrinations.[9] In a Kentish charter of 898 Edward witnessed as rex Saxonum, suggesting that Alfred may have followed the strategy adopted by his grandfather Egbert of strengthening his son's claim to succeed to the West Saxon throne by making him sub-king of Kent.[10]

    Once Edward grew up Alfred was able to give him military commands and experience of royal business.[11] The English defeated renewed Viking attacks in 893 to 896, and in Richard Abels' view, the glory belonged to ¥thelred and Edward rather than Alfred himself. In 893 Edward defeated the Vikings in the Battle of Farnham, although he was unable to follow up his victory as his troops' period of service had expired and he had to release them. The situation was saved by the arrival of troops from London led by ¥thelred.[12] Yorke argues that although Alfred packed the witan with members whose interests lay in the continuation of Alfred's line, that may not have been sufficient to ensure Edward's accession if he had not displayed his fitness for kingship.[13]

    In about 893 Edward probably married Ecgwynn, who bore him two children, the future King ¥thelstan and a daughter who married Sitric, a Viking King of York. The twelfth-century chronicler William of Malmesbury described Ecgwynn as an illustris femina, and stated that Edward chose ¥thelstan as his heir as king. She may have been related to St Dunstan, the aristocratic tenth-century Archbishop of Canterbury. However, William also stated that ¥thelstan's accession in 924 was opposed by a nobleman who claimed that his mother was a concubine of low birth.[14] The suggestion that Ecgwynn was Edward's mistress is accepted by some historians such as Simon Keynes and Richard Abels,[15] but Yorke and ¥thelstan's biographer, Sarah Foot, disagree, arguing that the allegations should be seen in the context of the disputed succession in 924, and were not an issue in the 890s.[16] Ecgwynn probably died by 899, as around the time of Alfred's death Edward married ¥lfflµd, the daughter of Ealdorman ¥thelhelm, probably of Wiltshire.[17]

    Janet Nelson suggests that there was conflict between Alfred and Edward in the 890s. She points out that the contemporary Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, produced under court auspices in the 890s, does not mention Edward's military successes. These are only known from the late tenth century chronicle of ¥thelweard, such as his account of the Battle of Farnham, in which in Nelson's view "Edward's military prowess, and popularity with a following of young warriors, are highlighted". Towards the end of his life Alfred invested his young grandson ¥thelstan in a ceremony which historians see as designation as eventual successor to the kingship. Nelson argues that while this may have been proposed by Edward to support the accession of his own son, on the other hand it may have been intended by Alfred as part of a scheme to divide the kingdom between his son and grandson. ¥thelstan was sent to be brought up in Mercia by ¥thelflµd and ¥thelred, but it is not known whether this was Alfred's idea or Edward's. Alfred's wife Ealhswith was ignored in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in her husband's lifetime, but emerged from obscurity when her son acceded. This may be because she supported her son against her husband.[18]

    ¥thelwold's revolt

    Further information: ¥thelwold's Revolt;

    Coin of Edward the Elder
    Alfred died on 26 October 899 and Edward succeeded to the throne, but ¥thelwold disputed the succession.[19] He seized the royal estates of Wimborne, symbolically important as the place where his father was buried, and Christchurch. Edward marched with his army to the nearby Iron Age hillfort at Badbury Rings. ¥thelwold declared that he would live or die at Wimborne, but then left in the night and rode to Northumbria, where the Danes accepted him as king.[20] Edward was crowned on 8 June 900 at Kingston upon Thames or Winchester.[a]

    In 901, ¥thelwold came with a fleet to Essex, and the following year he persuaded the East Anglian Danes to invade English Mercia and northern Wessex, where his army looted and then returned home. Edward retaliated by ravaging East Anglia, but when he retreated the men of Kent disobeyed the order to retire, and were intercepted by the Danish army. The two sides met at the Battle of the Holme (perhaps Holme in Huntingdonshire) on 13 December 902. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Danes "kept the place of slaughter", meaning that they won the battle, but they suffered heavy losses, including ¥thelwold and a King Eohric, possibly of the East Anglian Danes. Kentish losses included Sigehelm, ealdorman of Kent and father of Edward's third wife, Eadgifu. ¥thelwold's death ended the threat to Edward's throne.[22]

    King of the Anglo-Saxons

    In London in 886 Alfred had received the formal submission of "all the English people that were not under subjection to the Danes", and thereafter he adopted the title Anglorum Saxonum rex (King of the Anglo-Saxons), which is used in his later charters and all but two of Edward's. This is seen by Keynes as "the invention of a wholly new and distinctive polity", covering both West Saxons and Mercians, which was inherited by Edward with the support of Mercians at the West Saxon court, of whom the most important was Plegmund, Archbishop of Canterbury. In 903 Edward issued several charters concerning land in Mercia. Three of them are witnessed by the Mercian leaders and their daughter ¥lfwynn, and they all contain a statement that ¥thelred and ¥thelflµd "then held rulership and power over the race of the Mercians, under the aforesaid king". Other charters were issued by the Mercian leades which did not contain any acknowledgment of Edward's authority, but they did not issue their own coinage.[23] This view of Edward's status is accepted by Martin Ryan, who states that ¥thelred and ¥thelflµd had "a considerable but ultimately subordinate share of royal authority" in English Mercia.[24]

    Other historians disagree. Pauline Stafford describes ¥thelflµd as "the last Mercian queen",[25] while in Charles Insley's view Mercia kept its independence until ¥thelflµd's death in 918.[26] Michael Davidson contrasts the 903 charters with one of 901 in which the Mercian rulers were "by grace of God, holding, governing and defending the monarchy of the Mercians". Davidson comments that "the evidence for Mercian subordination is decidedly mixed. Ultimately, the ideology of the 'Kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons' may have been less successful in achieving the absorption of Mercia and more something which I would see as a murky political coup." The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was compiled at the West Saxon court from the 890s, and the entries for the late ninth and early tenth centuries are seen by historians as reflecting the West Saxon viewpoint; Davidson observes that "Alfred and Edward possessed skilled 'spin doctors'".[27] However, some versions of the Chronicle incorporate part of a lost Mercian Register, which gives a Mercian perspective and details of ¥thelfµd's campaign against the Vikings.[24]

    In the late ninth and early tenth centuries connection with the West Saxon royal house was seen as prestigious by continental rulers. In the mid-890s Alfred had married his daughter ¥lfthryth to Baldwin II of Flanders, and in 919 Edward married his daughter Eadgifu to Charles the Simple, King of West Francia. In 925, after Edward's death, another daughter Eadgyth married Otto, the future King of Germany and (after Eadgyth's death) Holy Roman Emperor.[28]

    Conquest of the southern Danelaw

    No battles are recorded between the Anglo-Saxons and the Danish Vikings for several years after the Battle of the Holme, but in 906 Edward agreed peace with the East Anglian and Northumbrian Danes, suggesting that there had been conflict. According to one version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle he made peace "of necessity", which implies that he was forced to buy them off.[19] He encouraged Englishmen to purchase land in Danish territory, and two charters survive relating to estates in Bedfordshire and Derbyshire.[29] In 909 Edward sent a combined West Saxon and Mercian army which harassed the Northumbria]]n Danes, and seized the bones of the Northumbrian royal saint Oswald from Bardney Abbey in [[Lincolnshire. Oswald was translated to a new Mercian minster established by ¥thelred and ¥thelfµd in Gloucester and the Danes were compelled to accept peace on Edward's terms.[30] In the following year, the Northumbrian Danes retaliated by raiding Mercia, but on their way home they were met by a combined Mercian and West Saxon army at the Battle of Tettenhall, where the Vikings suffered a disastrous defeat. After that, the Northumbrian Danes never ventured south of the River Humber, and Edward and his Mercian allies were able to concentrate on conquering the southern Danelaw in East Anglia and the Five Boroughs of Viking east Mercia: Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford.[19] In 911 ¥thelred, Lord of the Mercians, died, and Edward took control of the Mercian lands around London and Oxford. ¥thelred was succeeded as ruler by his widow ¥thelflµd as Lady of the Mercians, and she had probably been acting as ruler for several years as ¥thelred seems to have been incapacitated in later life.[31]

    Edward and ¥thelflµd then began the construction of fortresses to guard against Viking attacks and protect territory captured from them. In November 911 he constructed a fort on the north bank of the River Lea at Hertford to guard against attack by the Danes of Bedford and Cambridge. In 912 he marched with his army to Maldon in Essex, and ordered the building of a fort at Witham and a second fort at Hertford, which protected London from attack and encouraged many English living under Danish rule in Essex to submit to him. In 913 there was a pause in his activities, although ¥thelflµd continued her fortress building in Mercia.[32] In 914 a Viking army sailed from Brittany and ravaged the Severn estuary. It then attacked Ergyng in south-east Wales (now Archenfield in Herefordshire) and captured Bishop Cyfeilliog. Edward ransomed him for the large sum of forty pounds of silver. The Vikings were defeated by the armies of Hereford and Gloucester, and gave hostages and oaths to keep the peace. Edward kept an army on the south side of the estuary in case the Vikings broke their promises, and he twice had to repel attacks. In the autumn the Vikings moved on to Ireland. The episode suggests that south-east Wales fell within the West Saxon sphere of power, unlike Brycheiniog just to the north, where Mercia was dominant.[33] In late 914 Edward built two forts at Buckingham, and Earl Thurketil, the leader of the Danish army at Bedford submitted to him. The following year he occupied Bedford, and constructed another fortification on the south bank of the River Great Ouse against a Viking one on the north bank. In 916 Edward returned to Essex and built a fort at Maldon to bolster the defence of Witham. He also helped Earl Thurketil and his followers to leave England, reducing the number of Viking armies in the Midlands.[34]

    The decisive year in the war was 917. In April Edward built a fort at Towcester as a defence against the Danes of Northampton, and another at an unidentified place called Wigingamere. The Danes launched unsuccessful attacks on Towcester, Bedford and Wigingamere, while ¥thelflµd captured Derby, showing the value of the English defensive measures, which were aided by disunity and a lack of coordination among the Viking armies. The Danes had built their own fortress at Tempsford in Bedfordshire, but at the end of the summer the English stormed it and killed the last Danish king of East Anglia. The English then took Colchester, although they did not try to hold it. The Danes retaliated by sending a large army to lay siege to Maldon, but the garrison held out until it was relieved and the retreating army was heavily defeated. Edward then returned to Towcester and reinforced its fort with a stone wall, and the Danes of nearby Northampton submitted to him. The armies of Cambridge and East Anglia also submitted, and by the end of the year the only Danish armies still holding out were those of four of the Five Boroughs, Leicester, Stamford, Nottingham, and Lincoln.[35]

    In early 918, ¥thelflµd secured the submission of Leicester without a fight, and the Danes of Northumbrian York offered her their allegiance, probably for protection against Norse (Norwegian) Vikings who had invaded Northumbria from Ireland, but she died on 12 June before she could take up the proposal. The same offer is not known to have been made to Edward, and the Norse Vikings took York in 919. According to the main West Saxon version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, after ¥thelflµd's death the Mercians submitted to Edward, but the Mercian version (the Mercian Register) states that in December 918 her daughter ¥lfwynn, "was deprived of all authority in Mercia and taken into Wessex". Mercia may have made a bid for continued semi-independence which was suppressed by Edward, and it then came under his direct rule. Stamford had surrendered to Edward before ¥thelflµd's death, and Nottingham did the same shortly afterwards. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 918, "all the people who had settled in Mercia, both Danish and English, submitted to him". This would mean that he ruled all England south of the Humber, but it is not clear whether Lincoln was an exception, as coins of Viking York in the early 920s were probably minted at Lincoln.[36] Some Danish jarls were allowed to keep their estates, although Edward probably also rewarded his supporters with land, and some he kept in his own hands. Coin evidence suggests that his authority was stronger in the East Midlands than in East Anglia.[37] Three Welsh kings, Hywel Dda, Clydog and Idwal Foel, who had previously been subject to ¥thelflµd, now gave their allegiance to Edward.[38]


    The principal currency was the silver penny, and some coins carried a stylised portrait of the king. Royal coins had "EADVVEARD REX" on the obverse and the name of the moneyer on the reverse. The places of issue were not shown in his reign, but they were in that of his son ¥thelstan, allowing the location of many moneyers of Edward's reign to be established. There were mints in Bath, Canterbury, Chester, Chichester, Derby, Exeter, Hereford, London, Oxford, Shaftesbury, Shrewsbury, Southampton, Stafford, Wallingford, Wareham, Winchester and probably other towns. No coins were struck in the name of ¥thelred or ¥thelflµd, but from around 910 mints in English Mercia produced coins with an unusual decorative design on the reverse. This ceased before 920, and probably represents ¥thelflµd's way of distinguishing her coinage from that of her brother. There was also a minor issue of coins in the name of Plegmund, Archbishop of Canterbury. There was a dramatic increase in the number of moneyers over Edward's reign, with less than 25 in the south in the first ten years rising to 67 in the last ten years, around 5 in English Mercia rising to 23, plus 27 in the conquered Danelaw.[39]


    In 908, Plegmund conveyed the alms of the English king and people to the Pope, the first visit to Rome by an Archbishop of Canterbury for almost a century, and the journey may have been to seek papal approval for a proposed re-organisation of the West Saxon sees.[40] When Edward came to the throne Wessex had two dioceses, Winchester, held by Denewulf, and Sherborne, held by Asser.[41] In 908 Denewulf died and was replaced the following year by Frithestan; soon afterwards Winchester was divided into two sees, with the creation of the diocese of Ramsbury covering Wiltshire and Berkshire, while Winchester was left with Hampshire and Surrrey. Forged charters date the division to 909, but this may not be correct. Asser died in the same year, and at some date between 909 and 918 Sherborne was divided into three sees, with Crediton covering Devon and Cornwall, and Wells covering Somerset, while Sherborne was left with Dorset.[42] The effect of the changes were to strengthen the status of Canterbury compared with Winchester and Sherborne, but the division may have been related to a change in the secular functions of West Saxon bishops, to become agents of royal government in shires rather than provinces, assisting in defence and taking part in shire courts.[43]

    At the beginning of Edward's reign, his mother Ealhswith founded the abbey of St Mary for nuns, known as the Nunnaminster, in Winchester.[44] Edward's daughter Eadburh became a nun there, and she was venerated as a saint and the subject of a hagiography by Osbert of Clare in the twelfth century.[45] In 901 Edward started building a major monastery for men, probably in accordance of his father's wishes. The monastery was next to Winchester Cathedral, which became known as the Old Minster, while Edward's foundation was called the New Minster. It was much larger than the Old Minster, and was probably intended as a royal mausoleum.[46] It acquired relics of the Breton Saint Judoc, which probably arrived in England from Ponthieu in 901, and the body of one of Alfred's closest advisers, Grimbald, who died in the same year and who was soon venerated as a saint. Edward's mother died in 902, and he buried her and Alfred there, moving his father's body from the Old Minster. Burials in the early 920s included Edward himself, his brother ¥thelweard, and his son ¥lfweard. However, when ¥thelstan became king in 924, he did not show any favour to his father's foundation, probably because Winchester sided against him when the throne was disputed after Edward's death. The only other king buried at the New Minster was Eadwig in 959.[47]

    Edward's decision not to expand the Old Minster, but rather to overshadow it with a much larger building, suggests animosity towards Bishop Denewulf, and this was compounded by forcing the Old Minster to cede both land for the new site, and an estate of 70 hides at Beddington to provide an income for the New Minster. Edward was remembered by the New Minster as a benefactor, but at the Old Minster as rex avidus (greedy king).[48] Alan Thacker comments:

    Edward's method of endowing New Minster was of a piece with his ecclesiastical policy in general. Like his father he gave little to the church — indeed, judging by the dearth of charters for much of his reign he seems to have given away little at all...More than any other, Edward's kingship seems to epitomise the new hard-nosed monarchy of Wessex, determined to exploit all its resources, lay and ecclesiastical, for its own benefit.[49]
    Patrick Wormald observes: "The thought occurs that neither Alfred nor Edward was greatly beloved at Winchester Cathedral; and one reason for Edward's moving his father's body into the new family shrine next door was that he was surer of sincere prayers there."[50]

    Learning and culture

    The standard of Anglo-Saxon learning declined severely in the ninth century, particularly in Wessex, and Mercian scholars such as Plegmund played a prominent part in the revival of learning initiated by Alfred. Mercians were prominent at the courts of Alfred and Edward, and the Mercian dialect and scholarship commanded West Saxon respect.[51] It is uncertain how far Alfred's programmes continued during his son's reign. English translations of works in Latin made during Alfred's reign continued to be copied, but few original works are known. The script known as Anglo-Saxon Square minuscule reached maturity in the 930s, and its earliest phases date to Edward's reign. The main scholarly and scriptorial centres were the cathedral centres of Canterbury, Winchester and Worcester; monasteries did not make a significant contribution until ¥thelstan's reign.[52] Very little survives of the manuscript production of Edward's reign.[53]

    The only surviving large scale embroideries which were certainly made in Anglo-Saxon England date to Edward's reign. They are a stole, a maniple and a possible girdle removed from the shrine of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral in the nineteenth century. They were donated to the shrine by ¥thelstan in 934, but inscriptions on the embroideries show that they were commissioned by Edward's second wife, ¥lfflµd, as a gift to Frithestan, Bishop of Winchester. They probably did not reach their intended destination because ¥thelstan was on bad terms with Winchester.[54]

    Law and administration

    Almost all surviving charters from Edward's reign are later copies, and the only surviving original is not a charter of Edward himself, but a grant by ¥thelred and ¥thelflµd in 901.[55] In the same year a meeting at Southampton was attended by his brother and sons, his household thegns and nearly all bishops, but no ealdormen. It was on this occasion that the king acquired land from the Bishop of Winchester for the foundation of the New Minster, Winchester. No charters survive for the period from 910 to the king's death in 924, much to the puzzlement and distress of historians. Charters were usually issued when the king made grants of land, and it is possible that Edward followed a policy of retaining property which came into his hands in order to help finance his campaigns against the Vikings.[56] Charters rarely survive unless they concerned property which passed to the church and were preserved in their archives, and another possibility is that Edward was only making grants of property on terms which ensured that they returned to male members of the royal house; such charters would not be found in church archives.[57]

    Clause 3 of the law code called I Edward provides that people convincingly charged with perjury shall not be allowed to clear themselves by oath, but only by ordeal. This is the start of the continuous history in England of trial by ordeal; it is probably mentioned in the laws of King Ine (688 to 726),[b] but not in later codes such as those of Alfred.[58] The administrative and legal system in Edward's reign may have depended extensively on written records, almost none of which survive.[59] Edward was one of the few Anglo-Saxon kings to issue laws about bookland. There was increasing confusion in the period as to what was really bookland, and Edward urged prompt settlement in bookland/folkland disputes, and laid down that jurisdiction belonged to the king and his officers.[60]

    Later life

    Silver brooch imitating a coin of Edward the Elder, c. 920, found in Rome, Italy. British Museum.
    According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, there was a general submission of rulers in Britain to Edward in 920:

    Then [Edward] went from there into the Peak District to Bakewell and ordered a borough to be built in the neighbourhood and manned. And then the king of the Scots and all the people of the Scots, and Rµgnald and the sons of Eadwulf[c] and all who live in Northumbria, both English and Danish, Norsemen and others, and also the king of the Strathclyde Welsh and all the Strathclyde Welsh, chose him as father and lord.[62]
    This passage was regarded as a straightforward report by most historians until the late twentieth century,[63] and Frank Stenton observed that "each of the rulers named in this list had something definite to gain from an acknowledgement of Edward's overlordship".[64] Since the 1980s the 'submission' has been viewed with increasing scepticism, particularly as the passage in the Chronicle is the only evidence for it, unlike other submissions such as that one in 927 to ¥thelstan, for which there is independent support from literary sources and coins.[65] Alfred Smyth points out that Edward was not in a position to impose the same conditions on the Scots and the Northumbrians as he could on conquered Vikings, and argues that the Chronicle presented a treaty between kings as a submission to Wessex.[66] Stafford observes that the rulers had met at Bakewell on the border between Mercia and Northumbria, and that meetings on borders were generally considered to avoid any implication of submission by either side.[67] Davidson points out that the wording "chosen as father and lord" applied to conquered army groups and burhs, not relations with other kings. In his view:

    The idea that this meeting represented a 'submission', while it must remain a possibility, does however seem unlikely. The textual context of the chronicler's passage makes his interpretation of the meeting suspect, and ultimately, Edward was in no position to force the subordination of, or dictate terms to, his fellow kings in Britain.[68]
    Edward continued ¥thelflµd's policy of founding burhs in the north-west, with ones at Thelwall and Manchester in 919, and Cledematha (Rhuddlan) at the mouth of the River Clwyd in North Wales in 921.[69]

    Nothing is known of his relations with the Mercians between 919 and the last year of his life, when he put down a Mercian and Welsh revolt at Chester. Mercia and the eastern Danelaw were organised into shires at an unknown date in the tenth century, ignoring traditional boundaries, and historians such as Sean Miller and David Griffiths suggest that Edward's imposition of direct control from 919 is a likely context for a change which ignored Mercian sensibilities. Resentment at the changes, at the imposition of rule by distant Wessex, and at fiscal demands by Edward's reeves, may have provoked the revolt at Chester. He died at the royal estate of Farndon, twelve miles south of Chester, on 24 July 924, shortly after putting down the revolt, and was buried in the New Minster, Winchester.[70] In 1109, the New Minster was moved outside the city walls to become Hyde Abbey, and the following year Edward and his parents were translated to the new church.[71]


    According to William of Malmesbury, Edward was "much inferior to his father in the cultivation of letters" but "incomparably more glorious in the power of his rule". Other medieval chroniclers expressed similar views, and he was generally seen as inferior in book learning, but superior in military success. John of Worcester described him as "the most invincible King Edward the Elder". However, even as war leader he was only one of a succession of successful kings; his achievements were overshadowed because he did not have a famous victory like Alfred's at Edington and ¥thelstan's at Brunanburh, and William qualified his praise by saying that "the chief prize of victory, in my judgment, is due to his father". Edward has also been overshadowed by chroniclers' admiration for his highly regarded sister, ¥thelflµd.[72]

    A principal reason for the neglect of Edward is that very few primary sources for his reign survive, whereas there are many for Alfred. He was largely ignored by historians until the late twentieth century, but he is now highly regarded. He is described by Keynes as "far more than the bellicose bit between Alfred and ¥thelstan",[73] and according to Nick Higham: "Edward the Elder is perhaps the most neglected of English kings. He ruled an expanding realm for twenty-five years and arguably did as much as any other individual to construct a single, south-centred, Anglo-Saxon kingdom, yet posthumously his achievements have been all but forgotten." In 1999 a conference on his reign was held at the University of Manchester, and the papers given on this occasion were published as a book in 2001. Prior to this conference, no monographs had been published on Edward's reign, whereas his father has been the subject of numerous biographies and other studies.[74]

    In the view of F. T. Wainwright: "Without detracting from the achievements of Alfred, it is well to remember that it was Edward who reconquered the Danish Midlands and gave England nearly a century of respite from serious Danish attacks."[75] Higham summarises Edward's legacy as follows:

    Under Edward's leadership, the scale of alternative centres of power diminished markedly: the separate court of Mercia was dissolved; the Danish leaders were in large part brought to heel or expelled; the Welsh princes were constrained from aggression of the borders and even the West Saxon bishoprics divided. Late Anglo-Saxon England is often described as the most centralised polity in western Europe at the time, with its shires, its shire-reeves and its systems of regional courts and royal taxation. If so — and the matter remains debatable — much of that centrality derives from Edward's activities, and he has as good a claim as any other to be considered the architect of medieval England.[76]
    Edward's cognomen 'the Elder' was first used in Wulfstan's Life of St ¥thelwold at the end of the tenth century, to distinguish him from King Edward the Martyr.[19]

    Marriages and children[edit]
    Edward had about fourteen children from three marriages.[d]

    He first married Ecgwynn around 893.[82] Their children were:

    ¥thelstan, King of England 924–939[19]
    A daughter, perhaps called Edith, married Sihtric Câaech, Viking King of York in 926, who died in 927. Possibly Saint Edith of Polesworth[83]
    In c. 900, Edward married ¥lfflµd, daughter of Ealdorman ¥thelhelm, probably of Wiltshire.[17] Their children were:

    ¥lfweard, died August 924, a month after his father; possibly King of Wessex for that month[84]
    Edwin, drowned at sea 933[85]
    ¥thelhild, lay sister at Wilton Abbey[86]
    Eadgifu (died in or after 951), married Charles the Simple, King of the West Franks, c. 918[87]
    Eadflµd, nun at Wilton Abbey[86]
    Eadhild, married Hugh the Great, Duke of the Franks in 926[88]
    Eadgyth (died 946), in 929/30 married Otto I, future King of the East Franks, and (after Eadgyth's death) Holy Roman Emperor[89]
    ¥lfgifu, married "a prince near the Alps", perhaps Louis, brother of King Rudolph II of Burgundy[90]
    Edward married for a third time, about 919, Eadgifu, the daughter of Sigehelm, Ealdorman of Kent.[91] Their children were

    Edmund, King of England 939–946[77]
    Eadred, King of England 946–955[77]
    Eadburh (died c. 952), Benedictine nun at Nunnaminster, Winchester, and saint[92]
    Eadgifu, existence uncertain, possibly the same person as ¥lfgifu[93]

    New Minster, Winchester, later translated to Hyde Abbey

    Edward married Eadgifu of Kent ~ 919. Eadgifu was born C. 903, England; died C. 966. [Group Sheet]

  2. 193.  Eadgifu of Kent was born C. 903, England; died C. 966.


    Eadgifu of Kent (also Edgiva or Ediva) (in or before 903 – in or after 966) was the third wife of Edward the Elder, King of the Anglo-Saxons.


    Eadgifu was the daughter of Sigehelm, Ealdorman of Kent, who died at the Battle of the Holme in 902.[1] She married Edward in about 919 and became the mother of two sons, Edmund I of England, later King Edmund I, and Eadred of England, later King Eadred, and two daughters, Saint Eadburh of Winchester and Eadgifu.[2] She survived Edward by many years, dying in the reign of her grandson Edgar.

    According to a narrative written in the early 960s, her father had given Cooling in Kent to a man called Goda as security for a loan. She claimed that her father had repaid the loan and left the land to her, but Goda denied receiving payment and refused to surrender the land. She got possession of Cooling six years after her father's death, when her friends persuaded King Edward to threaten to dispossess Goda of his property unless he gave up the estate. Edward later declared Goda's lands forfeit and gave the charters to Eadgifu, but she returned most of the estates to Goda, although retained the charters. Some time after this her marriage to Edward took place. After his death King ¥thelstan required Eadgifu to return the charters to Goda, perhaps because the king was on bad terms with his stepmother.[3]

    She disappeared from court during the reign of her step-son, King ¥thelstan, but she was prominent and influential during the reign of her two sons.[2] As queen dowager, her position seem to have been higher than that of her daughter-in-law; In a Kentish charter datable between 942 and 944, her daughter-in-law ¥lfgifu of Shaftesbury subscribes herself as the king's concubine (concubina regis), with a place assigned to her between the bishops and ealdormen. By comparison, Eadgifu subscribes higher up in the witness list as mater regis, after her sons Edmund and Eadred but before the archbishops and bishops.[4]

    Following the death of her younger son Eadred in 955, she was deprived of her lands by her eldest grandson, King Eadwig, perhaps because she took the side of his younger brother, Edgar, in the struggle between them. When Edgar succeeded on Eadwig's death in 959 she recovered some lands and received generous gifts from her grandson, but she never returned to her prominent position at court. She is last recorded as a witness to a charter in 966.[2]

    She was known as a supporter of saintly churchmen and a benefactor of churches.[2]

    See also

    House of Wessex family tree;

    1. 96. Edmund I, King of the English was born 921, Wessex, England; died 26 May 0946, Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, England; was buried Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, England.