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Edmund I

Edmund I
Edmund I - MS Royal 14 B V.jpg
Edmund in the late thirteenth-century Genealogical Chronicle of the English Kings
King of the English
Tenure27 October 939 – 26 May 946
Coronationc. 29 November 939
probably at Kingston upon Thames[1]
PredecessorÆthelstan
SuccessorEadred
Born921
Wessex, England
Died26 May 946 (aged 24–25)
Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, England
Burial
SpouseÆlfgifu of Shaftesbury
Æthelflæd of Damerham
IssueEadwig
Edgar the Peaceful
HouseWessex
FatherEdward the Elder

Edmund I (Old English: Ēadmund, pronounced [æːɑdmund]; 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.[2]

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 Æthelstan. 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.

Early life and military threats

Edmund lost his father whilst a toddler, in 924 and his 30-year-old half-brother Athelstan came to the throne. Edmund grew up during the reign of Athelstan, participating in the Battle of Brunanburh in 937.[3]

Athelstan died in 939, and Edmund became king. Shortly after his proclamation, he had to face several military threats. King Olaf III Guthfrithson conquered Northumbria and invaded the Midlands. Edmund encountered him at Leicester, but Olaf escaped and a peace was brokered by Oda of Canterbury and Wulfstan I of York.[3] When Olaf died in 942, Edmund reconquered the Midlands.[2] In 943, Edmund became the godfather of King Olaf of York. In 944, Edmund reconquered Northumbria.[4] In the same year, his ally Olaf of York lost his throne and left for Dublin. Olaf became the king of Dublin as Amlaíb Cuarán, still allied to his godfather. In 945, Edmund conquered Strathclyde but ceded the territory to King Malcolm I of Scotland in exchange for a treaty of mutual military support.[4] 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

Silver penny of Edmund I

One of Edmund's last known political efforts was his role in the restoration of his nephew Louis IV of France. 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 Normans 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.[5] 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.[6][7]

Family, death and succession

Coin of King Edmund

Edmund's first wife was Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury. There were two sons of this marriage: Eadwig (c. 940–959), and Edgar (c. 943–975). Both became kings of England. Ælfgifu died in 944, following which Edmund married Æthelflæd of Damerham. There are no known children of this marriage.[3]

On 26 May 946, St Augustine's Day, Edmund was murdered by Leofa, a convicted outlaw, at Pucklechurch in Gloucestershire. According to the post-Conquest chronicler, John of Worcester, Leofa attacked Edmund's seneschal, and Edmund was stabbed when he intervened to protect his servant.[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 buried at Glastonbury Abbey,[3] and was succeeded as king by his brother Eadred, king from 946 until 955. Edmund's sons later ruled England as:

See also

References

  1. ^ The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England, p. 514
  2. ^ a b "Edmund I | king of England". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Mawer, Allen (1911). "Edmund I." . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 8 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 948.
  4. ^ a b David Nash Ford, Edmund the Magnificent, King of the English (AD 921-946), Early British Kingdoms Archived 10 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Richerus, Historiae, Book 2, chapters 49–50. See MGH online[permanent dead link].
  6. ^ Dorothy Whitelock (tr.), English Historical Documents c. 500–1042. 2nd ed. London, 1979. p. 345.
  7. ^ Edmundus, Anglorum rex, legatos ad Hugonem principem pro restitutione Ludowici regis dirigit: et idem princeps proinde conventus publicos eumnepotibus suis aliisque regni primatibus agit. [...] Hugo, dux Francorum, ascito secum Hugo Nneigro, filio Richardi, ceterisque regni primatibus Ludowicum regem, [...] in regnum restituit. (Flodoard, Annales 946.)
  8. ^ Williams, Ann (2004). "Edmund I (920/21–946)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8501. Retrieved 28 January 2020. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  9. ^ K. Halloran, A Murder at Pucklechurch: The Death of King Edmund, 26 May 946. Midland History, Volume 40, Issue 1 (Spring 2015), pp. 120-129.
  10. ^ Edmundus rex Transmarinus defungitur, uxor quoque regis Othonis, soror ipsius Edmundi, decessit. "Edmund, king across the sea, died, and the wife of King Otto, sister of the same Edmund, died also." (tr. Dorothy Whitelock, English Historical Documents c. 500–1042. 2nd ed. London, 1979. p. 345).

Further reading

  • Dumville, David (1985). "Learning and the Church in the England of King Edmund I, 939-946". The Historia Brittonum 3, The Vatican Recension. Cambridge, UK: Brewer.

External links

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Æthelstan
King of the English
939–946
Succeeded by
Eadred
Preceded by
Ragnall Guthfrithson
King of Northumbria
As King of the English

c. 944 to 946
Succeeded by
Eric Bloodaxe