Eadred

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Eadred
Eadred - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg
Eadred in the early fourteenth century Genealogical Roll of the Kings of England
King of the English
Reign26 May 946 23 November 955
Coronation 16 August 946
Kingston-upon-Thames
Predecessor Edmund I
Successor Eadwig
Born923
Wessex, England
Died23 November 955 (aged 3132)
Frome, Somerset
Burial
House Wessex
Father Edward the Elder

Eadred (also Edred) (923 23 November 955) was King of the English from 946 until his death. He was the son of Edward the Elder and his third wife Eadgifu of Kent, and a grandson of Alfred the Great. Eadred came to the throne following the assassination of his older brother, Edmund I. The chief achievement of his reign was to bring the Kingdom of Northumbria under total English control, which occurred with the defeat and expulsion of Eric Bloodaxe in 954. Eadred died at the age of 32 having never married, and was succeeded by his 15-year-old nephew, Eadwig.

Edward the Elder English king, son of Alfred the Great

Edward the Elder 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 to the throne, he had to defeat a challenge from his cousin Æthelwold, who had a strong claim to the throne as the son of Alfred's elder brother and predecessor, Æthelred.

Eadgifu of Kent Queen consort of England

Eadgifu of Kent was the third wife of Edward the Elder, King of the English.

Alfred the Great 9th-century King of Wessex

Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to c. 886 and King of the Anglo-Saxons from c. 886 to 899. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex. His father died when he was young and three of Alfred's brothers reigned in turn. Alfred took the throne after the death of his brother Æthelred and spent several years dealing with Viking invasions. He won a decisive victory in the Battle of Edington in 878 and made an agreement with the Vikings, creating what was known as Danelaw in the North of England. Alfred also oversaw the conversion of Viking leader Guthrum to Christianity. He successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and he became the dominant ruler in England. He was also the first King of the West Saxons to style himself King of the Anglo-Saxons. Details of his life are described in a work by 9th-century Welsh scholar and bishop Asser.

Contents

Background and succession

Eadred was a son of Edward the Elder by his third marriage, to Eadgifu, daughter of Sigehelm, ealdorman of Kent. [1] He succeeded his elder brother King Edmund I (r. 939-946), who was stabbed to death at Pucklechurch (Gloucestershire), on St Augustine's Day, 26 May 946. The same year, on 16 August, Eadred was consecrated by Archbishop Oda of Canterbury at Kingston upon Thames (Surrey, now Greater London), where he appears to have received the submission of Welsh rulers and northern earls. [2]

Ealdorman

Ealdorman was a term in Anglo-Saxon England which originally applied to a man of high status, including some of royal birth, whose authority was independent of the king. It evolved in meaning and in the eighth century was sometimes applied to the former kings of territories which had submitted to great powers such as Mercia. In Wessex in the second half of the ninth century it meant the leaders of individual shires appointed by the king. By the tenth century ealdormen had become the local representatives of the West Saxon king of England. Ealdormen would lead in battle, preside over courts and levy taxation. Ealdormanries were the most prestigious royal appointments, the possession of noble families and semi-independent rulers. The territories became large, often covering former kingdoms such as Mercia or East Anglia. Southern ealdormen often attended court, reflecting increasing centralisation of the kingdom, but the loyalty of northern ealdormen was more uncertain. In the eleventh century the term eorl replaced that of ealdorman, but this reflected a change in terminology under Danish influence rather than a change in function.

Edmund I Anglo Saxon monarch

Edmund I was King of the English from 939 until his death. His epithets include the Elder, the Deed-doer, the Just, and the Magnificent.

Pucklechurch human settlement in United Kingdom

Pucklechurch is a large village and civil parish in South Gloucestershire, England, 7.4 miles (11.9 km) ENE of the city of Bristol and 8.9 miles (14.3 km) NW of the city of Bath.

Trouble in Northumbria

Charter S 512 of Eadred dated 948 S 512 Diploma of King Eadred for AElfwyn AD 948, written by Edmund C.tif
Charter S 512 of Eadred dated 948

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 946 records that Eadred "reduced all the land of Northumbria to his control; and the Scots granted him oaths that they would do all that he wanted." [3] Nevertheless, Eadred soon faced a number of political challenges to the West-Saxon hegemony in the north. Unfortunately, there are some notorious difficulties with the chronology of the events described in the historical sources, but it is clear that there were two Scandinavian princes who set themselves up as kings of Northumbria.

<i>Anglo-Saxon Chronicle</i> Set of related medieval English chronicles

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple copies were made of that one original and then distributed to monasteries across England, where they were independently updated. In one case, the Chronicle was still being actively updated in 1154.

Opening page of Eadred's will, AD 951-955 (15th-century copy, British Library Add MS 82931, ff. 22r-23r) Will of King Eadred - BL Add MS 82931, f. 22r.jpg
Opening page of Eadred's will, AD 951–955 (15th-century copy, British Library Add MS 82931, ff. 22r–23r)

Óláf Sihtricson, otherwise known as Amlaíb Cuarán ('Sandal'), had been king of Northumbria in the early 940s when he became Edmund's godson and client king, but he was later driven out. He then succeeded his cousin as King of Dublin, but after a heavy defeat in battle in 947, he was once again forced to try his luck elsewhere. [4] Shortly thereafter, Olaf was back in business, having regained the kingdom of York. [5] What Eadred thought of the matter or how much sympathy he bore for his brother's godson can only be guessed at, but it seems that he at least tolerated Olaf's presence. In any event, Olaf was ousted from the kingship a second time by the Northumbrians, this time in favour of Eric son of Harald, according to MS E of the Chronicle. [6]

Amlaíb Cuarán 10th century Norse king of Northumbria and Dublin

Amlaíb mac Sitric, commonly called Amlaíb Cuarán, in Old Norse: Óláfr kváran, was a 10th-century Norse-Gael who was King of Northumbria and Dublin. His byname, cuarán, is usually translated as "sandal". His name appears in a variety of anglicized forms, including Olaf Cuaran and Olaf Sihtricson, particularly in relation to his short-lived rule in York. He was the last of the Uí Ímair to play a major part in the politics of the British Isles.

The other player in the game was Eric Bloodaxe, previously King of Norway from 930 to 934. After a number of successful operations elsewhere, he came to Northumbria and appears at some point to have set himself up as king. King Eadred responded harshly to the northern defectors by launching a destructive raid on Northumbria, which notably included burning the Ripon monastery founded by St. Wilfrid. Although his forces sustained heavy losses in the Battle of Castleford (as he returned home), Eadred managed to check his rival by promising the latter's supporters even greater havoc if they did not desert the foreign prince. The Northumbrians appeased the English king and paid compensation. [7]

Eric Bloodaxe 10th-century Norwegian ruler

Eric Haraldsson, nicknamed Eric Bloodaxe, was a 10th-century Norwegian ruler. It is widely speculated that he had short-lived terms as King of Norway and twice as King of Northumbria.

Ripon cathedral city in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England

Ripon is a cathedral city in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is located at the confluence of two tributaries of the River Ure, the Laver and Skell. The city is noted for its main feature, Ripon Cathedral which is architecturally significant, as well as the Ripon Racecourse and other features such as its market. The city itself is just over 1,300 years old.

Wilfrid 7th-century Anglo-Saxon bishop and saint

Wilfrid was an English bishop and saint. Born a Northumbrian noble, he entered religious life as a teenager and studied at Lindisfarne, at Canterbury, in Gaul, and at Rome; he returned to Northumbria in about 660, and became the abbot of a newly founded monastery at Ripon. In 664 Wilfrid acted as spokesman for the Roman position at the Synod of Whitby, and became famous for his speech advocating that the Roman method for calculating the date of Easter should be adopted. His success prompted the king's son, Alhfrith, to appoint him Bishop of Northumbria. Wilfrid chose to be consecrated in Gaul because of the lack of what he considered to be validly consecrated bishops in England at that time. During Wilfrid's absence Alhfrith seems to have led an unsuccessful revolt against his father, Oswiu, leaving a question mark over Wilfrid's appointment as bishop. Before Wilfrid's return Oswiu had appointed Ceadda in his place, resulting in Wilfrid's retirement to Ripon for a few years following his arrival back in Northumbria.

The Historia Regum suggests that the threat of an independent Northumbrian king had come to an end in 952, when earls finally took over the helm. [8]

Health conditions and death

Towards the end of his life, Eadred suffered from a digestive malady which would prove fatal. 'Author B', the biographer and former apprentice of St Dunstan, described with vivid memory how the king sucked out the juices of his food, chewed on what was left and spat it out. [9] Eadred died at the age of 32 on 23 November (St. Clement's Day), 955, at Frome (Somerset), and was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester. [10] He died a bachelor, and was succeeded by Edmund's son Eadwig.

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Kingdom of Northumbria Medieval kingdom of the Angles

The Kingdom of Northumbria was a medieval Anglian kingdom in what is now Northern England and south-east Scotland. The name derives from the Old English Norþan-hymbre meaning "the people or province north of the Humber", which reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary. Northumbria started to consolidate into one kingdom in the early seventh century, when the two earlier core territories of Deira and Bernicia entered into a dynastic union. At its height, the kingdom extended from the Humber, Peak District and the River Mersey on the south to the Firth of Forth on the north. Northumbria ceased to be an independent kingdom in the mid-tenth century, though a rump Earldom of Bamburgh survived around Bernicia in the north, later to be absorbed into the mediaeval kingdoms of Scotland and England.

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Eadwig, also spelled Edwy, sometimes called the All-Fair, was King of England from 955 until his premature death.

Edgar the Peaceful Anglo-Saxon king of England

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Olaf Guthfrithson was a Viking leader who ruled Dublin and Viking Northumbria in the 10th century. He was the son of Gofraid ua Ímair and great-grandson of Ímar, making him one of the Uí Ímair. Olaf succeeded his father as King of Dublin in 934 and succeeded in establishing dominance over the Vikings of Limerick when he captured their king, Amlaíb Cenncairech, in 937. That same year he allied with Constantine II of Scotland in an attempt to reclaim the Kingdom of Northumbria which his father had ruled briefly in 927. The forces of Olaf and Constantine were defeated by the English led by Æthelstan at the Battle of Brunanburh.

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Wulfstan was Archbishop of York between 931 and 952. He is often known as Wulfstan I, to separate him from Wulfstan II, Archbishop of York.

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John of Worcester English monk and chronicler

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Ragnall Guthfrithson

Ragnall Guthfrithson was a Viking leader who ruled Viking Northumbria in the 10th century. He was the son of Gofraid ua Ímair and great-grandson of Ímar, making him one of the Uí Ímair. He ruled Northumbria in 943 and 944, either with, or in opposition to, Olaf Cuaran. Ragnall and Olaf were driven out of Northumbria by the English in 944. His later life is unknown but it is possible he was the "king of the Danes" who is reported as being killed by the Saxons at York in 944 or 945.

References

  1. Eadred (d. 955)
  2. Sawyer no. 520; John of Worcester, Chronicon ex Chronicis, 946
  3. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle MSS D and E, translated by Michael J. Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. 2nd ed. London, 2000.
  4. Annals of Ulster 945 and 947: CELT
  5. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle MS E, 949
  6. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle MS E, 952
  7. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle MS D, 948, but the Historia Regum gives 950
  8. Historia Regum 952
  9. "Eratque, proh dolor, rex Eadraedus dilectus Dunstani per omne tempus imperii sui nimium languens, ita ut refectionis tempore sorpto succo ciborum reliquam partem parumper dentibus obtritam ab ore rejecisse, et sic saepe convivantibus secum militibus foetentem nausiam exspuendo fecisset." Vita S. Dunstani § 20: p. 31
  10. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle MSS A, D and E, 955, MSS B and C, 956.

Bibliography

Primary sources

Secondary sourcesWilliams, Ann (2004). "Eadred (d. 955)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Further reading

Primary sources

Secondary sources

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Edmund
King of the English
946955
Succeeded by
Eadwig
Preceded by
Eric Bloodaxe
King of Northumbria
As King of the English

954–955
Title merged in English crown