Edmund Ironside

Last updated
Edmund Ironside
Edmund Ironside - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg
Edmund in the early 14th-century Genealogical Roll of the Kings of England
King of the English
Reign23 April – 30 November 1016
Predecessor Æthelred the Unready
Successor Cnut the Great
Born990
Died30 November 1016 (aged 26)
Oxford or London, England
Burial
Spouse Ealdgyth
Issue Edward the Exile
Edmund Ætheling
House Wessex
Father Æthelred the Unready
Mother Ælfgifu of York

Edmund Ironside (c. 990 – 30 November 1016; Old English :Ēadmund Isernside, Latin : Edmundus; sometimes also known as Edmund II [lower-alpha 1] ) was King of England from 23 April to 30 November 1016. He was the son of King Æthelred the Unready and his first wife, Ælfgifu 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]

Æthelred the Unready 10th and 11th-century King of England

Æthelred II, 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 unræd meaning "poorly advised"; it is a pun on his name, which means "well advised".

Ælfgifu of York was the first wife of Æthelred the Unready, by whom she bore many offspring, including Edmund Ironside. It is most probable that she was a daughter of Thored, Earl of southern Northumbria.

A cognomen was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. Initially, it was a nickname, but lost that purpose when it became hereditary. Hereditary cognomina were used to augment the second name, the gens, in order to identify a particular branch within a family or family within a clan. The term has also taken on other contemporary meanings.

Contents

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, Æthelred, was deposed by Sweyn Forkbeard in that same year, but Sweyn died shortly thereafter, paving the way for Æthelred 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.

Sweyn Forkbeard 11th-century King of Denmark, England, and Norway

Sweyn Forkbeard was king of Denmark from 986 to 1014. He was the father of King Harald II of Denmark, King Cnut the Great and Queen Estrid Svendsdatter.

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

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.

Eadric Streona Anglo-Saxon noble

Eadric Streona was Ealdorman of Mercia from 1007 to 1017. Eadric was given the epithet "Streona" in Hemming's Cartulary because he appropriated church land and funds for himself. Eadric became infamous in the medieval age because of his traitorous actions during the Danish re-conquest of England.

Morcar (thegn) Anglo-saxon noble

Morcar was a thane (minister) of King Æthelred the Unready. He was given lands in Derbyshire in 1009, including Weston-on-Trent, Crich, and Smalley by King Æthelred in 1011 and 1012. He was also given the freedom from the three common burdens. He and his brother were executed in 1015. Morcar's brother's wife was later married to King Edmund Ironside.

Sigeferth was, along with his brother Morcar, described by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as "chief thegn of the Seven Burghs".

Cnut returned to England in August 1015. Over the next few months, Cnut pillaged most of England. Edmund joined Æthelred to defend London, but Æthelred 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.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Battle of Assandun

The Battle of Assandun was fought between Danish and English armies on 18 October 1016. There is disagreement whether Assandun may be Ashdon near Saffron Walden in north Essex or, as long supposed, Ashingdon near Rochford in southeast Essex, England. It ended in victory for the Danes, led by Canute the Great, who triumphed over the English army led by King Edmund Ironside. The battle was the conclusion to the Danish reconquest of England.

Wessex Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Great Britain

Wessex was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Great Britain, from 519 until England was unified by Æthelstan in the early 10th century.

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 Æthelred the Unready and his first wife, Ælfgifu, who was probably the daughter of Earl Thored of Northumbria. His elder brothers were Æthelstan (died 1014) and Egbert (died c. 1005), and younger ones, Eadred, Eadwig and Edgar. [1] He had four sisters, Eadgyth (or Edith), Ælfgifu, 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.

Thored 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.

Æthelstan Ætheling, early or mid 980s to 25 June 1014, was the eldest son of King Æthelred the Unready by his first wife Ælfgifu and the heir apparent to the kingdom until his death. He made his first appearance as a witness to a charter of his father in 993. He probably spent part of his childhood at Æthelingadene, Dean in west Sussex, and his paternal grandmother Ælfthryth may have played an important part in his upbringing. Almost nothing is known of his life, although he seems to have formed a friendship with Sigeforth and Morcar, two of the leading thegns of the Five Boroughs of the East Midlands.

Eadred Ætheling was the fourth of the six sons of King Æthelred the Unready by his first wife Ælfgifu. He witnessed charters between 993 and 1012 or 1013, but died before his father was forced to flee to Normandy in late 1013

Æthelstan 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.

Propaganda Form of communication intended to sway the audience through presenting only one side of the argument

Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Propaganda is often associated with material prepared by governments, but activist groups, companies, religious organizations and the media can also produce propaganda.

Warrior prince

When Sweyn Forkbeard seized the throne at the end of 1013 and Æthelred fled to Normandy, the brothers do not appear to have followed him, but stayed in England. Æthelstan 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 as king. However, Æthelred returned to England and launched a surprise attack which defeated the Vikings and forced Cnut to flee England. In 1015 Sigeferth (died 1015) and Morcar came to an assembly in Oxford, probably hoping for a royal pardon, but they were murdered by Eadric Streona. King Æthelred 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 Æthelred 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

Æthelred 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]

Death

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.

Reputation

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 Æthelred'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]

Descendants

Edmund had two children by Ealdgyth, Edward the Exile and Edmund Ætheling. According to John of Worcester, Cnut sent them to Sweden where he probably hoped they would be murdered and forgotten, but Olof, King of Sweden instead forwarded them on to Kiev, where his daughter Ingegerd was the grand princess consort of the Kievan Rus'. 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. [1] His son Edgar the Ætheling 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 still alive in 1125.

In 1070 Edward the Exile's daughter, Margaret, became Queen consort to Malcolm III of Scotland. Through her and her descendants, Edmund is the direct ancestor of almost 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 day. [7]

In culture

Fictional depiction from the 18th century Edmond II d'Angleterre.jpg
Fictional depiction from the 18th century

See also

Citations

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Lawson, M. K. "Edmund II". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8502.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Keynes, Simon. "Æthelred II". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8915.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. Lavelle 2008, pp. 172-173.
  4. Lavelle 2008, p. 172.
  5. Lavelle 2008, pp. 169-172.
  6. Henry of Huntingdon 2002, p. 15.
  7. William Blackstone (1765) Commentaries on the Laws of England Book 1, Chapter 3: "Of the King, and His Title"

Notes

  1. Numbers were not used to identify kings until well after the Norman Conquest of 1066, so their use to identify Anglo-Saxon kings is anachronistic. However, since Edmund I is usually identified as such, Edmund Ironside is sometimes referred to in the same manner.

Sources

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Æthelred the Unready
King of the English
1016
Succeeded by
Cnut the Great

Related Research Articles

Cnut the Great 10th and 11th-century King of Denmark, Norway, and England

Cnut the Great, also known as Canute, whose father was Sweyn Forkbeard, was King of Denmark, England and Norway; together often referred to as the North Sea Empire. Yet after the deaths of his heirs within a decade of his own, and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, this legacy was lost. He is popularly invoked in the context of the legend of King Canute and the tide, which usually misrepresents him as a deluded monarch believing he has supernatural powers, contrary to the original legend which portrays a wise king who rebuked his courtiers for their fawning behaviour.

Ælfgifu of Northampton regent

Ælfgifu of Northampton was the first wife of Cnut the Great, King of England and Denmark, and mother of Harold Harefoot, King of England. She was regent of Norway from 1030 to 1035.

House of Wessex family that initially ruled a kingdom in southwest England known as Wessex

The House of Wessex, also known as the House of Cerdic, refers to the family that initially ruled a kingdom in southwest England known as Wessex, from the 6th century under Cerdic of Wessex until the unification of the Kingdoms of England by Alfred the Great and his successors. Alfred and his successors would also be part of this dynasty, which would continue ruling in the main line all the way until Alfred's descendant, Ethelred the Unready, whose reign in the late 10th century and early 11th century saw a brief period of Danish occupation and following his and his son Edmund Ironside's death, kingship by the Danish Cnut the Great and his successors to 1042. The House of Wessex then briefly regained its power for 24 years, but after the deposition of its last scion, Ethelred's great-grandson Edgar Ætheling, it faded into the annals of history. Edgar himself died after a long and adventurous life sometime after 1125. All kings of England and Great Britain since Henry II have been descended from the House of Wessex through Henry I's wife Matilda of Scotland––a daughter of Edgar Ætheling's sister, Margaret of Wessex.

Uchtred or Uhtred, called the Bold, was the ealdorman of all Northumbria from 1006 to 1016, when he was assassinated. He was the son of Waltheof I, ealdorman of Bamburgh, whose ancient family had ruled from the castle of Bamburgh on the Northumbrian coast.

Eadwig Ætheling was the fifth of the six sons of King Æthelred the Unready and his first wife, Ælfgifu. Eadwig is recorded as a witness to charters from 993.

Ealdgyth, modern English Edith may have been the name of the wife of Sigeferth son of Earngrim, thegn of the Seven Burghs, and later of King Edmund Ironside. She was probably the mother of Edmund's sons Edward the Exile and Edmund Ætheling.

The name Ealdgyth (Old English: Ealdgȳð; sometimes modernized to Aldith, may refer to

Events from the 1010s in England.

Northman was a Mercian chieftain of the early 11th century. A member of a powerful Mercian kinship (clan), he is known primarily for receiving the village of Twywell in Northamptonshire from King Æthelred II in 1013, and for his death by order of King Cnut the Great in 1017. His violent end by Cnut contrasts with the successful career enjoyed by his brother Leofric, as Earl of Mercia during Cnut's reign. Northman is believed to have been an associate of the troublesome ealdorman Eadric Streona, who was killed with him.

North Sea Empire name usually given to the historical unified kingdom ruled by Cnut the Great, who was king of England, Denmark, and Norway

The North Sea Empire, also known as the Anglo-Scandinavian Empire, was the thalassocratic domain ruled by Cnut the Great as King of England, Denmark, Norway and parts of what is now Sweden between 1016 and 1035.

Ancestry of the Godwins Ancestry of a noble family

Very little is known for certain of the ancestry of the Godwins, the family of the last Anglo-Saxon King of England, Harold II. When King Edward the Confessor died in January 1066 his closest relative was his great-nephew, Edgar the Ætheling, but he was young and lacked powerful supporters. Harold was the head of the most powerful family in England and Edward's brother-in-law, and he became king. In September 1066 Harold defeated and killed King Harald Hardrada of Norway at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, and Harold was himself defeated and killed the following month by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.

House of Knýtlinga ruling royal house in Middle Age Scandinavia and England

The Danish House of Knýtlinga was a ruling royal house in Middle Age Scandinavia and England. Its most famous king was Cnut the Great, who gave his name to this dynasty. Other notable members were Cnut's father Sweyn Forkbeard, grandfather Harald Bluetooth, and sons Harthacnut, Harold Harefoot, and Svein Knutsson. It has also been called the House of Canute, the House of Denmark, the House of Gorm, or the Jelling dynasty.