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Son of English King, Edward the Elder (c870-924), he succeeded his half-brother. Athelstan (895-939), on the latter's death. As a young warrior he had participated in Atherlstan's victory at Brunanburh (937), but soon after his accession he had to face renewed military threats.
House of Wessex
He was of the royal English dynasty called House of Wessex, a family originating in the southwest corner of England and gradually increased in power and prestiege. The House became rulers of all the country with the reign of Alfred the Great in 871 and lasting until Edmund Ironside in 1016. This period of the English monarchy is known as the Saxon period.
Threat from Northumbria
In 940, Olaf Guthfrithsson, King of Dublin, who was defeated in the battle at Brunanburh, came down from Northumbria to reclaim his lost lands in York. Arbitration with the archbishops award Northumbria back to Olaf. When Olaf died, Edmund marched forth (942) and reconquered the area of the Five Boroughs (Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, and Stamford) in the Midlands. It appears that the Christianized Anglo-Danish population here has more than happy to be free from their Irish-Norse rulers. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle celebrated this victory in poem:
Long had the Danes under the Norsemen
Been subjected by force to heathen bondage,
Until finally liberated by the valour of Edward's son,
King Edmund, protector of warriors."
- 944 Reconquers Yorkshire and Northumbria.
- 945 Reconquers Strathclyde, and independent kingdom covering the whole of south-west Scotland. But in treaty he cedes the territory to Malcolm I of Scotland (bef900-954).
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 of Wessex (902-aft955), 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. 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.
After he had narrowly escaped death while hunting near the Cheddar Gorge, Edmund installed St Dunstan as Abbot of Glastonbury, and supported Dunstan's revival of monasticism in England.
Edmund might have gone on to greater achievements had he not been murdered. by an outlaw called Leofa. On 26 May 946, Edmund was murdered by Leofa, an exiled thief, while attending St Augustine's Day mass in Pucklechurch (South Gloucestershire).
He was succeeded by his younger brother, Eadred of Wessex (c924-955).
Marriage and Family
Edmund's sons later ruled England as:
- Eadwig of Wessex (c941-959), King of England from 955 until 957, king of only Wessex and Kent from 957 until his death on 1 October 959.
- Edgar I the Peaceful (943-975), king of Mercia and Northumbria from 957 until his brother's death in 959, then king of England from 959 until 975.
|Offspring of Edmund of Wessex and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury (-944)|
|Eadwig of Wessex (c941-959)|| |
|Edgar I the Peaceful (943-975)||<year not a number>||<year not a number> Winchester|| Æthelflæd|
|Offspring of Edward of Wessex and Ecgwynn (c875-)|
|Edith of Polesworth (c896-)||<year not a number> England||Ireland|| Sitric Cáech (c890-927)|
|Athelstan (895-939)||<year not a number> Wessex||<year not a number> Gloucestershire, England|
|Offspring of Edward of Wessex and Ælfflæd (c880-)|
|Eadgifu of Wessex (902-aft955)||<year not a number>||<year not a number>|| Charles the Simple (879-929)|
Herbert III de Vermandois (c913-c982)
|Eadgyth of Wessex (910-946)||<year not a number>||<year not a number>|| Otto I von Sachsen (912-973)|
|Eadhilda of Wessex (-937)||<year not a number>|| Hugh the Great (898-956)|
|Ælfgifu of Wessex (-)|| |
|Eadflæd of Wessex (-)|| |
|Ælfweard of Wessex (904-924)||<year not a number> Wessex, England||<year not a number> Oxford, Oxfordshire, England|| |
|Edwin Ætheling (c912-933)||<year not a number> Wessex, England||<year not a number> England|
|Offspring of Edward of Wessex and Eadgifu of Kent (c902-968)|
|Edmund of Wessex (922-946)||<year not a number> Wessex, England||<year not a number> Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, England|| Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury (-944)|
Æthelflæd of Damerham (c925-c975)
|Eadred of Wessex (c924-955)||<year not a number> Wessex, England||<year not a number> Frome, Somerset, England|| |
|Edburga of Winchester (c925-960)||<year not a number> Wessex, England||<year not a number>|