NameEdmund I (The Magnificent) King of England
Birth920, Wessex, England
Death26 May 946, Pucklechurch, Gloucester, England
BurialGlastonbury Abbey
MotherEadgifu of Kent (~896-968)
Misc. Notes
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle calls him "the deed-doer"; Florence of Worcester calls him "Edmundus magnificus"; "buried at Glastonbury, an abbey which he had entrusted in 943 to the famous Dunstan" {-Encycl.Brit., 1956 Ed., 7:962}. He reigned 940-946. He regained northern England and Strathclyde from the Vikings and gave Strathclyde to his ally Malcolm I MacDonald, King of Scots. Edmund I is known as a legal reformer, especially for his restrictions on the "blood feud."

5. Edmund I., the Magnificent. was born in 922, the twelfth of his
father's fifteen children. The first of the six Boy Kings, he reigned
from 939 to 946. He had to meet a general uprising of the Danes of
Mercia as well as those of the North. In the suppression of this he
showed himself to be a great statesman as well as a great warrior.
Little is definitely known about the policy of the Scots at this time
but it appears that they joined the English whenever they were afraid
of the Danes, and joined the Danes whenever they were afraid of the
English. Edmund made it to be the interest of the Scottish King
permanently to join the English. The southern part of the kingdom of
Strathclyde had for some time been under the English Kings. In 945
Edmund took the remainder, but gave it to Malcolm on condition that he
should be his fellow worker by sea and land. The king of the Scots
thus entered into a position of dependent alliance towards Edmund. A
great step was thus taken; the dominant powers in the island were
to be English and Scots, not English and Danes. Edmund thought it
worth while to conciliate the Scottish Celts rather than to endeavor
to conquer them. The result of Edmund's statesmanship was soon seen,
but he did not live to gather its fruits. On May 26, 946 an outlaw
named Lief, who had taken his seat at a banquet in his hall, slew him
as Edmund was attempting to drag him out by his hair. He was succeeded
by his brother Edred. He married Princess Elgiva (Aelfgifu)., known as
the "Fairies Gift,." who died in 944.

Edmund the Magnificent the Elder. The name Eadmund in Saxon meant "protector of riches" giving an indication of Edmund's presumed role as guardian of the realm.  Edmund was the half-brother of Athelstan, and the first child of Edward the Elder’s third marriage.  He had been raised in Athelstan's household and once old enough had accompanied Athelstan in several of his campaigns, fighting heroically at Brunanburh in 937.  As Athelstan had no children, Edmund succeeded him, even though he was only eighteen.  His reign began inauspiciously, as the Norse king of Dublin, Olaf Gothfrithson, regarded him as a weak successor and took the opportunity to regain his family's hold on York.  This he did in little over a month after Edmund's succession, followed by his army's march down into Mercia, devastating countryside and towns, including Tamworth, before they were confronted by Edmund at Leicester.  A rather ineffectual siege followed from which Olaf and his chief adviser, Wulfstan, archbishop of York, escaped.  Talks followed which resulted in Olaf being allowed to retain the kingship over York, as well as rule over the Danish territories in East Anglia and the Five Boroughs.  The Danes were none too pleased about this, as they were enemies of the Norse.  Nevertheless, Edmund managed to recover from this ignominy.  After only eighteen months, Olaf died.  His successor, Olaf Sitricson, was not quite his match.  Edmund undertook a lightning strike across Mercia in 942 and recovered the Danish territories.  Soon after Olaf was driven out of York, and was replaced by his cousin, Ragnall Gothfrithson, who was open to discussion with Edmund and more prepared to accept Christianity.  Olaf took refuge in the kingdom of Strathclyde where guerilla warfare now existed between the Norse factions.  Edmund took this as an opportunity to resolve the problem once and for all.  In 944 he led an army into northern Britain.  In the battle in York Ragnall was killed and York came back under Saxon control.  The following year the army marched on Strathclyde.  Olaf was driven out and back to Ireland.  The king Donald was also ejected, and Edmund conquered all of the Norse lands in Cumbria.  These he handed to the new Scots king Malcolm (1) on the basis that he would remain faithful to Edmund and not support the Norse.

From an ignominious start, Edmund's reign now looked highly successful.  He had regained the territories that he had lost and was recognized as overlord by all the native kings.  At twenty-four he should have been set for an auspicious reign, but then tragedy struck.  In May 946 Edmund was celebrating the feast of St Augustine at Pucklechurch, north of Bath.  During the feast he recognized a thief called Leofa whom Edmund had exiled six years earlier.  Edmund asked his steward to arrest the man but a fight followed in which Edmund intervened and was stabbed.  He soon died of his wounds.  Edmund had two infant sons, Edwy and Edgar, both of whom would become kings, but he was succeeded by his brother Eadred.


References: [AR7],[Weis1],[RFC]
Birthabt 922
ChildrenEdgar (The Peaceful) (943-975)
Last Modified 25 Jun 2003Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh