Edward the Elder
King of England
File:Ed Elder.jpg
Reign 26 October 899 - 17 July 924
Coronation 8 June 900, Kingston upon Thames
Born c.869-877
Wessex, England
Died 17 July 924
Farndon-on-Dee, Cheshire
Buried New Minster, Winchester, later translated to Hyde Abbey
Predecessor Alfred the Great
Successor Ælfweard and
Consort Ecgwynn, Aelffaed, and Edgiva
Father Alfred the Great
Mother Ealhswith

Edward the Elder (Old English: Ēadweard se Ieldra) (c.874-87717 July 924) was King of England (899924). He was the son of Alfred the Great (Ælfrēd se Grēata) and Alfred's wife, Ealhswith, and became King of Wessex upon his father's death in 899.

Succession and Early ReignEdit

Edward's succession to his father was not assured. When Alfred died, Edward's cousin Aethelwold, the son of King Aethelred I, rose up to claim the throne. He seized Wimborne, in Dorset, where his father was buried, and Christchurch (then in Hampshire, now in Dorset). Edward marched to Badbury and offered battle, but Aethelwold refused to leave Wimborne. Just when it looked as if Edward was going to attack Wimborne, Aethelwold left in the night, and joined the Danes in Northumbria, where he was announced as King. In the meantime, Edward is alleged to have been crowned at Kingston upon Thames on 8 June 900 (see [1]). The following year, he took the title of "King of the Angles and Saxons", distinguishing himself from his predecessors, who had been Kings of Wessex.

In 901, Aethelwold came with a fleet to Essex, and encouraged the Danes in East Anglia to rise up. In the following year, he attacked Cricklade and Braydon. Edward arrived with an army, and after several marches, the two sides met at the Battle of Holme. Aethelwold and King Eohric of the East Anglian Danes were killed in the battle.

Relations with the North proved problematic for Edward for several more years. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions that he made peace with the East Anglian and Northumbrian Danes "of necessity". There is also a mention of the regaining of Chester in 907, which may be an indication that the city was taken in battle. [2]

In 909, Edward sent an army to harass Northumbria. In the following year, the Northumbrians returned the favour by attacking Mercia, but they were met by the combined Mercian and West Saxon army at the Battle of Tettenhall, where the Northumbrian Danes were destroyed. From that point, they never raided south of the Humber River.

Edward then began the construction of a number of fortresses (burhs), at Hertford, Witham and Bridgnorth. He is also said to have built a fortress at Scergeat, but that location has not been identified. This series of fortresses kept the Danes at bay. Other forts were built at Tamworth, Stafford, Eddisbury and Warwick.


File:Edward elder.jpg

Edward arguably exceeded Alfred's military achievements, restoring the Danelaw to Saxon rule and reigning in Mercia from 918, after the death of his sister, Ethelfleda (Æðelflǣd). By 918, all of the Danes south of the Humber had submitted to him. Ethelfleda's daughter, Aelfwinn, was named as her successor, but Edward deposed her, and ruled by himself from Mercia, ending Mercian independence. He had already annexed the cities of London and Oxford and the surrounding lands of Oxfordshire and Middlesex.

A series of Norse invasions of the North forced Edward into several battles between the end of 918 and late 920. At that time, the Norse, the Scots and the Welsh were calling him "father and lord". [3] This recognition of Edward's overlordship in Scotland led to his successors' claims of suzerainty over that Kingdom.

Edward reorganized the Church in Wessex, creating new bishoprics at Ramsbury & Sonning, Wells and Crediton. Despite this, there is little indication that Edward was particularly religious. In fact, the Pope delivered a reprimand to him to pay more attention to his religious responsibilities. [4]

He died leading an army against a Cambro-Mercian rebellion, on 17 July 924 at Farndon-Upon-Dee and was buried in the New Minster in Winchester, Hampshire, which he himself had established in 901. After the Conquest, the minster was replaced by Hyde Abbey to the north of the city and King Edward's body was transferred there. His last resting place is currently marked by a cross-inscribed stone slab within the outline of the old abbey marked out in a public park.

The portrait included here is imaginary and was drawn together with portraits of other Anglo-Saxon monarchs by an unknown artist in the 18th century. Edward's eponym the Elder was first used in the 10th century, in Wulfstan's Life of St Æthelwold, to distinguish him from the later King Edward the Martyr.


King Edward had about fourteen children from three marriages, and may have had illegitimate children too.

Edward married (although the exact status of the union is uncertain) Ecgwynn around 893, and they became the parents of Athelstan and a daughter who married Sihtric, King of Dublin and York, but Ecgwynn was considered too lowly. Nothing is known about Ecgwynn other than her name, which was not even recorded until after the Conquest [5]. Later historians have claimed that she was a noblewoman and that she was a shepherd's daughter.

When he became king in 899, Edward set Ecgwynn aside and married Aelffaed, a daughter of Æthelhelm, the ealdorman of Wiltshire. Their son was the future king, Ælfweard, and their daughter Eadgyth married Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. The couple had one other son and five more daughters, including Edgiva, alias Edgifu, who married Charles the Simple, and Eadhild, who married Hugh the Great, duke of the Franks.

Edward married for a third time, about 919, to Edgiva, alias Eadgifu, the daughter of Sigehelm, the ealdorman of Kent. They had two sons, Edmund and Edred, and two daughters, one of whom was Saint Edburga of Winchester. Eadgifu outlived her husband and her sons, and was alive during the reign of her grandson, King Edgar. William of Malmsbury's history De antiquitate Glastonie ecclesiae claims that Edward's second wife, Aelffaed, was also alive after Edward's death, but this is the only known source for that claim.


Genealogy england bis 1000

Diagram based on the information found on Wikipedia


External linksEdit

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