Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Edward the Elder

Edward the Elder, king of England (899-925), died on this day in 925 at Farndon-on-Dee, Mercia at the age of about 53.

The second and eldest surviving son of Alfred the Great, Edward grew up watching his father fight the Danes, and had developed a strong sense of mission as guardian of England's future by the time succeeded his father in October 899. Although the Witan (the Anglo-Saxon council of elders) moved quickly to proclaim him king, his cousin Athelwold (son of the late King Ethelred I, Alfred's brother and predecessor), upset about Alfred's last will and testament, had himself proclaimed king by the Danes and Angles in York and began to lead a revolt in East Anglia. Two years later, Athelwold died in battle, and Edward was able to broker an uneasy peace with the Danes in the East, but he would spend the next eight years shooing the pesky Danes out of the North. By 915, Edward had completed a chain of fortified towns from Chester to Witham, after which he pursued the equivocating Eastern Danes, finally getting them to submit to his rule in 920.

His success against the Danes attracted the attention of the kings of Scotland and Strathclyde, who declared their submission to Edward in exchange for his help with the Norse who were attacking them -- ultimately resulting in Edward having achieved overlord status over all of Britain (except for the Norse settlements in York, Orkney and the Western Isles) by 922. His sons Athelstan, Edmund and Edred would all succeed him.

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