Edward (d.924) (DNB00)

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EDWARD, EADWARD, or EADWEARD, called the Elder (d. 924), king of the Angles and Saxons, the elder son of King Ælfred and Ealhswyth, was brought up most carefully at his father's court with Ælfthryth, his sister, who was next above him in age; they were both beloved by all, and were educated as became their rank, learning psalms and English poetry and reading English books (Asser, p. 485). Eadward distinguished himself in his father's later wars with the Danes, and the taking of the Danish camp on the Colne and the victory at Buttington in 894 are attributed to him (Æthelweard, p.518). Although he had no special part of the kingdom assigned to him, he bore the title of king in 898, probably as his father's assistant (Kemble, Codex Dipl. 324). He was, we are told, as good a soldier as his father, but not so good a scholar (Flor. Wig.) On Ælfred's death, which took place on 28 Oct. 901, he was chosen by the 'witan' to succeed to the kingdom (Æthelweard, p. 519), and was crowned on the Whitsunday following. His succession was disputed by one of his cousins, the ætheling Æthelwald, a son of Æthelred, the fourth son of Æthelwulf, who seized on two of the king's vills, Wimborne in Dorsetshire and Twynham (Christ Church) in Hampshire. The king led an army against him and encamped at Badbury, near Wimborne, but Æthelwald shut himself up in the town with his men and declared that he would 'either live there or lie there' (A.-S, Chron.) Nevertheless he escaped by night, and went to the Danes in Northumbria, who received him as king. Eadward entered Wimborne and sent the lady with whom Æthelwald lived back to her nunnery, for she had taken the veil before she joined her lover. For two or three years after this Eadward seems to have reigned in peace, save that there was some fighting between the Kentishmen and the Danes. Meanwhile Æthelwald was preparing to attack the kingdom, and in 904 he came to Essex from 'over sea' with a fleet that he had purchased, received the submission of the people, and obtained more ships from them. With these he sailed the next year to East Anglia and persuaded the Danes to join him in an invasion of Mercia. They overran the country, and even entered Wessex, crossing the Thames at Cricklade in Wiltshire, and then ravaged as far as Bredon in Worcestershire. Eadward retaliated by laying waste the western districts of East Anglia, and then ordered his army to return. The Kentishmen refused to obey the order, and waited to give battle to the Danes. A fierce conflict took place, and the Danes kept the battle-ground, but they lost more men than the English, and among the slain was the ætheling Æthelwald. His death put an end to the war. The next year (906) the peace which Ælfred had made with Guthrum-Æthelstan was renewed at Eadward's dictation at Ittingford, and he and the Danish under-king of East Anglia, Guthrum Eohricsson, joined in putting out laws which though binding both on tne English and the Danes, expressly recognised and confirmed the differences between the usages of the two peoples, though, indeed, these differences were very superficial (Thorpe, Ancient Laws, p.71).

The death of Æthelwald delivered Eadward from a dangerous rival, and enabled him, as soon as opportunity offered, to enter on his great work, the widening and strengthening of his immediate kingdom and the reduction of princes who reigned beyond its borders to a condition of dependence. He styled himself in his charters 'Angul-Saxonum rex,' treating the two races over which he reigned as one people. The treaty of 878 had left his house the kingship of the western half of the Mercian Angles and of the Saxons of the south; his father had ruled over both as separate peoples; he, though as yet there was little if any fusion between them, seems to have marked by this change in the royal style his intention to treat them as one (Green, Conquest of England p. 192). At the same time an important political distinction existed between them, for the Mercians were still governed by their own ealdorman, descended probably from the line of ancient Mercian kings. This, however, proved to be a source of strength rather than of weakness, for the ealdorman Æthelred had married the king's sister Æthelflæd [see Ethelfleda, and Eadward owed much of the prosperity of his reign to this marriage, and much too to the fact that no son was born of it to carry on the old line of separate, though now dependent, rulers.

The first measure of defence against Danish attacks was taken by Æthelred and his wife, who in 907 'restored,' that is fortified and colonised, Chester, and thus gained a port that might be used by ships employed in keeping off invasion by the Irish Ostmen, and established a stronghold commanding the Dee. In 910 Eadward was again at war with the Danes; they seem to have broken the peace, and in return an army of West-Saxons and Mercians ravaged Northumbria for the space of forty days. A battle was fought on 6 Aug. at Tettenhall in Staffordshire,where the Danes were defeated. Then Eadward went into Kent to gather his fleet together, for the Northmen infested the Channel, and he bade a hundred ships and their crews meet him there, so well had his father's work in naval organisation prospered. While he was in Kent in 911 the Northmen, reckoning that he had no other force at his disposal beyond that in his ships (A.-S. Chron.), again broke the peace, and,refusing to listen to the terms offered them by the king and the 'witan,' swept over the whole of Mercia to the Avon, and there embarked, no doubt in ships from Ireland, and did some damage to Wessex as they sailed on the Severn (Æthelweard, p. 519). They were stoutly resisted by the levy of those parts, and sustained much loss. Eadward's army, composed of both West-Saxons and Mercians, defeated them at Wodensfield in Staffordshire, with the loss of their two kings, Halfdan and Ecwils, and many of their principal men. In the course of this or of the next year the ealdorman Æthelred died, and Eadward gave the ealdormanship of Mercia to his widow Æthelflæd. At the same time he annexed London and Oxford, 'with all the lands which belonged thereto' (A.S. Chron.), he detached them from the Mercian ealdormanry, and definitely united them to the WestSaxon land. After the accession of Æthelflæd as sole ruler, with the title of the Lady of the Mercians, she carried on with extraordinary vigour the work, already begun during her husband's life, of guarding her dominions from attack by building 'burhs' or fortified settlements at different points of strategic importance, such as Tamworth and Stafford [see under Ethelfleda]. Meanwhile Eadward pursued a similar policy in the south-east. No longer waiting for the Danes to attack him, he advanced his border by building two burhs at Hertford to hold the passage of the Lea, and then marched into Essex and encamped at Maldon, while his men fortified Witham on the Blackwater. He thus added a good portion of Essex to his dominions, and 'much folk submitted to him that were before under the power of the Danish men' (ib.) Then, perhaps, followed a period of rest as far as Eadward and the West-Saxons were concerned, though Æthelflæd still went on with her work, securing the Mercian border against the Danes and the Welsh. In 915 Eadward was suddenly called on to defend his land from foreign invasion, for a viking fleet from Brittany under two jarls sailed into the Severn, attacked the Welsh, and took the Bishop of Llandaff prisoner. Eadward ransomed the bishop, and sent a force to guard the coast of Somerset. The Northmen landed, and were defeated with great loss by the levies of Gloucester and Hereford; they then made attempts to land at Watchet and Porlock in Somerset, but were beaten off. Some landed on one of the Holms in the Bristol Channel, and many of them died of hunger on the island. Finally the remainder of them sailed away to Ireland. Later in the year Eadward began to advance his border in a new direction, and attacked the Danish settlements on the Ouse; he took Buckingham after a siege of four weeks, and raised fortifications there. Then the jarl Thurcytel, who held Bedford, and all the chief men there, and many of those who belonged to the settlement of Northampton, submitted to him.

From the submission of Thurcytel, which should probably be placed under 915 (A.-S. Chron., Mercian; Florence; under 918, according to A.-S. Chron. Winton, followed by Green), the chronology of the reign is very confused. In this attempt to deal with it, as far as seems necessary for the present purpose, the Mercian has for obvious reasons been preferred to the Winchester version of the 'Chronicle,' considerable weight has been given to Florence of Worcester, and the deaths of Æthelflæd in 918 and Eadward in 924 have been assumed as settled. After receiving the submission of Thurcytel and his 'holds,' Eadward went to Bedford early in November, stayed there a month, and fortified it with a 'burh' on the southern side of the river. After a while Thurcytel and his Danes, finding that England was no place for them under such a King, obtained his leave to take ship and depart to 'Frankland.' Eadward restored Maldon and put a garrison there, perhaps in 917 {A.-S. Chron., Winton, 920; Florence,918), and the next year advanced to Towcester, built a 'burh' there, and ordered the fortification of Wigmore in Herefordshire. Then a vigorous effort was made by the Danes of Mercia and East Anglia to recover the ground thev had lost. They besieged Towcester, Bedford, and Wigmore, but in each case were beaten off. A great host, partly from Huntingdon and partly from East Anglia, raised a 'work' at Tempsford as a point of attack on the English line of the Ouse, leaving Huntingdon deserted. This army was defeated, with the loss of the Danish king of East Anglia and many others, and an attack made on Maldon by the East Angles, in alliance with a viking fleet, was also foiled. Finally Eadward compelled the jarl Thurferth and the Danes of Northampton 'to seek him for father and lord,' and fortified Huntingdon and Colchester. The year was evidently a critical one; the struggle ended in the complete victory of the English king, who received the submission of the Danes of East Anglia, Essex, and Cambridge.

Meanwhile the Lady of the Mercians had, after some trouble, compelled the Welsh to keep the peace, and had then turned against the Danes of the Five Boroughs, subduing Derby and Leicester. She lived to hear that the people of York had submitted to her, and then died at Tamworth on 12 June 918 [on this date see under Ethelfleda. Her vigorous policy had done much to forward the success of her brother. Between them they had succeeded in setting up a line of strongly fortified places which guarded all the approaches from the north from the Blackwater to the Lea, from the Lea to the Ouse, and from the Ouse to the Dee and the Mersey. Eadward was completing the reduction of the Fen country by the fortification of Stamford, when he heard of her death. He reduced Nottingham, another of the Five Boroughs, and caused it to be fortified afresh and colonised partly by Englishmen and partly by Danes. This brought the reconquest of the Mercian Danelaw to a triumphant close, and Eadward now took a step bv which the people of English Mercia, as well as of the newly conquered district, were brought into immediate dependence on the English king, Æthelflæds daughter Ælfwyn was, it is said, sought in marriage by Sihtric, the Danish king of York (Caradoc, p. 47). This marriage would have given all the dominions that Æthelflæd had acquired, and all the vast influence which she exercised, into the hands of the Danes. Eadward therefore would not allow Ælfwyn to succeed to her mother's power, and in 919 carried her away into Wessex. The notice of this measure given by Henry of Huntingdon probably preserves the feelings of anger and regret with which the Mercians saw the extinction of the remains of their separate political existence. The ancient Mercian realm was now fully incorporated with Wessex, and all the people in the Mercian land, Danes as well as English, submitted to Eadward. A most important step was thus accomplished in the union of the kingdom.

The death of Æthelflæd appears to have roused the Danes to fresh activity; Sihtric made a raid into Cheshire (Symeon, an. 920), and a body of Norwegians from Ireland, who had perhaps been allowed by Æthelflæd to colonise the country round Chester, laid siege to, and possibly took, the town ('urbem Legionum,' Gesta Regum § 133. Mr. Green appears to take this as Leicester, and to believe that the passage refers to the raid of the Danes from Northampton and Leicester on Towcester, placed by the Winchester chronicler under 921, and by Florence, followed in the text, under 918. The help that the pagans received from the Welsh makes it almost certain that William of Malmesbury records a war at Chester, and possibly the siege that in the 'Fragment' of MacFirbisigh is assigned to the period of the last illness of the Mercian ealdorman Æthelred; see under Ethelfleda. Eadward recovered the city, and received the submission of the Welsh, 'for the kings of the North Welsh and all the North Welsh race sought him for lord.' He now turned to a fresh enterprise; he desired to close the road from Northumbria into Middle England that gave Manchester its earliest importance, as well as to prepare for an attack on York, where a certain Ragnar had been received as king, Accordingly he fortified and colonised Thelwall, and sent an army to take Manchester in Northumbria, to renew its walls and to man them. This completed the line of fortresses which began with Chester, and he next set about connecting it with the strong places he had gained in the district of the Five Boroughs, for he strengthened Nottingham and built a 'burh' at Bakewell in Peakland, which commanded the Derwent standing about midway between Manchester and Derby. After recording how he placed a garrison in Bakewell, the Winchester chronicler adds: 'And him there chose to father and to lord the Scot king and all the Scot people, and Regnald, and Eadulf's son, and all that dwelt in Northumbrian whether Englishmen, or Danish, or Northmen, or other, and eke the king of the Strathclyde Welsh and all the Strathclyde Welsh' (an. 924, A.-S. Chron., Winton; but this is certainly too late, and 921 seems a better date; comp. Flor. Wig.) In these words the most brilliant writer on the reign finds evidence of a forward march of the king, of a formidable northern league formed to arrest his progress, of the submission of the allies, and of a visit to the English camp, probably at Dore, in which 'the motley company of allies' owned Eadward as their lord (Conquest of England, pp. 216,217). While there is nothing improbable in all this, the picture is without historical foundation. It is best not to go beyond what is written, especially as there is some ground for believing that the 'entry cannot be contemporary'(ib.) We may, however, safely accept it as substantially correct. Its precise meaning has been strenuously debated, for it was used by Edward I as the earliest precedent on which he based his claim to the allegiance of the Scottish crown (Hemingburqh, ii. 198). Dr. Freeman attaches extreme importance to it as conveying the result, in the case of Scotland, of 'a solemn national act,' from which may be dated the 'permanent superiority' of the English crown (Norman Conquest, i, 60, 128, 610). On the other hand, it is slighted by Robertson (Scotland under her Early Kings, ii. 384 sq.) It must clearly be interpreted by the terms used of other less important submissions. When the kings made their submission they entered into exactly the same relationship to the English king as that which had been entered into by the jarl Thurferth and his army when they sought Eadward 'for their lord and protector.' They found the English king too strong for them, and rather than fight him they 'commended' themselves to him, and entered into his 'peace.' The tie thus created was personal, and was analogous to that which existed between the lord and his comitatus. It marked the preponderating power of Eadward,but in itself it should perhaps scarcely be held as more than 'an episode in the struggle for supremacy in the north' (Green). Eadward thus succeeded in carrying the bounds of his immediate kingdom as far north as the Humber, and in addition to this was owned by all other kings and their peoples in the island as their superior.

In the midst of his wars he found time for some important matters of civil and ecclesiastical administration. Two civil developments of this period were closely connected with his wars. The conquest of the Danelaw and the extinction of the Mercian ealdormanry appear to have led to the extension of the West-Saxon system of shire-division to Mercia. While it is not probable that this system was carried out at all generally even in Mercia 'till after Eadward's death, the beginning of it may at least be traced to his reign, and appears in the annexation of London and Oxford with their subject lands Middlesex and Oxfordshire. Another change, the increase of the personal dignity of the king and the acceptance of a new idea of the duty of the subject, is also connected with conquest. The conouered Danes still remained outside the English people, they had no share in the old relationship between the race and the king, they made their submission to the king personally, and placed themselves imder his personal protection. Thus the king's dignity was increased, and a new tie, that of personal loyalty, first to be observed in the laws of Ælfred, was strengthened as regards all his people. Accordingly, at a witenagemot held at Exeter, Eadward proposed that all 'should be in that fellowship that he was, and love that which he loved, and shun that which he shunned, both on sea and land.' The loyalty due from the dwellers in the Danelaw was demanded of all alike. The idea of the public peace was gradually giving place to that of the king's peace. Other laws of Eadward concern the protection of the buyer, the administration of justice, and the like. In these, too, there may be discerned the increase of the royal pre-eminence. The law-breaker is for the first time said to incur the guilt of 'oferhyrnes' towards the king; in breaking the law he had shown 'contempt' of the royal authority (Thorpe, Ancient Laws, pp. 68-75 Stubbs, Constitutional History, i. 175, 183). In ecclesiastical afiairs Eadward seems to have been guided by his father's advisers. He kept Grimbold with him and, at his instance it is said, completed the 'New Minster,' Ælfred's foundation at Winchester, and endowed it largely (Liber de Hyda, 111; Ann, Winton, 10). Asser appears to have resided at his court(Kemble, Codex Dipl. 335, 337), and he evidently acted cordially with Archbishop Plegmund. The increase he made in the episcopate in southern England is connected with a story told by William of Malmesbury, who says (Gesta Regum, ii. 129) that in 904 the West-Saxon bishoprics had lain vacant for seven years, and that Pope Formosus wrote threatening Eadward and his people with excommunication for their neglect, that the king then held a synod over which Plegmund presided, that the two West-Saxon dioceses were divided into five, and that Plegmund consecrated seven new bishops in one day. As it stands this story must be rejected, for Formosus died in 896. Still it is true that in 909 the sees of Winchester, Sherborne, and South-Saxon Selsey were all vacant, and that Eadward and Plegmund separated Wiltshire and Berkshire from the see of Winchester and formed them into the diocese of was Ramsbury, and made Somerset and Devonshire, which lay in the bishopric of Sherborne, two separate dioceses, with their sees at Wells and Crediton. Five West-Saxon bishops and two bishops for Selsey and Dorchester were therefore consecrated by Plegmund, possibly at the same time (Anglia Sacra, i. 554; Reg. Sac. Anglic, 13).

The 'Unconquered King,' as Florence of Worcester calls him, died at Farndon in Northamptonshire in 924, in the twenty-fourth year of his reign (A.-S. Chron., Worcester; Florence; Symeon; 925 A.-S.Chron,Winton). As Æthelstan calls 929 the sixth year of his reign (Kemble, Codex Dipl. 347, 348), it is obvious that Eadward must have died in 924, and there are some reasons for believing that he died in the August of that year (Memorials of Dunstan, introd; lxxiv n.) He was buried in the 'New Minster' of Winchester. By Eegwyn, a lady of high rank (Flor. Wig.), or, according to later and untrustworthy tradition, a shepherd's daughter(Gesta Regum, ii. 131, 139; Liber de Hyda, 111), who seems to have been his concubine he had his eldest son Æthelstan, who succeeded him, possibly a son named Ælfred, not the rebel ætheling of the next reign, and a daughter Eadgyth, who in the year of her father's death was given in marriage by her brother to Sihtric, the Danish king of Northumbria. By 901 he was married to Ælflæd, daughter of Æthelhelm, one of his thegns, and Ealhswith (Kemble, Codex Dipl. 333). She bore him Ælfweard, who is said to have been learned, and who died sixteen days after his father, and probably Eadwine, drowned at sea in 933 (A.-S. Chron. sub an.), possibly by order of his brother (Symeon, Mon. Hist. Brit. p. 686; Gesta Regum, § 139), though the story, especially in its later fuller form, is open to doubt (Freeman, Hist, Essays, i. 10-15), and six daughters: Æthelflæd, a nun perhaps at Wilton (Gesta Regum, iii. 126) or at Rumsey (Liber de Hyda, 112); Eadgifu, married in 919 by her father to Charles the Simple, and after his death to Herbert, count of Troyes, in 951 (Acta SS. Bolland. Mar. xii. 750); Æthelhild, a nun at Wilton; Eadhild, married by her brother to Hugh the Great, count of Paris; Ælgifu, called in France Adela, married about 936 to Eblus, son of the count of Aquitane (Richard Pict., Bouquet,ix. 21); Eadgyth or Edith married in 930 to Otto afterwards emperor, and died on 26 Jan. 947, after her husband became king, but before he became emperor, deeply regretted by all the Saxon people (Widukindi. 37, ii. 41). Eadward's second wife (or third, if Eegwyn is reckoned) was Eadgifu, by whom he had Eadmund and Eadred, who both came to the throne, and two daughters, Eadburh or Edburga, a nun at Winchester, of whose precocious piety William of Malmesbury tells a story (Gesta Regum, ii. 217), and Eadgifu, married to Lewis, king of Arles or Provence. Besides these, he is said to have had a son called Gregory, who went to Rome and became a monk, and afterwards abbot of Einsiedlen.

[Anglo-Saxon Chron. sub ann.; Florence of Worcester, sub ann, (Engl. Hist. Soc,); William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum §§ 112, 124-6, 129, 131, 139 (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Gesta Pontificum, 177, 395 (Rolls Ser.); Henry of Huntingdon 742, Mon. Hist. Brit.; Symeon of Durham 686, Mon. Hist. Brit.; Æthelweard, 519, Mon. Hist. Brit.; Liber de Hyda, 111, 112 (Rolls Ser.); Annales Winton. 10 (Rolls Ser.); Thorpe's Ancient Laws and Institutes, 68-75; Kemble's Codex Dipl. ii.188-49; Three Irish Fragments by Dubhaltach MacFirbisigh, ed. O'Donovan (Irish Archæol and Celtic Soc.); Widukind's Res Gestæ Saxionicæ, i. 37, ii. 41, Pertz; Caradoc's Princes of Wales, 47; Recueil des Historians, Bouquet, ix. 21; Stubb's Constitutional Hist. i. 176, 183, and Registrum Sacrum Anglic 13; Freeman's Norman Conquest, i. 58-61, 610; Robertson's Scotland under her early Kings, ii. 384 sq.; Green's Conquest of England, 178-215-the best account we have of the wars of Eadward and Æthelflæd; Lappenberg's Anglo-Saxon Kings (Thorpe), ii. 85 sq.]

W. H.