1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Edred

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EDRED (Eadred), king of the English (d. 955), was the youngest son of Edward the Elder and his wife Eadgifu. He succeeded his brother Edmund in the year 946 and at this time received the formal submission both of the Northumbrians and Scots. In the next year Edred himself went to Tanshelf, near Pontefract, in Yorkshire, where he received from Wulfstan, archbishop of York, and the Northumbrian “witan” confirmation of their submission. Shortly after they threw their pledges to the winds and took the Norwegian Eric Bloodaxe, son of Harold Fairhair (Harald Harfagar), as their king. Edred recklessly ravaged all Northumbria in revenge, burning Ripon during his march. On his return home Edred’s rearguard was attacked at Castleford, and the infuriated king once more turned to ravage Northumbria, which was only saved by its abandonment of Eric and by compensation made to Edred. Archbishop Wulfstan seems to have been a centre of disaffection in the north, and in 952 Edred caused him to be imprisoned in the castle of “Judanburh,” while in the same year the king, in revenge for the slaying of Abbot Eadelm, slew many of the citizens of Thetford. After the brief rule of Anlaf Cuaran in Northumbria, Eric was once more restored, probably in 950, only to be expelled again in 953 or 954, when Edred took the Northumbrian kingdom into his own hands. In the same year Wulfstan was liberated and appointed to the Mercian bishopric of Dorchester. Edred died on the 23rd of November 955 at Frome, in Somersetshire, and was buried in the old minster at Winchester. During the whole of his life Edred was troubled by ill-health, a fact which may help to explain some of the more passionate acts of violence attributed to him. The king was throughout his life on terms of personal intimacy with St Dunstan, and his public policy was largely guided by that prelate and by his own mother Eadgifu. So far as we know, Edred was never married.

Authorities.—The Saxon Chronicle (ed. Earle and Plummer, Oxford), sub ann.; Memorials of St Dunstan (Rolls Series, ed. Stubbs); Florence of Worcester; Birch, Cartularium Saxonicum, vol. iii., Nos. 815-834 and 860-931; D.N.B., art. sub voce.  (A. Mw.)