Edmund I

Edmund I
Edmund I - MS Royal 14 B V.jpg
Edmund in the late thirteenth-century Genealogical Chronicle of the English Kings
King of the English
Tenure27 October 939 – 26 May 946
Coronationc. 29 November 939
probably at Kingston upon Thames[1]
PredecessorÆthelstan
SuccessorEadred
Born921
Wessex, England
Died26 May 946 (aged 24–25)
Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, England
Burial
SpouseÆlfgifu of Shaftesbury
Æthelflæd of Damerham
IssueEadwig
Edgar the Peaceful
HouseWessex
FatherEdward the Elder

Edmund I (Old English: Ēadmund, pronounced [æːɑdmund]; 921 – 26 May 946) was King of the English from 939 until his death. His epithets include the Elder, the Deed-doer, the Just, and the Magnificent.[2]

Edmund was the son of Edward the Elder and his third wife Eadgifu of Kent, and a grandson of Alfred the Great. His father died when he was young, and was succeeded by his oldest son Æthelstan. Edmund came to the throne upon the death of his half-brother in 939, apparently with little opposition. His reign was marked by almost constant warfare, including conquests or reconquests of the Midlands, Northumbria, and Strathclyde (the last of which was ceded to Malcolm I of Scotland). Edmund was assassinated after six-and-a-half years as king, while attending Mass in Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire. He was initially succeeded by his brother Eadred, but his two sons—Eadwig and Edgar the Peaceful—both later came to the throne.

Early life and military threats

Edmund came to the throne as the son of Edward the Elder,[2] and therefore the grandson of Alfred the Great, great-grandson of Æthelwulf of Wessex and great-great grandson of Egbert of Wessex, who was the first of the house of Wessex to start dominating the Anglo Saxon realms. However, being born when his father was already a middle aged man, Edmund lost his father when he was a toddler, in 924, which saw his 30 year old half brother Athelstan come to the throne. Edmund would grow up in the reign of Athelstan, even participating in the Battle of Brunanburh in his adolescence in 937.[3]

Athelstan died in the year 939, which saw young Edmund come to the throne. Shortly after his proclamation as king, he had to face several military threats. King Olaf III Guthfrithson conquered Northumbria and invaded the Midlands. Edmund encountered him at Leicester, but Olaf escaped and a peace was brokered by Oda of Canterbury and Wulfstan I of York.[3] When Olaf died in 942, Edmund reconquered the Midlands.[2] In 943, Edmund became the godfather of King Olaf of York. In 944, Edmund was successful in reconquering Northumbria.[4] In the same year, his ally Olaf of York lost his throne and left for Dublin in Ireland. Olaf became the king of Dublin as Amlaíb Cuarán and continued to be allied to his godfather. In 945, Edmund conquered Strathclyde but ceded the territory to King Malcolm I of Scotland in exchange for a treaty of mutual military support.[4] Edmund thus established a policy of safe borders and peaceful relationships with Scotland. During his reign, the revival of monasteries in England began.