Late Anglo-Saxon Period Kings Of Wessex Essay, Research Paper
Late Anglo-Saxon Period Kings of Wessex
By the time Edward the Martyr took the throne in 975, Christianity was widespread throughout England and the rest of Britain. Edward was born in 963, and was just entering his teenage years when his father, Edgar, died. He made a claim to the throne, as the first son of the king. His half-brother Aethelred, son of the third wife, made another claim (qtd in Britannia 1). Edward was murdered when he rode to visit Aethelred at Corfe is Dorset. Aethelred s vassals pretended to welcome Edward, and in doing so, stabbed him. It is safe to assume that Aethelred would not have instigated this incident, being a mere seven years of age at the time. Edward was later canonized by his brother and was known as King Edward the Martyr.
Following the assassination of his brother, Edward, Aethelred was forced upon the English throne at the age of ten. Aethelred was married twice. His first wife, Elfigfu of Mercia, bore him no less than eleven children. His second marriage to Emma of Normandy produced three children. Throughout his reign as King, he was hindered by the fact that he could not fully trust the support of his generals at a time when the Danish invaders were a constant threat to the English. In an act of futile appeasement, Aethelred attempted to stop Danish cravings by paying what was known as Danegeld. Danegeld was an annual tax believed to have been imposed originally to buy off Danish invaders in England (m-w 1). In 1009, however, the King of the Danes, Sweyn, decided that as well as keeping the territory, and monies he had taken from the English, that he would now take the whole country. Four years later, in 1013, Sweyn had control of England and Aethelred had fled to Normandy to seek protection from Emma s brother, Robert the Good. Sweyn died in 1014 and Aethelred reclaimed the English crown for another 2 years before his death at the age of 48 in 1016.
Following the death of Aethelred, there was a bloody war of succession expected to take place between Sweyn s son, Cnut, and Edmund II, Aethelred s son. This war, didn t take place, however, simply because Cnut figured he could made do with Denmark and Norway. As a reminder to the English, though, he showed a typical Viking lack of mercy by having the English hostages mutilated.
Edmund did not enjoy a lengthy reign and it is suggested that he was murder only 7 months after he took the crown as King of England (qtd in Encarta 1). However he died, he was only 26 years old when he passed his final breath in London on the 30th of November, 1016.
Britannia Internet Magazine. 1998. September 9, 1999.
Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 1999. September 9, 1999
Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 1999. September 9, 1999