Edmund Ironside

Eumenis Megalopoulos | Jul 6, 2024

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Edmund Ironside (990 - 30 November 1016) King of Wessex and England (23 April 1016 - 30 November 1016) was the third son and heir of Ethelred of Wessex by the first wife of Elphgiphus of York, the daughter of the Earl of Northumbria. He was called "Ironfist" because of the incredible efforts he made beyond his means to deal with the invasion of the Danes of Knut. Edmund became the heir to his father's throne after the untimely death of his two older brothers Ethelstan Etheling and Eckberg Etheling, he also had many younger brothers such as Eadred Etheling, Edwig Etheling, Edgar Etheling the Elder and four sisters who became nuns. Edmund Elfgif's mother died (1000) and his father married in his second marriage Emma of Normandy with whom he had two half-brothers Edward the Confessor, Alfred Etheling and a half-sister Goda of England.

Edmund and his brothers were terrified by the ambitions of their adoptive mother, Emma of Normandy, who had set out to exclude them from the succession on behalf of her two sons. The Chronicles of Edward the Confessor which were written some 50 years later state that when Emma was pregnant with him the English nobles told his mother that they would accept her newborn son as king but the information is probably bordering on propaganda. Ethelstan died in June 1014 leaving a sword belonging to Ophas of Mercia to Edmond before his death, this demonstrates the close relationship that existed between the brothers as well as in the aristocratic circles of the East Midlands.

Sven I of Denmark then usurped the throne of England from his father who escaped to Normandy, Edmund and his brothers probably remained in England but Sven died soon after (February 1014). Ethelred returned unopposed to the throne of England, Knut was forced to flee to his native Denmark where he began preparations in earnest for the recapture of Denmark. After regaining the throne, the royal family of Wessex strengthened its holdings with the support of the powerful Earl of Streona who was Edmond's son-in-law. The English who had supported the Danes were severely punished, many of them were executed and their property was confiscated, the two brothers Siegeberth and Morkar who had been placed as kingdom governors by Sven were put to death by Count Streona himself. Edmond became Earl of the East Midlands and took as his wife Eldgith the widow of the executed Siegelberth after Ethelred had first seized her property. Cnut returned forcefully to England in August 1015 starting the plundering of the whole country, Edmond who was in temporary conflict with his father reconciled with him in order to defend their country from the threat of Cnut. In late 1015, Edmond gathered an army with the support of his wife and mother-in-law from the East Midlands and the north but his greatest ally up to that time, the powerful Count of Mercia Streona, betrayed him by declaring his allegiance to Knut. In early 1016 Edmond managed to gather a new army with the support of Utrend, Earl of Northumbria and began to plunder Streona's territories in Mercia, his father during this time was not seen probably due to his illness. But Cnut soon captured Northumbria, and Udred, in order to save his life, was forced to declare his allegiance to Cnut, Edmund returned to London.

Ethelred died on 23 April 1016, Edmund was crowned king by the people of London determined to fight Cnut to the end, Cnut laid siege to London and Edmund fled to Wessex where most of his followers were located in order to gather an army. He fought fierce battles with the Danes at Somerset and in Wilshire, in the Danish siege of London he managed to defeat them near Brentford temporarily relieving the city. He then returned to Wessex to raise a new army, the Earl of Mercia Streona again came to his side but at the decisive Battle of Assantan on 18 October 1016 Streona and his men escaped, Knut was the eventual great victor. The two kings decided at their new meeting afterwards to divide the country, Edmund would remain king only of Wessex and Knut of the whole of the rest of England together with Mercury and Northumbria. Edmund, however, died shortly afterwards on 30 November 1016 in London. There are many theories as to the cause of his death, most historians such as Henry of Huntington agree that he died of his wounds during his wars with the Danes. Edmund was buried with his grandfather Edgar the Pacific in Glastonbury Abbey which was destroyed during the religious reformation of the 16th century, since then the location in which his remains remain is unclear. The author M. K. Lawson (b. 1950) praises Edmund as an able and brave king among the few who have passed through England; his courage is likened only to that of Alfred the Great; Knut visited his tomb on the anniversary of his death wearing a tunic decorated with peacocks as a mark of respect.

Edmund and his wife Eldgith left two sons:

John of Worcester reports that Cnut sent the two young children to the king of Sweden in the hope of killing them. But King Olaf Skotkonung sent them to Kiev, to his daughter Igegerd, who had married Yaroslav the Wise, the great prince of Kiev. The two boys then moved to Hungary, where Edmund died. Edward the Exile managed to return to England, but died a few days after his arrival (1057). The latter's son, Edgar Etheling, was proclaimed king - briefly - after the Battle of Hastings (1066), but was then forced to declare allegiance to William I the Conqueror. He later took part in a series of rebellions against William I the Conqueror, always on the side of his eldest son Robert II of Normandy, whom he accompanied on his campaigns in Sicily and the First Crusade. Edward the Exile's daughter, Edward the Exiled, the:


  1. Edmund Ironside
  2. Έντμουντ ο Σιδηρόπλευρος
  3. ^ Numbers were not used to identify kings until well after the Norman Conquest of 1066, so their use to identify Anglo-Saxon kings is anachronistic. However, since Edmund I is usually identified as such, Edmund Ironside is sometimes referred to in the same manner.
  4. M. K. Lawson, Edmund II, Oxford Online DNB, 2004
  5. Roach 2017, p. 299.
  6. Roach 2017, p. 301-306.
  7. Roach 2017, p. 306-308.
  8. a b c et d Lawson 2004.
  9. «Five Boroughs of the Danelaw». Wikipedia (em inglês). 5 de abril de 2021. Consultado em 8 de abril de 2021
  10. a b «Edmund Ironside». 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. Consultado em 8 de abril de 2021
  11. de Huntingdon 1996, p. 361.

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