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Royalty
Index

Kings of England


Edgar,

king of England (known as the Peaceful or Peaceable) was born in 944 and was the younger of the two sons of Edmund I. During the reign of his brother Edwy, he was chosen king of Mercia and Northumbria, and succeeded Edwy in 959. He recalled Dunstan (previously exiled by his brother Edwy), made him bishop of Worcester, of London, and, on the death of Odo, archbishop of Canterbury, and gave himself up to his direction. His reign was notable for the establishment of national consolidation, reformation of the clergy, improvement of the judiciary system. The reign of Edgar was peaceful, the Northmen making no descents on England, perhaps in consequence of the large fleet kept up by the king. Monasteries were restored, and many new ones built; the married clergy expelled, and church power raised to a higher point than before, which made Edgar a favourite and got him a good name with monkish historians. Edgar was not crowned till 973, and the same year took place the stately ceremonial on the Dee, when six or eight subject kings attended him. Edgar is said to have imposed on the Welsh an annual tribute of 300 wolves' heads, instead of a money tax. Died, 975. He left two sons, Edward(the Martyr) and Ethelred, who both succeeded to the crown.

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St. Edmund,

king of the East Angles from 855 to 870. He is said to have been distinguished for justice and piety. In 870 he was defeated and taken prisoner by the Danes, who caused him to be fastened to a tree, and to be shot to death with arrows. His head was cut off; and his remains were interred at the place named after him, Bury St. Edmunds.

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Edmund I.,

king of England, son of Edward the Elder, succeeded his brother Athelstan in 941. He subdued Northumbria and Cumbria, and was almost constantly engaged in war with the Danes settled in England. He was killed in 946, while at a banquet, by an outlaw named Liofa, who entered among the guests, and provoked the king to a personal attack upon him.

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Edmund II.,

surnamed Ironside, on account of his strength, or perhaps from the armour he wore, was the son of Ethelred II., whom he succeeded in 1016; but being opposed by Canute, he agreed to share the crown with him. London was twice besieged by the Danes in his reign, and many battles were fought, Edmund being finally defeated at Assandune. After a reign of nine months only, he is said to have been treacherously murdered in 1017.

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Edred,

king of England, was son of Edward the Elder, and succeeded his brother Edmund I. in 946. He suppressed a revolt of the Northumbrians, received from them oaths of fidelity which they immediately broke, and again he subdued them. Edred was of feeble health, and inclined to an ascetic life. He had for chief adviser, during the latter part of his reign, the celebrated Dunstan. Died, 955.

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Edwy,

or Eadwig, king of England, son of Edmund I., succeeded his uncle Edred in 955. He opposed the temporal power of St. Dunstan, called him to account for his share in the administration of the preceding reign, and banished him. A revolt broke out soon after in Mercia and Northumbria, promoted probably by the influence of Dunstan and his party, and Edgar was chosen king of those provinces. Edwy, by his marriage with Elgiva, who was related to him, deeply offended the clerical party, and Archbishop Odo, with the approval and support of Dunstan, separated them, not without acts of terrible cruelty. Elgiva was put to death, and Edwy, not 19 years of age, died soon after, 959.

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Egbert,

Egbert, king of Wessex, was a descendant of Cerdic, the founder of that kingdom. While young he was banished by Brihtric, and after a short stay at the court of Offa, fled to France, and lived at the court of Charlemagne. He succeeded Brihtric in 800, and appears to have reigned in peace till 809, when he began to make war on the tribes occupying the south-west quarter of England. Ten years later he began the course of conquest which ended in making him, in 827, king of all England. He then received the ancient honourable title of Bretwalda, which had long been disused. The sovereigns of Mercia, East Anglia, and Northumbria were, however, not dispossessed, but became tributary to Egbert. In the latter years of his reign the Northmen made several descents upon England, and were defeated by him in Cornwall in 835. Egbert died in 839, and was succeeded by his son Ethelwolf.

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Ethelbert,

king of Kent, succeeded to the throne A.D. 560. About five years later he married Bertha, daughter of Charibert, king of Paris, a Christian princess, who came to Britain accompanied by a Gallic bishop. Ethelbert was acknowledged Bretwalda on the fall of Ceawlin, king of Wessex, about 590. The mission of St. Augustine took place in 597, Ethelbert was baptized, and Augustine was made archbishop of Canterbury. Christianity was soon after established among the East Saxons and in Northumbria. The code of laws which Ethelbert published in English, about 600, is the first of our written laws, and the earliest in any modern language. Ethelbert died in 616, and was afterwards canonized.

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Ethelbert,

king of England, the second son of Ethelwolf, whose kingdom he shared with his brother Ethelbald in 858, and succeeded to the whole on Ethelbald's death in 860. He was a virtuous prince, and beloved by his subjects. Died, 866.

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Ethelred I.,

king of England, son of Ethelwolf succeeded his brother Ethelbert, in 866. The Danes became so formidable in his reign as to threaten the conquest of the whole kingdom. Assisted by his brother Alfred, Ethelred drove them from the centre of Mercia, whither they had penetrated; but the Mercians refusing to act with him, he was obliged to trust to the West Saxons alone, his hereditary subjects. After various successes, the invaders continually increasing in numbers, Ethelred died, in consequence of a wound received in an action with them, in 871.

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Ethelred II.,

king of England, the son of Edgar, succeeded his brother, Edward the Martyr, in 979, and, for his want of vigour and capacity, was surnamed the Unready. He paid a tribute to the Danes, raised by a tax called Danegelt, levied on his subjects. To free himself from this oppression, he caused all the Danes in England to be treacherously massacred in one day (Nov.13, 1002). On this Sweyn, king of Denmark, invaded his kingdom and compelled him to fly to Normandy, but Sweyn dying soon after, Ethelred returned and resumed the government. He died in 1016, while Canute was preparing his great expedition.

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Ethelwolf,

king of England, succeeded his father, Egbert, in 839, and gave to his son, Athelstan, the sovereignty over Essex, Kent, and Sussex. In the year 851 the Danes invaded the kingdom in excessive numbers, and threatened its total subjugation; for though vigorously opposed by Athelstan and others, they fixed their winter quarters in Thanet, and the same year took Canterbury and London. During these troubles, Ethelwolf, accompanied by Alfred, his youngest son, made a pilgrimage to Rome, where he remained a year, and, on his return, found Athelstan dead, and succeeded by his next son, Ethelbald, who had entered into a conspiracy with some of the nobles to prevent his father from again ascending the throne. To avoid a civil war, the king gave up the western division of the kingdom to his son, and soon after, summoning the great council of the kingdom, gave a tenth part of the land to the church. The meaning and effect of this grant has been much discussed, and still remains doubtful. That it formed the foundation of the claim of tithes, as once maintained, is no longer held. Died, 857.

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The above information was gleaned from
various sources and then put together
by Colin Hinson 1996.


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