Biography of King Edward "Martyr" I of England 962-978

Paternal Family Tree: Wessex

959 Death of King Eadwig

975 Death of King Edgar Peaceful

978 Murder of King Edward the Martyr

Death of King Eadwig

On 01 Oct 959 [his uncle] Eadwig "All Fair" I King England died. He was buried at Winchester, Hampshire [Map]. His brother [his father] King Edgar "Peaceful" I of England (age 16) succeeded I King England.

Around 962 King Edward "Martyr" I of England was born illegitimately to King Edgar "Peaceful" I of England (age 19) and Æthelflaed 2 Unknown.

Around 962 [his father] King Edgar "Peaceful" I of England (age 19) and Aelfthryth Queen Consort England (age 17) were married. She by marriage Queen Consort England. She the daughter of Ordgar Earldorman Devon. He the son of King Edmund I of England and Aelfgifu of Shaftesbury Queen Consort England.

William of Malmesbury Book 2 Chapter 9. 975In the year of our Lord 975, Edward (age 13) the son of Edgar (age 32) began to reign, and enjoyed the sovereignty for three years and a half. Dunstan (age 66), in common consent with the other bishops, elevated him to the royal dignity, in opposition, as it is said, to the will of some of the nobility, and of his stepmother (age 30); who was anxious to advance her son [his half-brother] Ethelred (age 9), a child scarcely seven years of age, in order that herself might govern under colour of his name. Then, from the increasing malice of men, the happiness of the kingdom was impaired; then too, comets were seen, which were asserted certainly to portend either pestilence to the inhabitants, or a change in the government. Nor was it long ere there followed a scarcity of corn; famine among men; murrain among cattle; and an extraordinary accident at a royal town called Calne. For as soon as Edgar (age 32) was dead, the secular canons who had been for some time expelled their monasteries, rekindled the former feuds, alleging, that it was a great and serious disgrace, for new comers to drive the ancient inmates from their dwellings; that it could not be esteemed grateful to God, who had granted them their ancient habitations: neither could it be so to any considerate man, who might dread that injustice as likely to befall himself, which he had seen overtake others. Hence they proceeded to clamour and rage, and hastened to Dunstan (age 66); the principal people, as is the custom of the laity, exclaiming more especially, that the injury which the canons had wrongfully suffered, ought to be redressed by gentler measures. Moreover, one of them, Elferius, with more than common audacity, had even overturned almost all the monasteries which that highly revered monk Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester (age 71), had built throughout Mercia. On this account a full synod being convened, they first assembled at Winchester. What was the issue of the contest of that place, other writings declare;1 relating, that the image of our Saviour, speaking decidedly, confounded the canons and their party. But men's minds being not yet at rest on the subject, a council was called at Calne; where, when all the senators of England, the king being absent on account of his youth, had assembled in an upper chamber, and the business was agitated with much animosity and debate; while the weapons of harsh reproach were directed against that firmest bulwark of the church, I mean Dunstan (age 66), but could not shake it; and men of every rank were earnestly defending their several sides of the question; the floor with its beams and supporters gave way suddenly and fell to the ground. All fell with it except Dunstan (age 66), who alone escaped unhurt by standing on a single rafter which retained its position: the rest were either killed, or subjected to lasting infirmity. This miracle procured the archbishop peace on the score of the canons; all the English, both at that time and afterwards, yielding to his sentiments.

Note 1. When the question was agitated, whether the monks should be supported or the canons restored, the crucifix is said to have exclaimed, "Far be it from you: you have done well; to change again would be wrong". See Edmer, and Osberne, Angl. Sacra, ii. 219, 112.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 975. Here ended his earthly dreams [his father] Edgar, of Angles king (age 32); chose him other light, serene and lovely, spurning this frail abode, a life that mortals here call lean he quitted with disdain. July the month, by all agreed in this our land, whoever were in chronic lore correctly taught; the day the eighth, when Edgar young, rewarder of heroes, his life-his throne-resigned. Edward (age 13) his son, unwaxen child, of earls the prince, succeeded then to England's throne. Of royal race ten nights before departed hence Cyneward the good- prelate of manners mild. Well known to me in Mercia then, how low on earth God's glory fell on every side: chaced from the land, his servants fled,- their wisdom scorned; much grief to him whose bosom glow'd with fervent love of great Creation's Lord! Neglected then the God of wonders, victor of victors, monarch of heaven,- his laws by man transgressed! Then too was driv'n Oslac beloved an exile far from his native land over the rolling waves,- over the ganet-bath, over the water-throng, the abode of the whale,- fair-hair'd hero, wise and eloquent, of home bereft! Then too was seen, high in the heavens, the star on his station, that far and wide wise men call- lovers of truth and heav'nly lore- "cometa" by name. Widely was spread God's vengeance then throughout the land, and famine scour'd the hills. May heaven's guardian, the glory of angels, avert these ills, and give us bliss again; that bliss to all abundance yields from earth's choice fruits, throughout this happy isle.45

Note 45. The following passage from Cotton Tiberius B iv., relating to the accession of Edward the Martyr (age 13), should be added here- In his days, On account of his youth, The opponents of God Broke through God's laws; Alfhere alderman, And others many; And marr'd monastic rules; Minsters they razed, And monks drove away, And put God's laws to flight-Laws that King Edgar (age 32) Commanded the holy Saint Ethelwold (age 71) bishop Firmly to settle-Widows they stript Oft and at random. Many breaches of right And many bad laws Have arisen since; And after-times Prove only worse. Then too was Oslac The mighty earl Hunted from England's shores.

Death of King Edgar Peaceful

On 08 Jul 975 [his father] King Edgar "Peaceful" I of England (age 32) died at Winchester, Hampshire [Map]. He was buried in Glastonbury Abbey [Map]. His son King Edward "Martyr" I of England (age 13) succeeded I King England.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 977. This year was that great council at Kirtlington46, after Easter; and there died Bishop Sideman a sudden death, on the eleventh day before the calends of May. He was Bishop of Devonshire; and he wished that his resting-place should be at Crediton, Devon, his episcopal residence; but King Edward (age 15) and Archbishop Dunstan (age 68) ordered men to carry him to St. Mary's minster [Map] that is at Abingdon. And they did so; and he is moreover honourably buried on the north side in St. Paul's porch.

Note 46. Florence of Worcester mentions three synods this year; Kyrtlinege, Calne, and Ambresbyrig.

Murder of King Edward the Martyr

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 18 Mar 978. Edward, king of England (age 16), was foully murdered at Corvesireate [Map], at the instigations of his step-mother, queen Elfthritha (age 33), and was buried at Wareham [Map] without royal pomp.

William of Malmesbury Book 2 Chapter 9. 18 Mar 978. Meanwhile king Edward (age 16) conducted himself with becoming affection to his [his half-brother] infant brother (age 12) and his step-mother (age 33); he retained only the name of king, and gave them the power; following the footsteps of his father's piety, and giving both his attention and his heart to good council. The woman (age 33), however, with that hatred which a step-mother only can entertain, began to meditate a subtle stratagem, in order that not even the title of king might be wanting to her child, and to lay a treacherous snare for her son-in-law [step-son], which she accomplished in the following manner. He was returning home, tired with the chase and gasping with thirst from the exercise, while his companions were following the dogs in different directions as it happened, when hearing that they dwelt in a neighbouring mansion, the youth proceeded thither at full speed, unattended and unsuspecting, as he judged of others by his own feelings. On his arrival, alluring him to her with female blandishment, she made him lean forward, and after saluting him while he was eagerly drinking from the cup which had been presented, the dagger of an attendant pierced him through. Dreadfully wounded, with all his remaining strength he clapped spurs to his horse in order to join his companions; when one foot slipping, he was dragged by the other through the trackless paths and recesses of the wood, while the streaming blood gave evidence of his death to his followers. Moreover, they then commanded him to be ingloriously interred at Wareham; envying him even holy ground when dead, as they had envied him his royal dignity while living. They now publicly manifested their extreme joy as if they had buried his memory with his body; but God's all-seeing eye was there, who ennobled the innocent victim by the glory of miracles. So much is human outweighed by heavenly judgment. For there lights were shown from above; there the lame walked; there the dumb resumed his fticulty of speech; there every malady gave way to health. The fame of this pervading all England, proclaimed the merits of the martyr. The murderess excited by it, attempted a progress thither; and was already urging forward the horse slie had mounted, when she perceived the manifest anger of God; for the same creature which she had heretofore constantly ridden, and which was used to outstrip the very wind in speed, now by command of God, stood motionless. The attendants, both with whips and clamours, urged him forward that he might carry his noble mistress with his usual readiness; but their labour was in vain. They changed the horse; and the same circumstance recurred. Her obdurate heart, though late, perceived the meaning of the miracle; wherefore, what she was not herself permitted to do, she suffered to be performed by another: for that Elferius, whom I before blamed for destroying the monasteries, repenting of his rashness, and being deeply distressed in mind, took up the sacred corpse from its unworthy burial-place, and paid it just and distinguished honours at Shaftesbury [Map]. He did not escape unpunished, however, for, within a year afterwards, he was eaten of the vermin which we call lice. Moreover, since a mind unregulated is a torment to itself, and a restless spirit endures its own peculiar punishment in this life, Elfthrida declining from her regal pride, became extremely penitent; so that at Werewell [Map], for many years, she clothed her pampered body in hair-cloth, slept at night upon the ground without a pillow; and mortified her flesh with every kind of penance. She was a beautiful woman; singularly faithful to her husband; but deserving punishment from the commission of so great a crime. It is believed and commonly reported, that from her violence to Edward, the country for a long time after groaned under the yoke of barbarian servitude.

On 18 Mar 978 King Edward "Martyr" I of England (age 16) was murdered at Corfe Castle, Dorset [Map] when visiting his younger half-brother [his half-brother] Æthelred (age 12) and his [Æthelred's] mother Aelfthryth (age 33). He was buried in Wareham, Dorset [Map] without ceremony. His half brother King Æthelred "Unready" II of England (age 12) succeeded II King England.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 978. This year was King Edward (age 16) slain, at eventide, at Corfe-gate [Map], on the fifteenth day before the calends of April. And he was buried at Wareham, Dorset [Map] without any royal honour. No worse deed than this was ever done by the English nation since they first sought the land of Britain. Men murdered him but God has magnified him. He was in life an earthly king-he is now after death a heavenly saint. Him would not his earthly relatives avenge-but his heavenly father has avenged him amply. The earthly homicides would wipe out his memory from the earth-but the avenger above has spread his memory abroad in heaven and in earth. Those, Who would not before bow to his living body, now bow on their knees to His dead bones. Now we may conclude, that the wisdom of men, and their meditations, and their counsels, are as nought against the appointment of God. In this same year succeeded [his half-brother] Ethelred Etheling (age 12), his brother, to the government; and he was afterwards very readily, and with great joy to the counsellors of England, consecrated king at Kingston [Map]. In the same year also died Alfwold, who was Bishop of Dorsetshire, and whose body lieth in the minster at Sherborn [Map].

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 980. In this year was Ethelgar consecrated bishop, on the sixth day before the nones of May, to the bishopric of Selsey; and in the same year was Southampton, Hampshire [Map] plundered by a pirate-army, and most of the population slain or imprisoned. And the same year was the Isle of Thanet [Map] overrun, and the county of Chester was plundered by the pirate-army of the North. In this year Alderman Alfere fetched the body of the holy King Edward at Wareham, Dorset [Map], and carried him with great solemnity to Shaftsbury [Map]

King Edward "Martyr" I of England 962-978 appears on the following Descendants Family Trees:

King Alfred "The Great" of Wessex 849-899

Royal Ancestors of King Edward "Martyr" I of England 962-978

Kings Wessex: Son of King Edgar "Peaceful" I of England

Ancestors of King Edward "Martyr" I of England 962-978

Great x 4 Grandfather: Egbert King Wessex

Great x 3 Grandfather: King Æthelwulf of Wessex

Great x 2 Grandfather: King Alfred "The Great" of Wessex

Great x 4 Grandfather: Oslac

Great x 3 Grandmother: Osburgh Queen Consort Wessex

Great x 1 Grandfather: King Edward "Elder" of the Anglo Saxons

Great x 3 Grandfather: Æthelred Mucel Mercia Earldorman Gaini

Great x 2 Grandmother: Æalhswith of Mercia Queen Consort of England

Great x 3 Grandmother: Eadburh of Mercia

GrandFather: King Edmund I of England

Great x 2 Grandfather: Sigehelm Earldorman Kent

Great x 1 Grandmother: Eadgifu Kent Queen Anglo Saxons

Father: King Edgar "Peaceful" I of England

GrandMother: Aelfgifu of Shaftesbury Queen Consort England

King Edward "Martyr" I of England

Mother: Æthelflaed 2 Unknown