Edward the Exile (1016 – Late August 1057), also called Edward
Ætheling, son of King Edmund Ironside and of Ealdgyth. After the
Danish conquest of England in 1016 Canute had him and his brother,
Edmund, exiled to the Continent. Edward was only a few months old
when he and his brother were brought to the court of Olof Skötkonung,
(who was either Canute's half-brother or stepbrother), with
instructions to have the children murdered. Instead, the two boys
were secretly sent to Kiev, where Olof's daughter Ingigerd was the
Queen. Later Edward made his way to Hungary, probably in the retinue
of Ingigerd's son-in-law, András in 1046, who he supported in his
successful bid for the Hungarian throne.
Edward's wife was a
woman named Agatha, whose origins are disputed. Their children were
Saint Margaret of Scotland and Cristina. Edgar was
nominated as heir apparent, but was too young to count for much, and
was eventually swept aside by Harold Godwinson. Edward's grandchild
Edith of Scotland, also called Matilda, married King Henry I of
England, continuing the Anglo-Saxon line into the post-Conquest
Edmund Ironside or Edmund II (Old English: Eadmund II Isen-Healf)
(c. 988/993 – 30 November 1016), father of Edward the Exile,
was king of England from 23 April to 30 November 1016. His cognomen
"Ironside" is not recorded until 1057, but may have been
contemporary. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, it was given
to him "because of his valour" in resisting the Danish invasion led
by Cnut the Great.
Edmund had two
children by Ealdgyth, Edward the Exile and Edmund. According to John
of Worcester, Cnut sent them to the king of Sweden to be murdered,
but he sent them to Hungary, where Edmund died but Edward prospered.
He returned to England in 1057 only to die within days of his
Æthelred the Unready, or Æthelred II (c. 968 –
23 April 1016), was king of England (978–1013 and 1014–1016). He was
son of King Edgar and Queen Ælfthryth. Æthelred was only about 10
(no more than 13) when his half-brother Edward was murdered.
Æthelred was not personally suspected of participation, but as the
murder was committed at Corfe Castle by the attendants of Ælfthryth,
it made it more difficult for the new king to rally the nation
against the military raids by Danes, especially as the legend of St
Edward the Martyr grew. Later, Æthelred ordered a massacre of Danish
settlers in 1002 and also paid tribute, to Danish leaders from 991
onwards. His reign was much troubled by Danish Viking raiders. In
1013, Æthelred fled to Normandy and was replaced by Sweyn, who was
also king of Denmark. However, Æthelred returned as king after Sweyn
died in 1014.
"Unready" is a
mistranslation of Old English unræd (meaning bad-counsel) – a twist
on his name "Æthelred" (meaning noble-counsel). A better translation
would be Redeless - without counsel (Rede).
first Ælfgifu, daughter of Thored, earl of Northumbria, in about
985. Their known children are:
(died c. 1005)
(died before 1013)
(executed by Canute 1017)
Edgar Ætheling (died
Uchtred the Bold, ealdorman of Northumbria)
Abbess of Wherwell
In 1002 Æthelred
married Emma of Normandy, sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy.
Their children were:
Edward the Confessor
Goda of England
(married 1 Drogo of Mantes and 2 Eustace II, Count of Boulogne)
All of Æthelred's
sons were named after predecessors of Æthelred on the throne.
Edgar the Peaceful (Old English: Ēadgār) (c. 7
August 943 – 8 July 975), also called the Peaceable, was a king of
England (r. 959–75). Edgar was the younger son of Edmund I of
England. His cognomen, "The Peaceable", was not necessarily a
comment on the deeds of his life, for he was a strong leader, shown
by his seizure of the Northumbrian and Mercian kingdoms from his
older brother, Eadwig, in 958. A conclave of nobles held Edgar to be
king north of the Thames, and Edgar aspired to succeed to the
Ælfthryth (c. 945-1000, was the second or third wife of King
Edgar of England. Ælfthryth was the first king's wife known to have
been crowned and anointed as Queen of the Kingdom of England. Mother
of King Æthelred the Unready, she was a powerful political figure.
She was linked to the murder of her stepson King Edward the Martyr
and appeared as a stereotypical bad queen and evil stepmother in
many medieval histories
Edmund I (922 – 26 May 946), called the Elder,
the Deed-doer, the Just, or the Magnificent, was King of England
from 939 until his death. He was a son of Edward the Elder and
half-brother of Athelstan. Athelstan died on 27 October 939, and
Edmund succeeded him as king.
Saint Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury (d. 944) was the first wife of
Edmund I (r. 939-946), by whom she bore two future kings, Eadwig (r.
955-959) and Edgar (r. 959-975). Like her mother Wynflæd, she had a
close and special if unknown connection with the royal nunnery of
Shaftesbury (Dorset), founded by King Alfred, where she was buried
and soon revered as a saint. According to a pre-Conquest tradition
from Winchester, her feast day is 18 May.
Edward the Elder (c. 874 – 17 July 924) became
king of the English in 899 upon the death of his father, Alfred the
Great. His court was at Winchester, previously the capital of
Wessex. He captured the eastern Midlands and East Anglia from the
Danes in 917 and became ruler of Mercia in 918 upon the death of
Æthelflæd, his sister.
Edward had four
siblings, including Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, and Ælfthryth,
Countess of Flanders.
King Edward had
about fourteen children from three marriages (or according to some
sources, an extramarital relationship and two marriages).
Edward first married
Ecgwynn around 893. Conflicting information is given about her by
different sources, none of which pre-date the Conquest. Their
The future King
Athelstan (c.893 - 939)
A daughter, name
unknown, who married Sihtric Cáech
In 899, Edward
married Ælfflæd, a daughter of Æthelhelm, the ealdorman of
Wiltshire. Their children were
Eadgifu (902 - after
955), who married Charles the Simple
Ælfweard of Wessex
(904 - 924)
Eadgyth (910 - 946),
who married Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Eadhild, who married
Hugh the Great, Duke of Paris
Ælfgifu who married
"a prince near the Alps", sometimes identified with Conrad of
Burgundy or Boleslaus II of Bohemia
Eadflæd, who became
Eadhild, who also
became a nun
Edward married for a
third time, about 919, to Eadgifu, the daughter of Sigehelm, the
ealdorman of Kent. Their children were
Edmund (922 - 946)
Eadred (died 955)
Saint Edburga of
Winchester (died 960)
"Louis, Prince of Aquitaine", whose identity is disputed.
Edward also had a
son, Edwin Ætheling (died 933), but it is unclear who his mother
Eadgifu outlived her
husband and her sons, and was alive during the reign of her
grandson, King Edgar. William of Malmsbury's history claims
that Edward's second wife, Ælfflæd, was also alive after Edward's
death, but this is the only known source for that claim.
Alfred the Great (849 – 26 October 899) was
King of Wessex from 871 to 899.
Alfred is noted for
his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against
the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded
the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West
Saxons to style himself "King of the Anglo-Saxons". Details of his
life are described in a work by the 10th century Welsh scholar and
bishop Asser. Alfred was a learned man who encouraged education and
improved his kingdom's legal system and military structure. He is
regarded as a saint by some Catholics, but has never been officially
canonized.The Anglican Communion venerates him as a Christian hero,
with a feast day of 26 October, and he may often be found depicted
in stained glass in Church of England parish churches.
In 868, Alfred
married Ealhswith, daughter of Ealdorman of the Gaini (who is also
known as Aethelred Mucil), who was from the Gainsborough region of
Lincolnshire. She appears to have been the maternal granddaughter of
a King of Mercia. They had five or six children together, including
Edward the Elder, who succeeded his father as king, Æthelflæd, who
would become Queen of Mercia in her own right, and Ælfthryth who
married Baldwin II the Count of Flanders.
Æthelwulf, also spelled Aethelwulf or Ethelwulf;
was King of Wessex from 839 to 856. He is the only son who can
indisputably be accredited to King Egbert of Wessex. He conquered
the kingdom of Kent on behalf of his father in 825, and was sometime
later made King of Kent as a sub-king to Egbert. He succeeded his
father as King of Wessex on Egbert's death in 839, at which time his
kingdom stretched from the county of Kent in the east to Devon in
the west. At the same time his eldest son or younger brother
Æthelstan became sub-king of Kent as a subordinate ruler.
Æthelwulf was first married to
daughter of Oslac. They had six children, four of whom became kings
of Wessex. Æthelwulf married a second time to 12-year-old
Judith of Flanders, with whom he had no issue.
Egbert was King of Wessex from 802 until 839.
His father was Ealhmund of Kent. In the 780s Egbert was forced into
exile by Offa of Mercia and Beorhtric of Wessex, but on Beorhtric's
death in 802 Egbert returned and took the throne.
Egbert is reported to have married Redburga. This seems consistent
with Egbert's strong ties to the Frankish royal court and his exile
there, but lacks contemporary support. The number of Egbert's
children is uncertain. Æthelwulf, who succeeded Egbert, having
governed as Subregulus of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex, was his
son. Some versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (e.g. the Worcester
and Laud Chronicles) call Æthelstan Egbert's son, but the Parker
Chronicle shows Æthelstan as son of Æthelwulf and hence Egbert's
grandson, and this reconstruction is generally preferred. A number
of writers after the Norman Conquest make Saint Edith (Eadgyth) of
Polesworth a daughter of Egbert, but this is doubtful.
Ealhmund was King of Kent in 784.
The only contemporary
evidence of him is an abstract of a charter dated in that year, in
which Ealhmund granted land to the Abbot of Reculver. By the
following year Offa of Mercia seems to have been ruling directly, as
he issued a charter without any mention of a local king.
There is a general consensus that he is identical to the Ealhmund
found in two pedigrees in the Winchester (Parker) Chronicle,
compiled during the reign of Alfred the Great. The genealogical
preface to this manuscript, as well as the annual entry (covering
years 855–859) describing the death of Æthelwulf, both make king
Egbert of Wessex the son of an Ealhmund, who was son of Eafa,
grandson of Eoppa, and great-grandson of Ingild, the brother of king
Ine of Wessex, and descendant of founder Cerdic, and therefore a
member of the House of Wessex (see House of Wessex family tree). A
further entry has been added in a later hand to the 784 annal,
reporting Ealhmund's reign in Kent.
Finally, in the
Canterbury Bilingual Epitome, originally compiled after the Norman
conquest of England, a later scribe has likewise added to the 784
annal not only Ealhmund's reign in Kent, but his explicit
identification with the father Egbert. Based on this reconstruction,
in which a Wessex scion became king of Kent, his own Kentish name
and that of his son, Egbert, it has been suggested that his mother
derived from the royal house of Kent, a connection dismissed by a
recent critical review. It has likewise been suggested that Ealhmund
might actually have been a Kentish royal scion, and that his
pedigree was forged to give son Egbert the descent from Cerdic
requisite to reigning in Wessex.
All this of course puts in doubt his ancestry but we will continue
on the assumption that the Ancestry Chart of the House of Wessex is
Eafa ( see
Eoppa ( see
Ingild of Wessex was a member of the House of
Wessex. Although a member of the direct male line from Cynric to
Egbert, Coenred was never king due to usurpations by junior branches
of the family. He was born c. 672 and died in 718. Ingild's father
was Coenred, his brother Ine, and his sister Cuthburga. He had one
son, Eoppa, born c. 706.
Cenred of Wessex was a member of the House of
Wessex and a member of the direct male line from Cynric to Egbert.
It is possible that Cenred ruled alongside his son Ine for a period.
There is weak evidence for joint kingships, and stronger evidence of
subkings reigning under a dominant ruler in Wessex, not long before
his time. Ine acknowledges his father's help in his code of laws,
and there is also a surviving land-grant that indicates Cenred was
still reigning in Wessex after Ine's accession.
Ceolwald of Wessex was a member of the House of
Wessex (see House of Wessex family tree). Although a member of the
direct male line from Cynric to Egbert, Ceolwald was never king. His
birth and death dates are unknown.
His father was Cutha
Cathwulf and his child Coenred of Wessex. Nothing more of him is
Cutha Cathwulf was the third son of Cuthwine
and consequently a member of the House of Wessex. Although a member
of the direct male line from Cynric to Egbert, (see House of Wessex
family tree), Cathwulf was never king. He is said to have been born
in c. 592 and his death date is unknown.
His brothers were
Cynebald and Cedda; his son was Ceolwald of Wessex; nothing more of
his life is known.
Cuthwine, born c. 565, was a member of the House of Wessex, son
of Ceawlin of Wessex. After the deposition of his father Ceawlin
from the throne of Wessex in 592 he did not inherit the throne which
passed to his cousin, Ceol. Instead he went into exile for many
decades, remaining a strong leader of the Saxons and passing on the
royal line through his three sons.
He was born in the fifth
year of his father's long reign over the West Saxons. He was a
grandson of Cynric, the son of Cerdic, the first of the Saxons to
come across the sea from Germany; and he and his people were still
relatively out of place in a world dominated by the Britons. Nothing
is known of his early life.
Ceawlin (died ca. 593) was a King of Wessex. He
may have been the son of Cynric of Wessex and the grandson of Cerdic
of Wessex, whom the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents as the leader
of the first group of Saxons to come to the land which later became
Wessex. Ceawlin was active during the last years of the Anglo-Saxon
invasion, with little of southern England remaining in the control
of the native Britons by the time of his death.
Cynric was King of Wessex from 534 to 560.
Everything known about him comes from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
There he is stated to have been the son of Cerdic, and also (in the
regnal list in the preface) to have been the son of Cerdic's son,
Creoda. During his reign it is said that he captured Searobyrig or
Old Sarum, near Salisbury, in 552, and that in 556 he and his son
Ceawlin won a battle against the Britons at Beranburh, now
identified as Barbury Castle. If these dates are accurate, then it
is unlikely that the earlier entries in the chronicle, starting with
his arrival in Britain with his father Cerdic in 495, are correct.
David Dumville has suggested that his true regnal dates are 554-581.
Cerdic (from the early British name represented
by modern Welsh Caradog) was probably the first King of Anglo-Saxon
Wessex from 519 to 534, cited by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the
founder of the kingdom of Wessex and ancestor of all its subsequent
kings. (See House of Wessex family tree).
According to the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Cerdic landed in Hampshire in 495 with his
son Cynric in three keels (ships). He is said to have fought a
British king named Natanleod at Netley Marsh in Hampshire and killed
him thirteen years later (in 508) and to have fought at Cerdicesleag
(Charford, Cerdic's Ford) in 519, after which he became first king
of Wessex. The conquest of the Isle of Wight is also mentioned among
his campaigns, and it was later given to his kinsmen, Stuf and
Wihtgar (who had supposedly arrived with the West Saxons in 514).
Cerdic is said to have died in 534 and was succeeded by his son