| Dunstan was, after that incident, never exactly a favorite of Eadwig's, and it may be fair to say that Eadwig even hated Dunstan, for he apparently exiled him soon after this. Eadwig went on to marry Жlgifu, the girl with whom he was keeping company at the time of Dunstan's intrusion. For her part, "the strumpet" was eventually referred to as among "the most illustrious of women", and Eadwig, in his short reign, was generous in making grants to the church and other religious institutions. He died, possibly of the Wessex family ailment, when he was only 20. |
Edgar, king in Mercia and the Danelaw from 957, succeeded his brother as king of the English on Edwy's death in 959 - a death which probably divvented civil war breaking out between the two brothers. Edgar was a firm and capable ruler whose power was acknowledged by other rulers in Britain, as well as by Welsh and Scottish kings. Edgar's late coronation in 973 at Bath was the first to be recorded in some detail; his queen Aelfthryth was the first consort to be crowned queen of England.
Edgar was the patron of a great monastic revival which owed much to his association with Archbishop Dunstan. New bishoprics were created, Benedictine monasteries were reformed and old monastic sites were re-endowed with royal grants, some of which were of land recovered from the Vikings.
In the 970s and in the absence of Viking attacks, Edgar - a stern judge - issued laws which for the first time dealt with Northumbria (parts of which were in the Danelaw) as well as Wessex and Mercia. Edgar's coinage was uniform throughout the kingdom. A more united kingdom based on royal justice and order was emerging; the Monastic Agreement (c.970) praised Edgar as 'the glorious, by the grace of Christ illustrious king of the English and of the other peoples dwelling within the bounds of the island of Britain'. After his death on 8 July 975, Edgar was buried at Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset.
EDWARD II «THE MARTYR» (975-979)
The sudden death of Edgar at the age of 33 led to a succession dispute between rival factions supporting his sons Edward and Ethelred. The elder son Edward was murdered in 978 at Corfe Castle, Dorset, by his seven-year-old half-brother's supporters.
ETHELRED II «THE UNREADY» (979-1013 AND 1014-1016)
Ethelred, the younger son of Edgar, became king at the age of seven following the murder of his half-brother Edward II in 978 at Corfe Castle, Dorset, by Edward's own supporters.
For the rest of Ethelred's rule (reigned 978-1016), his brother became a posthumous rallying point for political unrest; a hostile Church transformed Edward into a royal martyr. Known as the Un-raed or 'Unready' (meaning 'no counsel', or that he was unwise), Ethelred failed to win or retain the allegiance of many of his subjects. In 1002, he ordered the massacre of all Danes in England to eliminate potential treachery.
Not being an able soldier, Ethelred defended the country against increasingly rapacious Viking raids from the 980s onwards by diplomatic alliance with the duke of Normandy in 991 (he later married the duke's daughter Emma) and by buying off renewed attacks by the Danes with money levied through a tax called the Danegeld. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1006 was dismissive: 'in spite of it all, the Danish army went about as it pleased'. By 1012, 48,000 pounds of silver was being paid in Danegeld to Danes camped in London.
In 1013, Ethelred fled to Normandy when the powerful Viking Sweyn of Denmark dispossessed him. Ethelred returned to rule after Sweyn's death in 1014, but died himself in 1016.
The son of a Danish king, Sweyn 'Forkbeard' began conquering territory in England in 1003, effectively devastating much of southern and midland England. The English nobility became so disillusioned with their existing king, Ethelred 'The Unready', that they acknowledged Sweyn as king in 1013. Sweyn's reign was short, as he died in 1014, but his son Canute the Great soon returned and reclaimed control of England.
EDMUND II, IRONSIDE (1016)
Edmund was King of England for only a few months. After the death of his father, Жthelred II, in April 1016, Edmund led the defense of the city of London against the invading Knut Sveinsson (Canute), and was proclaimed king by the Londoners. Meanwhile, the Witan (Council), meeting at Southampton, chose Canute as King. After a series of inconclusive military engagements, in which Edmund performed brilliantly and earned the nickname "Ironside", he defeated the Danish forces at Oxford, Kent, but was routed by Canute's forces at Ashingdon, Essex. A subsequent peace agreement was made, with Edmund controlling Wessex and Canute controlling Mercia and Northumbria. It was also agreed that whoever survived the other would take control of the whole realm. Unfortunately for Edmund, he died in November, 1016, transferring the Kingship of All England completely to Canute.
CANUTE «THE GREAT» (1016-1035)
Son of Sweyn, Canute became undisputed King of England in 1016, and his rivals (Ethelred's surviving sons and Edmund's son) fled abroad. In 1018, the last Danegeld of 82,500 pounds was paid to Canute. Ruthless but capable, Canute consolidated his position by marrying Ethelred's widow Emma (Canute's first English partner - the Church did not recognise her as his wife - was set aside, later appointed regent of Norway). During his reign, Canute also became King of Denmark and Norway; his inheritance and formidable personality combined to make him overlord of a huge northern empire.
During his inevitable absences in Scandinavia, Canute used powerful English and Danish earls to assist in England's government - English law and methods of government remained unchanged.
A second-generation Christian for reasons of politics as well as faith, Canute went on pilgrimage to Rome in 1027-8. (It was allegedly Christian humility which made him reject his courtiers' flattery by demonstrating that even he could not stop the waves; later hostile chroniclers were to claim it showed madness.)
Canute was buried at Winchester. Given that there was no political or governmental unity within his empire, it failed to survive owing to discord between his sons by two different queens - Harold Harefoot (reigned 1035-40) and Harthacnut (reigned 1040-42) - and the factions led by the semi-independent Earls of Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex.
HAROLD HAREFOOT (1035-1040)
Harold Harefoot was the son of Canute and his first wife, Elfgifu. The brothers began by sharing the kingdom of England after their father's death - Harold Harefoot becoming king in Mercia and Northumbria, and Harthacanute king of Wessex. During the absence of Hardicanute in Denmark, his other kingdom, Harold Harefoot became effective sole ruler. On his death in 1040, the kingdom of England fell to Hardicanute alone.
Harthacnut was the son of Canute and his second wife, Emma, the widow of Ethelred II. His father intended Hardicanute to become king of the English in divference to his elder brother Harold Harefoot, but he nearly lost his chance of this when he became divoccupied with affairs in Denmark, of which he was also king. Instead, Canute's eldest son, Harold Harefoot, became king of England as a whole. In 1039 Hardicanute eventually set sail for England, arriving to find his brother dead and himself king.
EDWARD III, THE CONFESSOR (1042-66 AD)
The penultimate Anglo-Saxon king, Edward was the oldest son of Жthelred II and Emma. He had gone to Normandy in 1013, when his father and mother had fled from England. He stayed there during the reign of Canute and, at his death in 1035, led an abortive attempt to capture the crown for himself. He was recalled, for some reason, to the court of Hardicanute, his half-brother.
Canute had placed the local control of the shires into the hands of several powerful earls: Leofric of Mercia (Lady Godiva's husband), Siward of Northumbria and Godwin of Wessex, the most formidable of all. Through Godwin's influence, Edward took the throne at the untimely death of Hardicanute in 1042. In 1045, he married Godwin's only daughter, Edith.
Resulting from the connections made during Edward's years in Normandy, he surrounded himself with his Norman favorites and was unduly influenced by them. This Norman "affinity" produced great displeasure among the Saxon nobles. The anti-Norman faction was led by (who else?) Godwin of Wessex and his son, Harold Godwinsson, took every available opportunity to undermine the kings favorites. Edward sought to revenge himself on Godwin by insulting his own wife and Godwin's daughter, Edith, and confining her to the monastery of Wherwell. Disputes also arose over the issue of royal patronage and Edward's inclination to reward his Norman friends.
A Norman, Robert Champart, who had been Bishop of London, was made Archbishop of Canterbury by Edward in 1051, a promotion that displeased Godwin immensely. The Godwins were banished from the kingdom after staging an unsuccessful rebellion against the king but returned, landing an invasionary force in the south of England in 1052. They received great popular support, and in the face of this, the king was forced to restore the Godwins to favor in 1053.
Edward's greatest achievement was the construction of a new cathedral, where virtually all English monarchs from William the Conqueror onward would be crowned. It was determined that the minster should not be built in London, and so a place was found to the west of the city (hence "Westminster"). The new church was consecrated at Christmas, 1065, but Edward could not attend due to illness.
On his deathbed, Edward named Harold as his successor, instead of the legitimate heir, his grandson, Edgar the Жtheling. The question of succession had been an issue for some years and remained unsettled at Edward's death in January, 1066. It was neatly resolved, however, by William the Conqueror, just nine months later.
There is some question as to what kind of person Edward was. After his death, he was the object of a religious cult and was canonized in 1161, but that could be viewed as a strictly political move. Some say, probably correctly, that he was a weak, but violent man and that his reputation for saintliness was overstated, possibly a sham perpetrated by the monks of Westminster in the twelfth century. Others seem to think that he was deeply religious man and a patient and peaceable ruler.
HAROLD II (1066)
On Edward's death, the King's Council (the Witenagemot) confirmed Edward's brother-in-law Harold, Earl of Wessex, as King. With no royal blood, and fearing rival claims from William Duke of Normandy and the King of Norway, Harold had himself crowned in Westminster Abbey on 6 January 1066, the day after Edward's death. During his brief reign, Harold showed he was an outstanding commander.
In September, Harald Hardrada of Norway (aided by Harold's alienated brother Tostig, Earl of Northumbria) invaded England and was defeated by Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge near York. Hardrada's army had invaded using over 300 ships; so many were killed that only 25 ships were needed to transport the survivors home.
Meanwhile, William, Duke of Normandy (who claimed that Harold had acknowledged him in 1064 as Edward's successor) had landed in Sussex. Harold rushed south and, on 14 October 1066, his army of some 7,000 infantry was defeated on the field of Senlac near Hastings. Harold was hit in the eye by an arrow and cut down by Norman swords.
An abbey was later built, in 1070, to fulfil a vow made by William I, and its high altar was placed on the spot where Harold fell. The ruins of Battle Abbey still remain with a stone slab marking where Harold died.
The Normans came to govern as a result of one of the most famous battles in English history, the Battle of Hastings in 1066. From 1066 to 1154 four kings ruled. The Domesday Book, that great source of English landholding, was published, the forests were extended, the Exchequer was founded and a start was made on the Tower of London. In religious affairs, the Gregorian reform movement gathered pace and forced concessions, while the machinery of government developed to support the country while Henry was fighting abroad. Meanwhile, the social landscape was altered, as the Norman aristocracy came to prominence. Many of the nobles struggled to keep a hold on both Normandy and England, as divided rule meant the threat of conflict.
This was the case when William the Conqueror died. His eldest son, Robert, became Duke of Normandy, while the next youngest, William, became king of England. Their younger brother Henry would become king on William II's death. The uneasy divide continued until Henry captured and imprisoned his elder brother.
The question of the succession continued to weigh heavily over the remainder of the period. Henry's son died, and his nominated heir Matilda was denied the throne by her cousin, Henry's nephew, Stephen. There then followed a period of civil war. Matilda married Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou, who took control of Normandy. The duchy was therefore separated from England once again.
A compromise was eventually reached whereby the son of Matilda and Geoffrey would be heir to the English crown, while Stephen's son would inherit his baronial lands. All this meant that in 1154 Henry II would ascend to the throne as the first undisputed King in over 100 years - proof of the dynastic uncertainty of the Norman period.
THE CONTINENTAL DYNASTIES
1066 - 1216
King of Denmark
Gunhilda of = SWEYN FORKBEARD Styrbjorn = Thyra
Poland Richard I, Duke of Sweden
Elgiva of (1) = CANUTE = (2) Emma, widow of Judith = Richard II,
Northampton (1016–1035) ATHELRED II daughter of Duke of Gytha = Godwin,
Conan I Normandy Earl of
HAREFOOT (1040–1042) Robert I = Herlиve
(1035–1040) Duke of
HAROLD II EDWARD THE=Eadgyth