Eadweard (Edward the Martyr)


b. c. 963
d. 18 Mar 978, Corfe Castle, Dorset [1]

Title: Rex (King) (see note on royal styles)
Term: 975 - 18 Mar 978
Chronology: after 8 Jul 975, acceded after the death of his father, Eadgar
  late summer 975, consecrated [?], Kingston-upon-Thames [?] (see note on consecration)
  18 Mar 978, died
Names/titles: In modern English spelled as: Edward; byname: the Martyr; Saint Edward (canonized in 1001?)

Eadweard, later known as the Martyr, was the son of King Eadgar and either Wulfthryth or Æthelflæd. The sudden death of Eadgar (975) caused a succession dispute. The rival factions were supporting Eadweard and his younger half-brother, Æthelred, Eadgar's son by Ælfthryth. The dispute ended in favor of Eadweard — "two archbishops carried the election, and crowned him king" [2]. The reign of Eadgar was marked by the "anti-monastic reaction". Ealdorman Ælfhere of Mercia and many others launched attacks on monasteries. Some of the lands given to monasteries in Eadgar's reign were seized by the nobles. Eadweard was assassinated while visiting Æthelred in 978 at Corfe Castle, Dorset. A later chronicle (Byrhtferth's "Vita Oswaldi") attributed his murder to certain zealous thegns of Æthelred and his mother, Ælfthryth. Biography sources: [3][4][5][6][7]

[1] There has been some confusion on the dates of Eadweard's murder and Æthelred's accession. MSS 'A' and 'C' of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle place the murder in 978, MSS 'D', 'E', 'F' under 979. MS 'C' adds that the killing took place at Corfe in the evening of March 18. Simon Keynes asserts that Eadweard died in 978 and Æthelred was consecrated in 979 [6, p. 233, n. 7].
[2] "Historia Rames[iensis]," 73 (quoted in the Dictionary of National Biography).
[3] Handbook of British Chronology (1986)
[4] "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," ed. and trans. by G.N. Garmonsway (Everyman Press, London, 1953, reissued 1972, 1994).
[5] "The Blackwell Encyclopædia of Anglo-Saxon England", ed. by Michael Lapidge (Oxford, Blackwell, 1999).
[6] "The Diplomas of Æthelred 'the Unready' 978-1016: A Study in Their Use as Historical Evidence", by Simon Keynes (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1980).
  Image: silver penny of Eadweard the Martyr (obverse legend: +EAD[?]ARD REX ANGL`).
Last updated on: 14 Mar 2010 03:56:08