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Edmund I the Magnificent of England
By Rider, 3 August 2007; Revised
Category: Medieval Europe: Historical Figures
Edmund was born in 921. He was the brother (or half-brother, to be exact) of Aethelstan, the later King of England. His father was Edward the Elder. Edmund served Aethelstan faithfully and upon his death in 939, was the successor to the throne. He was crowned on the 27th of October, 939. His nicknames include the Magnificent, the Just, the Deed-Doer and the Elder.
From Edmund’s earlier life (before becoming a king), we know that he had commanded part of the English army at Burnanburgh (under Aethelstan). Edmund was married twice – Aelfgifu (up to 944) with whom he had two sons (Edwy and Edgar, later kings of England) and Aethelflaed of Damerham.
Edmund was a very harsh king, although that must also have gained him the reputation of just. Also, the first Hundred (district) court originates from his time.
During the first year after he became king, he faced serious losses to different enemies. The first things he lost were most of Northumbria and parts of Mercia, north of the Watling Street. The enemy was commanded by the King of Dublin, Olaf Guthfrithson. However, Edmund managed to settle a peace through the bishops of York and Canterbury. This came in handy for soon after, in 942, Olaf Guthfrithson died and Edmund went offensive.
After the death of Olaf of Dublin, Edmund managed to take back the Midlands (in 942) and also Northumbria (by 944). He also conquered Strathclyde, but gave it to Malcolm I of Scotland for promised military aid. He did not despise any means to defeat an opponent.
On the evening of the 26th of May, 946, Edmund was in Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire. There he was stabbed by a previously exiled thief, Leofa. It is told, however, that Edmund managed to kill the thief too.