Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eadmund (940-946) and Eadred (946-955)

Æthelstan died in 940. He was succeeded by his young brother, Eadmund, who had fought bravely at Brunanburh.

Eadmund had to meet a general rising of the Danes of Mercia as well as of those of the north. After he had suppressed the rising he showed himself to be a great statesman as well as a great warrior. The relations between the king of the English and the king of the Scots had for some time been very uncertain. Little is definitely known about them but it looks as if they joined the English whenever they were afraid of the Danes, and joined the Danes whenever they were afraid of the English. Eadmund took an opportunity of making it to be the interest of the Scottish king permanently to join the English.

The southern part of the kingdom of Strathclyde had for some time been under the English kings. In 945 Eadmund overran the remainder, but gave it to Malcolm on condition that he should be his fellow-worker by sea and land. The king of Scots thus entered into a position of dependent alliance towards Eadmund. A great step was thus taken in the direction in which the inhabitants of Britain afterwards walked. The dominant powers in the island were to be English and Scots, not English and Danes. Eadmund thought it worth while to conciliate the Scottish Celts rather than to endeavour to conquer them.

The result of Eadmund's statesmanship was soon made manifest. He himself did not live to gather its fruits. In 946 an outlaw who had taken his seat at a feast in his hall slew him as he was attempting to drag him out by the hair. The next king, Eadred, the last of Eadward's sons, though sickly, had all the spirit of his race. He had another sharp struggle with the Danes, but in 954 he made himself their master. North-humberland was now thoroughly amalgamated with the English kingdom, and was to be governed by an Englishman, Oswulf, with the title of Earl, an old Danish title equivalent to the English Ealdorman, having nothing to do, except philologically, with the old English word Eorl.

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