Monday, October 28, 2013

Eadward the Martyr 975—979

Eadgar died in 975, leaving two boys, Eadward and Æthelred. On his death a quarrel broke out amongst the ealdormen, some declaring for the succession of Eadward and others for the succession of Æthelred.

The political quarrel was complicated by an ecclesiastical quarrel. The supporters of Eadward were the friends of the secular clergy; the supporters of Æthelred were the friends of the monks. Dunstan, with his usual moderation, gave his voice for the eldest son, and Eadward was chosen king and crowned. Not only had he a strong party opposed to him, but he had a dissatisfied step-mother in Ælfthryth, the mother of Æthelred, whilst his own mother, who had probably been married to Eadgar without full marriage rites, had been long since dead.

After reigning for four years Eadward was murdered near Corfe by some of the opposite party, and, as was commonly supposed, by his step-mother's directions.