Saturday, December 14, 2013

Æthelred Restored. 1014—1016

The Martyrdom of St. Edmund
In 1014 Svend died suddenly as he was riding at the head of his troops to the attack of the monastery of Bury St. Edmunds. A legend soon arose as to the manner of his death. St. Edmund himself, the East Anglian king Eadmund who had once been martyred by Danes, now appeared, it was said, to protect the monastery founded in his honour. 'Help, fellow soldiers!' cried Svend, as he caught sight of the saint. 'St. Edmund is coming to slay me.' St. Edmund, we are told, ran his spear through the body of the aggressor, and Svend died that night in torments. His Danish warriors chose his son Cnut king of England. The English Witenagemot sent for Æthelred to return. At last, in 1016, Æthelred died before he had conquered Cnut or Cnut conquered him.

Æthelred's eldest son—not the son of Emma—Eadmund Ironside, succeeded him. He did all that could be done to restore the English kingship by his vigour. In a single year he fought six battles; but the treachery of the ealdormen was not at an end, and at Assandun (? Ashington), in Essex, he was completely overthrown. He and Cnut agreed to divide the kingdom, but before the end of the year the heroic Eadmund died, and Cnut the Dane became king of England without a rival.

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