Thursday, August 25, 2016


Lesson #5 in Kings and Queens of England and Scotland.  The stories are becoming longer as we travel through the years so it will probably only be one king to a page from now on.

EDGAR 959-975)  (Eadgar)

Born:  ? 943

Succeeded as King of the English in 959 at the age of about 16 having already been proclaimed King of Mercia in 957.

Younger brother of predecessor Edwy and younger son of King Edmund I.

Married:  1.  Ethelflaed;   2.  Wulfryth;  3.  Elfthryth.

Children:  of Ethelflaed:  EDWARD; of Wulfryth: Eadgyth of Elfthryth: (Elfrida), Eadmund, ETHELRED.

Died:  8 July 975 aged about 32, having reigned for 16 years.   Buried at Glastonbury.

Young Edgar had been in rebellion against his brother and had taken over Mercia at the age of 14, two years before he officially occupied the English throne.  This was an age when some young men could work off their frustration in satisfyingly positive ways.  Edgar was also said to have abducted his second wife from a nunnery and only to have married her after she had served a term as his mistress.  Making some recompense for this affront to the Church, he gave his royal backing to a notable monastic revival in England- he himself founded forty religious houses - which was important for its cultural overtones.  Scholarship and architecture owed much to the new institutions for their blossoming at this period.

Edgar was fortunate in having the energetic advice of no less than three English saints who were living at the time.  They were Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Oswald, Archbishop of York, and Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester who were all later canonised - a fact which in itself pays a remarkable tribute to the prestige of Edgar's reign.  Edgar was the last of the strong line of Saxon kings fathered by Alfred, who broadened Alfred's laws and propagated Alfred's culture.

Territorially he extended the sphere of influence of the English throne, hastened the integration of the Danes with the English and stage-managed the publicised recognition of English majesty.  The last was notably achieved at a deliberately delayed coronation service at Bath at Whitsuntide in 973, 14 years after Edgar's accession, where the king was solemnly anointed and crowned to receive the blessing of the future Saints.  In the same year he received the homage of seven Welsh and Scottish kings, in the picturesque public-relations function (or invented non-event) when they were said to have rowed him on the river Dee at Exeter.

St Ethwold and St Dunstan were by this time proclaiming Edgar as "King of the English and of the other people living within Britain".  The combination of the activities of an able young king with three strong-minded prelates who wanted to exalt the office of king for what they saw as the advantage of the Church was very powerful.  It contributed towards the emasculation of a vigorous and meddling aristocracy and did much (through ecclesiastical propaganda) to advance the philosophy of the divine right of approved kings, who were the channel of all God's blessings except the Holy Mass.  It was an English doctrine which was to bear long-term rather than immediate fruit - but it was in writing which could be quoted later.

It never fails to amaze me how young some of these men were when they became king and although many died at quite a young age, they managed to do so much to further the cause of England.


  1. Hari OM further the cause of England... important to remember that the Saxons (and the Angles with them) were invaders and conquerors the Brythonic/Celtic tribes. The name 'England' comes from their word Angle-cynn, which simply means the tribe of the Angles. The word 'king' has evolved from 'cynning', leader of the tribe. Like the Romans before them, the Anglo-Saxons burned and pillaged and then became magnanimous.

    This review of history is invigorating Mimsie! Especially as it demonstrates clearly how mankind really has not changed its outlook to 'territory' and ownership. I have found two pages I feel you too will find of great interest, rel="nofollow">here and rel="nofollow">here. The latter is a wonderful summary from a university professor, and the former is a comprehensive presentation. Gets the little grey cells working!!! YAM xx

    1. .hmmmmmmmmm have no idea why the links are showing some of the html - but they are working so that's all that matters! Yxx

    2. Yes I am aware of all the different invasions that took place over the centuries but here I am just concentrating on royalty as shown in the reference book I have.
      Although there are many of us quite satisfied with the little we have there will always be those obsessed by greed and the need for possessions and change.

  2. This is all very interesting. Could I copy these posts to read over again? I'm not sure I can retain much in just one or two read throughs - too many odd names and numbers to try to remember.

    Women didn't last long in those days, did they? 3 wives before he died - I suppose lots of birthing deaths.

    1. I am sure you are welcome to copy these posts although if your interest is that great you could possibly purchase a book similar to the one I am quoting from. Great to have as a reference book.
      I feel you are probably right about childbirth taking the lives of women back in the dark ages.

  3. .. hello Mimsie.. xxxxx I am enjoying your series on the English Kings... they were so young and achieved so much..
    I liked your previous Quote and Mirth cartoon...
    ...have a lovey day ... Barb xxxxx

    1. Thanks for all your comments Barb and glad you are getting enjoyment out of it all. xx

  4. Seems young Edgar was quite industrious, not at all afraid of hard work.

    1. I felt quite a lot of admiration for this young fellow.