Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dead King Watch: Edmund Ironside

Edmund Ironside was pleasantly surprised on being told he had made it onto Dead King Watch.

After ruling for a mere seven months, Edmund Ironside died on November 30 1016, which makes this the 990th anniversary of his death.

Born in 989, Edmund was the second son of King Ethelred the Unready , but when his elder brother Ethelstan died in 1014 Edmund was heir. A power-struggle began between Edmund and his father, but this was put on hold when Canute attacked England with his Viking forces. When Ethelred II, who had earlier been stricken ill, died suddenly on April 23, 1016 Edmund succeeded to the throne, though with little support from the Southern nobility who preferred Canute.

When Edmund forcefully recovered Wessex from Canute’s previous invasion in 1015, Canute responded by laying siege to London, yet Edmund’s defence was successful earning him the name 'Ironside'. Despite the victory, conflict continued until Edmund was defeated on October 18 by Canute at the battle of Ashingdon in Essex. After the battle the two kings negotiated a peace in which Edmund kept Wessex while Canute held the lands north of the River Thames. In addition, they agreed that if one of them should perish, territories belonging to the deceased would be ceded to the living. Sadly for Edmund, he died first and his territories were ceded to Canute who then became King of England.



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