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Edmund "Ironside" King of England
Ealdgyth Morcarson Queen of England
(Abt 985-)
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(Abt 1001-1050)
Edward Ætheling of Wessex "the Outlaw"
(Abt 1016-1057)
Eadgyth of Hungary

Edgar "Ætheling" of England
(Abt 1048-1110)


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Edgar "Ætheling" King of England

  • Born: Abt 1048, Hungary
  • Died: 1110-1126, England about age 62

bullet   Another name for Edgar was Edgar "the Outlaw" King of England.

bullet  Information about this person:

• Background Information. 595
Edgar Ætheling, or Eadgar the Ætheling, king-elect, son of Eadward the Exile and Agatha, a kinswoman of Gisla, queen of Hungary and the Emperor Henry II, was probably born in Hungary before 1057. In that year his father, the surviving son of Edmund Ironside came to England in accordance with an invitation sent by Edward the Confessor, who designed to make him his heir, but he died shortly afther his arrival without having seen the king. The story that the Confessor recommends the Ætheling to the nobles as his successor, and there was a party who upheld his right at the Confessor's death is plainly erroneous [Gesta Regum, iii. 238]. It has been asserted that on this occasion, Eadgar had 'no constitutional claim upon the votes of the witan bey9ond any other male person in the realm' [Norman Conquest, iii, 7], although the assertion appears open to question, for constitutional usage certainly restricted the choice of the witan to the members of the kingly house. When news of the defeat and death of Harold reached London in Oct 1066, the two archbishops, the northern earls, Eadwin and Morkere, and other great men, together with the citizens and seamen of the city, chose Eadgar, who was then a youth, as king, and pledged themselves to go out to battle with him [Flor. Wig. I. 22I; William of Poitiers, p. 141]. Some opposition to his election is said to have been offered by the bishops [Gesta Regum, iii. 247], among whom must no doubt be reckoned William, the Norman bishop of London. His election was a disappointment to the brothers Eadwine and Morkere, who had tried to persuade the Londoners to choose one or other of themselves, although, when they found that this was hopeless, they agreed in the general choice. Nevertheless, they withdrew their forces from the city and marched back to Northumberland. Their desertion left Eadgar helpless.

The Conqueror reduced and wasted the country to the south and west of the city, and in Dec, Eadgar, who does not appear to have been crowned with Ealdred, archbishop of York, and other bishops and all the chief men of London, met him at Berhampstead and made submission to William [A.-S. Chron. Worcester. William of Poitiers, p. 141]. William recived the Ætheling graciously, gave him the kiss of peace, and it is said gave him a large grant of land and treated him as an intimate friend, both on account of his relationship to the Confessor and make some amends to him for the dignity he had lost [Orderic, p. 504, William of Poitiers, p. 148]. The next year, William took Edgar with him to Normandy along with other noble Englishmen whom he thought it was scarely safte to leave behind him in England [ib. p. 150], and Eadgar must have returned with him the following December.

In the summer of 1068, Eadgar left the court and went northwards, apparently intending to take part in the rising of Eadwine and Morkere. [The chronological order of the events of this year is confused ; it is fully discussed in Norman Conquest, iv. 768, sqq.] The earls submitted to the king at Warwick, and William marched on towards York. Then, the Ætheling, his mother, and his two sisters, Christina and Margaret, with Earl Gospatric, Mæleswegen, and the most daring noble men of Northumberland, not daring to meet his wrath, and fearing lest they should be imprisoned as others were, took ship and escaped to Scotland, where they were hospitably received by Malcolm. They spent the winter there [A.-S. Chron. 1067. Worcester: Flor. Wig. Ii. 2 ; Orderic, p. 511].

Early in 1069, the North broke out into revolt, and Eadgar, accompanied by the nobles who shared his exile, left Scotland, and was received at York, and there all the Northumbrians gathered around him. The rebels besieged the Norman castle, and the king was forced to march to its relief; he crushed the revolt, and the Ætheling again took shelter in Scotland. When he heard that the Danish fleet had entered the Humber in Sep of the same year, he and the other English exiles joined it with the fleet that had gathered. He narrowly escaped falling into the hands of the enemy, for while the Danish ships were in the Humber, he sailed with a single ship, manned by his own followers, on an independent plundering expedition. The king's garrison from Lincoln fell upon his company, took them all save him and two others, and broke up his ship [Orderic, p. 514]. He and his party seem to have remained with the Danish fleet during the winter as long as it stayed in Humber [Norman Conquest, iv. 505], and when it sailed away, his mother, his sisters, and the Northumbrian lords set sail for Scotland, and put in at Wearmouth, where they found Malcolm, who was ravaging the district, and who gave them a hearty welcome, promising them a safe shelter as long as they chose to remain with him [Symeon].

On returning with Malcolm to Scotland, Malcolm sought to make Eadgar's sister Margaret his wife. Eadgar and all his men long refused their consent, although they at last yielded, 'because they were come into his power' [A.-S. Chron. Worcester, 1067], and no doubt chose Flanders as his place of refuge on account of the hostility between Count Robert and William. In the summer of that year, he returned to Scotland to visit Malcom and his sister, the queen. While he was with them. Philip of France wrote to him, bidding him to come to him and offering to him the castle of Montreuil. The castle of Montreuil, which from its situation would have enabled him to give constant annoyance to their common enemy, William, and to act in conjunction with the Count of Flanders. When Eadgar set sail, the king and queen gave him and his men many rich gifts, vessels of gold and silver and cloaks of ermine and other skins. They were apparently shipwrecked on the coast of England, their ships and almost all their treasures lost, and some of them fell into the hand of the Normans.

Eadgar and the rest returned to Scotland, 'some ruefully going on foot, and some wretchedly riding [A.-S. Chron. Worcester, 1074]. Malcolm advised him to send over to William, who was then in Normandy, and make his peace. This he accordingly did, and the king and queen, having again given him many treasures, sent him from their kingdom with honor. He was met at Durham by the sheriff of York, who escorted him to Normandy. William received him graciously and gave him some means of sustenance. It was probably about this time that he received two small estates, which he held in Hertfordshire at the time of the Domesday Survey [Norman Conquest, iv. 571, 745; Domesday, 142a]. Eadgar also had an allowance of a pound of silver a day. It is said that at William's court, he was held to be indolent and childish, and that he foolish enough to give up his pension to the king in exchange for a single horse [Gesta Regum, iii. 251]. At last, in 1086, finding that he was slighted by the king, he obtained leave to raise a force of two hundred knights, and with them he went to serve with the Normans in Apulia [Flor. Wig.].

On Eadgar's return from Apulia, he resided in Normandy, where Duke Robert gave him lands and treated him as a friend. In 1091, William Rufus, who was then reigning in England, compelled the duke to take away Eadgar's land and to send him out of the duchy [ib.]. Eadgar again took shelter in Scotland, and accompanied Malcolm when he invaded Northumberland the same year. William and Malcolm met on the shores of the Firth of Forth, and Eadgar on the side of the Scottish king, and Duke Robert on the side of his brother, arranged a peace between them [A.-S. Chron.]. Eadgar was reconciled with William, and returned to Normandy with the duke on 23 Dec. He was in England in the spring of 1093, and was sent by the king to invite Malcolm to a conference at Gloucester. When Malcolm was slain on 13 Nov, Donald Band seized his kingdom, and his children were forced to flee to England. It is said that Malcolm's children were sheltered by their uncle, Eadgar [Fordun,v.21].

In 1097m Eadgar obtained the king's leave to make an expedition into Scotland for the purpose of setting his nephew and namesake on the throne. He set out at Michaelmas, defeated Donald in a hard fought battle. He then returned to England, and in 1099, went to the Crusade. On his return from the crusades, he received many gifts from the Greek and German emperors, who would willingly have kept him with them, but he loved his own land too weel to live away from it [Gesta Regum, iii.251]. He returned to England in the reign of Henry I, and during the last war between Henry and his brother Robert, Eadgar helped his old friend the duke. Eadgar was taken prisoner at the battle of Tinchebrai on 28 Sep 1106, but was later released by Henry. Eadgar spent the remainer of his days in obscurity in the country, perhaps on his Herfordshire property. It is not known when he died, but it was probably not long before 1120.

[Sources cited by the author: Anglo-Saxon chron. (Rolls Ser.); Florence of Worcester (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Will. Of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Symeon of Durham (Rolls Ser.); William of Poitiers, Giles; Orderic, Duchesne; Fordun's Scotichronicon, Hearne; Freeman's Norman Conquest, iii., iv., v. passim, and Reign of William Rufus contain all that is known about Eadgar]

~ Rev. William Hunt, The National Dictionary of Biography, Vol. XVI, 1888, pp. 372-373

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