To secure his hard won boundaries Alfred founded a permanent army and an embryonic Royal Navy. To secure his place in history, he began the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. Edward retook southeast England and the Midlands from the Danes. Following the death of his sister Aethelflaed of Mercia , Edward unites the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. The following year, Edward is killed in a battle against the Welsh near Chester. His body is returned to Winchester for burial. In what is said to be one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on British soil, Athelstan defeated a combined army of Scots, Celts, Danes and Vikings, claiming the title of King of all Britain.
The battle saw for the first time individual Anglo-Saxon kingdoms being brought together to create a single and unified England. Athelstan is buried in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.
English Monarchs With The Longest Reign
EDMUND — Succeeded his half-bother Athelastan as king at the tender age of 18, having already fought alongside him at the Batlle of Brunanburh two years earlier. He re-established Anglo-Saxon control over northern England, which had fallen back under Scandinavian rule following the death of Athelstan. Aged just 25, and whilst celebrating the feast of Augustine, Edmund was stabbed by a robber in his royal hall at Pucklechurch near Bath. His two sons, Eadwig and Edgar, were perhaps considered too young to become kings.
He followed in the family tradition of defeating Norsemen, expelling the last Scandinavian King of York, Eric Bloodaxe, in A deeply religious man, Eadred suffered a serious stomach ailment that would eventually prove fatal. Eadred died in his early 30s, unmarried and without an heir, at Frome in Somerset. He is buried in Winchester.
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Perhaps unimpressed by the interruption, Eadwig had Dunstan exiled to France. Eadwig died in Gloucester when he was just 20, the circumstances of his death are not recorded. Following his carefully planned by Dunstan coronation in Bath in , Edgar marched his army to Chester, to be met by six kings of Britain.
The kings, including the King of Scots, King of Strathclyde and various princes of Wales , are said to have signalled their allegiance to Edgar by rowing him in his state barge across the River Dee. Although supported by Archbishop Dunstan, his claim to the throne was contested by supporters of his much younger half-brother Aethelred. The resulting dispute between rival factions within the church and nobility almost led to civil war in England. He died just 5 weeks later.
Following the death of his father, he was chosen king by the good folk of London. Following his defeat at the Battle of Assandun, Aethelred made a pact with Canute to divide the kingdom between them. Edmund died later that year, probably assassinated. The son of Sweyn Forkbeard, he ruled well and gained favour with his English subjects by sending most of his army back to Denmark.
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Perhaps inspired by his pilgrimage to Rome in , legend has it that he wanted to demonstrate to his subjects that as a king he was not a god, he ordered the tide not to come in, knowing this would fail. Harold was the illegitimate son of Canute, he claimed the English crown on the death of his father whilst his half-brother Harthacanute, the rightful heir, was in Denmark fighting to protect his Danish kingdom. Harold died three years into his reign, just weeks before Harthacanute was due to invade England with an army of Danes.
He was buried in Westminster Abbey before Harthacanute had his body dug up, beheaded, and thrown into the Thames. His bits were later gathered and re-buried at St. Clement Danes in London. Harthacanute died at a wedding whilst toasting the health of the bride; he was aged just 24 and was the last Danish king to rule England. A deeply pious and religious man, he presided over the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey , leaving much of the running of the country to Earl Godwin and his son Harold. Edward died childless, eight days after the building work on Westminster Abbey had finished.
With no natural successor, England was faced with a power struggle for control of the throne.
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The election result failed to meet with the approval of one William, Duke of Normandy, who claimed that his relative Edward had promised the throne to him several years earlier. Harold defeated an invading Norwegian army at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, then marched south to confront William of Normandy who had landed his forces in Sussex. William came to England from Normandy, claiming that his second cousin Edward the Confessor had promised him the throne, and defeated Harold II at the Battle of Hastings on 14th October In the Domesday Survey was begun and all of England was recorded, so William knew exactly what his new kingdom contained and how much tax he could raise in order to fund his armies.
William died at Rouen after a fall from his horse whilst besieging the French city of Nantes. He is buried at Caen. He never married and was killed in the New Forest by a stray arrow whilst out hunting, maybe accidentally, or possibly shot deliberately on the instructions of his younger brother Henry.
Walter Tyrrell, one of the hunting party, was blamed for the deed. Well educated, he founded a zoo at Woodstock in Oxfordshire to study animals. His two sons were drowned in the White Ship so his daughter Matilda was made his successor. She was married to Geoffrey Plantagenet. When Henry died of food poisoning, the Council considered a woman unfit to rule and so offered the throne to Stephen, a grandson of William I.
A decade of civil war known as The Anarchy ensued when Matilda invaded from Anjou in A brilliant soldier, he extended his French lands until he ruled most of France. He laid the foundation of the English Jury System and raised new taxes scutage from the landholders to pay for a militia force. His sons turned against him, even his favourite John. By the age of 16, he was leading his own army putting down rebellions in France. Although crowned King of England, Richard spent all but 6 months of his reign abroad, preferring to use the taxes from his kingdom to fund his various armies and military ventures.
He was the leading Christian commander during the Third Crusade. On his way back from Palestine, Richard was captured and held for ransom. The amount paid for his safe return almost bankrupt the country. Richard died from an arrow-wound, far from the kingdom that he so rarely visited. He had no children. Short and fat, he was jealous of his dashing brother Richard I whom he succeeded.
He was cruel, self-indulgent, selfish and avaricious, and the raising of punitive taxes united all the elements of society, clerical and lay, against him. The Pope excommunicated him. On 15th June at Runnymede the barons compelled John to sign Magna Carta , the Great Charter, which reinstated the rights of all his subjects.
John died — from dysentery — a fugitive from all his enemies. Brought up by priests he became devoted to church, art and learning. Henry was the greatest of all patrons of medieval architecture and ordered the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey in the Gothic style. He formed the Model Parliament in , bringing the knights, clergy and nobility, as well as the Lords and Commons together for the first time. Aiming at a united Britain, he defeated the Welsh chieftains and created his eldest son Prince of Wales.
When his first wife Eleanor died, he escorted her body from Grantham in Lincolnshire to Westminster, setting up Eleanor Crosses at every resting place. He died on the way to fight Robert Bruce. He was beaten by the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn in Edward was deposed and held captive in Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. His wife joined her lover Mortimer in deposing him: by their orders he was murdered in Berkley Castle — as legend has it, by having a red-hot poker thrust up his anus! The two great victories at Crecy and Poitiers made Edward and his son, the Black Prince, the most renowned warriors in Europe, however the war was very expensive.
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This is a masterly study of a complex reign, with its triumphs in the French wars, and with the eventual tragedy of the final years marred by corruption and failing finances. It is as colourful and captivating one imagines as the tapestries with which Edward adorned his apartments; but it is as solidly built as Windsor Castle. Ormrod's vivid prose captures wonderfully the personal quality of medieval politics. At the centre is the development, and eventual decline, of the royal personality; chivalric society and its influence is given its due place, as is the king's leadership of his country in peace and war.
At long last we have a book which does full justice to its subject, and which be read with profit by both scholar and general reader alike. Here we have the long-awaited authoritative biography of the king for our generation. Ormrod gets as close to understanding Edward and his reign as anyone is likely to get. Reeves, Choice, "Ormrod has mastered the complex interplay of circumstance, motive, and personality to provide an original and important account not only of a King but of a nation at a critical stage of its history.
Edward III is a remarkable achievement and deserves a wide readership, both among professional historians and the general public. Waugh, Times Literary Supplement, 'W. Mark Ormrod sets a new and dazzling standard in the writing of biographies of medieval rulers. He brings Edward III vividly to life and a gripping and taut series of analyses focus on the multiple problems facing the English monarchy, Edward's attempts to impose a new agenda, and the lasting effects this had on the character of English kingship.
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