Edward the Elder

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Edward the Elder (d.924) King of England (899-924), was elected by the Witan to succeed his father Alfred the Great. The decision was disputed by his cousin, Ethelwald, backed by the Northumbrian Vikings (Danes). Not until Ethalwald died in battle in 905 was Edward’s legitimacy as king secure.

Edward won a decisive victory against the Danes at Tettenhall in Staffordshire in 910, which, with the death of his brother-in-law, Ethelred of Mercia the following year, allowed him, in partnership with his sister Ethelfleda, to consolidate the security of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Ethelfleda’s policy of maintaining a defensive line of “burghs” or fortified towns and settlements was taken on by Edward. These centres, linked to life and business of the areas around them were to feature in the creation of the shire system of local government that is still a feature in England today. These defences allowed him to begin a push back against the enemy. By the time of his death he had reabsorbed parts of the Danelaw and, as a strong, fair and legitimate ruler, had accepted the fealty of Danes living within the boundaries of his realm.

Edward is the first Anglo-Saxon king to be referred to in most modern references as King of “England” or “the English”, instead of the region of his immediate rule. By the time of his death he effectively controlled all England south of the River Humber and had his overlordship acknowledged by the Northumberland nobility as well as by the rulers of Wales and Scotland.

Reference:

“Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” trans Anne Savage

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