Æthelinghood, Succession and Kingship in Late Anglo-Saxon England, With Specific Reference to Edmund II Ironside

  • David McDermott

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This Thesis is an examination of the career and kingship of Edmund II Ironside. In making Edmund the focus, it is possible to re-examine æthelinghood, succession and kingship, from an alternative perspective. The primary sources consulted are chronicles, histories, diplomas and legislation. Central to the investigation of Edmund's life and career is the degree to which the pre- and post - conquest primary sources have been scrutinised in order to identify that which is most factual, from those which have been borrowed from other writers, instances of the author's personal opinion, and folkloric elements. It is argued that previous studies of Edmund have been advanced by investigating the households of late Anglo-Saxon æthelings and establishing their similarities to the entourages of kings. Previous examinations of the legal sources have also been extended to partially recreate Edmund's network of associates. It is also suggested that members of Edmund's retinue may have transferred their allegiance to Cnut. The re-investigation of Edmund's marriage and appropriation of property indicates that Edmund's actions were actually criminal. An appreciation of the mechanics of power in the early middle ages, and thereby an estimation of the limitations under which Edmund operated is demonstrated by similarities between his marriage, rebellion and alliance with Uhtred, to comparable actions committed by young aristocrats in pre- and post- conquest England, Carolingian France and Ottonian Germany. It is further argued that Edmund Ironside prevented a second Danish conquest in his lifetime, establishing himself as warrior-king. A biographical treatment of Edmund II Ironside provides new perspectives on the seminal issues and key personalities of late Anglo-Saxon England.
Date of Award16 Nov 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorRyan Lavelle (Supervisor) & Barbara Yorke (Supervisor)

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