Edgar I the Peaceful
( ; c. 7 August 943 – 8 July
975), also called the Peaceable, was a king of England (r.
959–75). Edgar was the younger son of Edmund I of England
cognomen, "The Peaceable", was not
necessarily a comment on the deeds of his life, for he was a strong
leader, shown by his seizure of the Northumbrian and Mercian kingdoms
from his older brother, Eadwig, in
A conclave of nobles held Edgar to be king north of the
Thames, and Edgar aspired to succeed to the English throne.
Though Edgar was not a particularly peaceable man, his reign was a
peaceful one. The kingdom of England
was at its height. Edgar
consolidated the political unity achieved by his predecessors. By
the end of Edgar's reign, England was sufficiently unified that it
was unlikely to regress back to a state of division among rival
kingships, like it had to an extent under Eadred's reign.
Edgar and Dunstan
Upon Eadwig's death in October 959, Edgar immediately recalled
as St. Dunstan) from exile to have
him made Bishop of Worcester
(and subsequently Bishop of London
and Archbishop of
). The allegation Dunstan at first refused to crown
Edgar because of disapproval for his way of life is a discreet
reference in popular histories to Edgar's abduction of Wulfthryth,
a nun at Wilton, who bore him a daughter Eadgyth
. Dunstan remained Edgar's advisor
throughout his reign.
Coins of Edgar I (959–975).
The Monastic Reform Movement that restored the Benedictine Rule
to England's undisciplined
monastic communities peaked during the era of Dunstan, Æthelwold
, and Oswald
. (Historians continue to debate
the extent and significance of this movement.)
Coronation at Bath (AD 973)
crowned at Bath, but not
until 973, in an imperial ceremony planned not as the initiation,
but as the culmination of his reign (a move that must have taken a
great deal of preliminary diplomacy).
This service, devised
by Dunstan himself and celebrated with a poem in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
, forms the
basis of the present-day British coronation ceremony. The symbolic
coronation was an important step; other kings of Britain came and
gave their allegiance to Edgar shortly afterwards at Chester.
in Britain, including the kings of Scotland and of
Strathclyde, pledged their
faith that they would be the king's liege-men on sea and
Later chroniclers made the kings into eight, all
plying the oars of Edgar's state barge on the River Dee
. Such embellishments may not be
factual, but the main outlines of the "submission at Chester"
appear true. (See History of
Death (AD 975)
on 8 July 975 at Winchester, and was buried at Glastonbury Abbey.
He left two sons, the elder named Edward
, who was probably his illegitimate
son by Æthelflæd (not to be confused with the Lady of the Mercians
), and Æthelred
, the younger, the child
of his wife Ælfthryth
. He was succeeded
by Edward. Edgar's illegitimate daughter Eadgyth
became a nun at Wilton and was
eventually canonised as St. Edith.
From Edgar’s death to the Norman
, there was not a single succession to the throne that
was not contested. Some see Edgar’s death as the beginning of the
end of Anglo-Saxon England, followed as it was by three successful
11th-century conquests — two Danish and one Norman.
For a more complete genealogy including ancestors and descendants,
see House of Wessex family
Diagram based on the information found
- Scragg, Donald (ed.). Edgar, King of the English, 959–975:
New Interpretations. Publications of the Manchester Centre for
Anglo-Saxon Studies. Manchester: Boydell Press, 2008. ISBN
1843833999. Contents (external link).
- Williams, Ann. "Edgar (943/4–975)." Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press,
- Keynes, Simon. "England, c. 900–1016." In The New
Cambridge Medieval History III. c.900–c.1024, ed. Timothy
Reuter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 456-84.