Alternate History

Edmund II of England (The Once and Never Kings)

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Edmund Ironside
Edmund Ironside - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg
Edmund II
King of England (Wessex after October, 1016)
Reign 23 April, 1016 - 14 August, 1032
Predecessor Æthelred II
Successor Edward III
Spouse Ealdgyth
Issue Edward III
House Wessex
Father Æthelred the Unready
Mother Ælfgifu of York
Born c. 985 - c. 990
Died 14 August, 1034
Winchester, Wessex

Edmund II Ironside is widely regarded as the last king of a truly united England. Modern Wessex scholars praise him, and his son Edward, as the "great defenders" of the remnant of the Anglo-Saxon era. Edmund would also turn Wessex's attention to the Welsh and Irish petty kingdoms, often considered an offset to the loss of the Danelaw.

Born sometime between 985 and 990 AD, Edmund was the third eldest son of Æthelred II, more often known as Æthelred the Unready. His second oldest brother, Egbert, died around 1005 AD, moving Edmund to second in line for the English throne. The original heir, Æthelstan, and Edmund developed a close relationship during their childhood, though they probably felt threatened or pressured by their mothers, Emma of Normandy, well-known ambitions for her sons.

Edmund and Æthelstan remained in England during Sweyn Forkbeard's invasion of England, and his subsequent seizure of the Crown. After Sweyn died in February of 1014 and the acceptance of his son, Cnut, as King by the Five Boroughs, Æthelred returned to England, surprising the vikings and pushing them from England. Edmund later married, Ealdgyth, the widow of executed Danish sympathizer, Sigeferth, possibly in an attempt to consolidate control over the Danelaw. Æthelstan would die in June of 1014, making Edmund heir to England.

Cnut would return in late 1015 with a new army. Edmund would make several defenses, only to lose more men at Cnuts hand. The matter wasn't helped by Æthelreds continued absences from leading the armies, some say from illnes, others say cowardice. Upon Æthelreds death in April, 1016, Edmund travelled to Winchester, where he accepted the submission of the English nobles. Most of the remaining months of 1016 were spent trying to outfox Cnut, who continued to lay siege to London.

Edmunds defense would end in October at the battle of Assandum. Following his defeat, Edmund agreed to divide England between himself and Cnut: Wessex to him, the Danelaw to Cnut.

A stipulation was agreed that, upon the death of either of them, the survivor would inherit the other half. It has been theorized that Wessex would've lived up to this agreement, had there not been an assassination attempt made on Edmund three weeks after Assandum. Starting from there, Wessex began preparing for a war, should Cnut outlive Edmund.

In the meantime, Wessex turned its attention to the Welsh and Irish kingdoms. Most of southern Wales, including the Kingdoms of Gwent and Morgannwg, fell to Wessex during the mid-1020s, though invasions of Leinster and Dublin only served to sap resources from a Wessex still trying from Æthelreds infamous fiscal irresponsibility.

Edmund would die in August, 1032. The Wessex nobles would declare his son as Edward III, which would spark a new invasion by Cnut and the War of Wessexian Succession.

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