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Edward III of Wessex (The Once and Never Kings)

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Edward III
Edward-the-atheling.jpg
Edward III
King of England
Reign 14 August, 1032 - 26 August, 1057
Predecessor Edmund II
Successor Edgar II
Spouse Agatha
Issue Edgar II
Margaret of Scotland
Cristina
House Wessex
Father Edmund II
Mother Ealdgyth
Born 1016
Winchester, England
Died 26 August, 1057
Winchester, Wessex

Edward III was the first King of Wessex following the 1016 division of England. But his coronation would lead to a renewed war with the Danish realm, and further widen the gap between Wessex and Jórvík.

Life

Edward was born sometime in the year 1016, the eldest child of Edmund Ironside, who may or may not have been already crowned king of England depending on his birthdate.

Nevertheless, Edward was born in the midst of a Danish-backed invasion of England, lead by the Danish Prince Cnut, who claimed that the throne of England was rightfully his.

Following the death of Æthelred II, Edwards father Edmund was crowned king, and took personal control of the Saxon armies. While Edmund fought valiantly, he was ultimately defeated at the Battle of Assandun in October of 1016. Following the battle, Edmund and Cnut agreed to divide England between them: Wessex to Edmund, the old Danelaw to Cnut. It was also agreed that the two would be united under whoever outlived the other.

This deal would've denied Edward his spot on the throne, until an assassination attempt on Edmunds life a month after Assandun spoiled any goodwill on the part of Wessex. Believing the attempt was backed by the Danes, the Saxons made plans to resist a Danish takeover of Wessex should Edmund die before Cnut.

And so, Edward was trained heavily in military and administrative matters during his childhood and early adolescence. Several times, he was given command over a portion of the Saxon army during several campaigns against the remaining Welsh and Cornish petty kingdoms. One more than one occasion, he met Cnut's son and heir to his claim to England, Harald. While they weren't exactly friends, they grew to know and respect one another.

Edmund II died on August 14, 1032 when Edward was around sixteen. Before word could reach Cnut of Edmunds passing, the Saxon Witenagemot elected Edward as King of England (a title more ceremonial than otherwise).

When Cnut was informed of these events, he immediately called his forces to take Wessex forcibly. When Cnut's armies invaded, Edward outwitted him several times,musing diversions to draw Cnut's army out of position before taking advantage of that to threaten his supply lines or the Danelaw directly.

But Edwards forces were still outnumbered, and were being steadily worn down. By 1035, he knew he needed a decisive victory before Danish reinforcements arrived. So, it was decided to invade the Danelaw and besiege Lincoln, forcing the Danish army onto ground of the Saxons choosing. In the subsequent Battle of Lincoln, an arrow struck Cnut in his eye, killing him and leading to confusion as to who was in control, and allowed for a Saxon victory.

With Cnut dead, it was left to Harald to settle peace with Edward. They both agreed to drop their claims to the other half of former England, and Harald agreed to recognize Wessex's control of London, taken by Edward during the war.

With peace with the newly established Kingdom of Jórvík made, Edward turned inward, devoting much of the remainder of his life to repairing the damage done by two devestaing wars, as well as trying to climb out of the fiscal mess from Æthelred II's reign that continued to dog Wessex.

Edward would not lead Wessex into any more wars while he tried so, but after his death in 1057, his son Edgar would restart the expeditions against the Welsh and Cornish, furthering Wessex's westward expansion. Despite Edwards respect for Harald I, future Wessexian Kings would adopt a policy of challenging Jórvík, first in the Isles, then worldwide as the colonial age was ushered.

Family

Edward married a woman named Agatha, whose origins are unknown. They had three children.

  • Edgar, became King of Wessex after the death of Edward III.
  • Margaret, married Malcolm III, King of Scots
  • Cristina, became an Abbess at Romsey Abbey

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