Edgard Ătheling (1050 - ????)

Translation : Andrew Zolnai

He was recognized King of England by the Witenagemot(1) after the death of Harold Godwinson in October 1066, but he was never crowned because of the Norman invasion and the accession to the throne of William Ist"the Conqueror".

He is the son of Edward "the Exiled" and Agathe(2). He was probably born around 1050 while his father was in exile in the court of the King of Hungary(3).

Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Ătheling
Edgard Ătheling
Source : WikipÚdia

In 1057, Edouard "the Exiled" is called back to England with his family by King Edward "the Confessor" but he suddenly died shortly after arriving on the island.
Although Edgard was the last male representative of the family of Cerdic of Wessex(4) and as such the last in the hereditary line of succession to the Saxon throne, there is no compelling evidence that Edward "the Confessor" have done anything to associate him to the throne and make him his successor.

After the defeat of Hastings in 1066, the Witenagemot, led by the last major Saxon lords(5) recognizes him as successor of Harold Godwinson.

But the deployment of the Normans in the country and the imminent arrival of William I at the gates of London caused a stampede in the Saxon clan. When William crosses the Thames at Wallingford(6), he is greeted by Stigand(7) who submits to him immediately.

The encircling maneuver of London by the Normans completes the dissolution of the Saxon Council and in early December 1066, the last representatives of the Witenagemot and Edgard Ătheling appear before William I in the town of Berkhamsted(8) and submit to him.

After accession to the throne of William I, Edgard Ătheling was exiled to Normandy with several Saxon counts, including Edwin of Mercia(9) Morcar of Northumbria(10) and Waltheof(11). They returned to England at the end of 1067 or early 1068 and settled in the court of William.
Edgard Ătheling quickly fled the court and joined Scotland where he took refuge in the court of King Malcolm III Canmore.

In 1072, after the treaty of Abernethy concluded between Malcolm III and William I, Edgard Ătheling is forced to leave the island and find refuge in Flanders, by the Count Robert "the Frisian"(12).

Probably around 1078-1079, Edgard Ătheling returned to England and is reconciled with William I. He then befriends the son of William, Robert "Courteheuse"(13).

In 1086, he received permission from William I to raise troops and to arm a fleet to fight in Apulia alongside the Normands of Bohemond of Taranto.

Source : WikipÚdia, l'encyclopÚdie libre - La Bataille de Tinchebray
The battle of Tinchebray
Source : WikipÚdia

Back in England after William's death, he gets from Robert "Courteheuse", became Duke of Normandy, permission to settle on his land and receive a domain. But in 1091, Robert "Courteheuse" and his brother William II "Rufus" resolve their disagreement by the Treaty of Caen.
This reconciliation between the enemy brothers has as result that Edgard Ătheling is expelled from Normandy and must again take refuge at the court of Malcolm III of Scotland.

He then encouraged the king of Scotland to attack English possessions in the north, but they must face a coalition of William II and his brother Robert. After some fighting between two clans, Edgard and Robert meet and negotiate a truce between the two sides at the end of 1091.

In 1093, Donald ascended the throne of Scotland at the death of Malcolm III, but William II recognizes a certain Edgard, one of the nephews of Edgard Ătheling as King of Scotland.

In 1095, after subjugating Robert de Mowbray(14) who had fomented a conspiracy against the King of England, Edgar is at the head of the Anglo-Norman army which invaded Scotland to put his nephew Edgard on the throne.

In 1100, at the death of William II, his niece Matilda (or Edith) marries the brother and successor of King, Henry 1st "Beauclerc".

In 1106, he is again alongside Robert "Courteheuse" in his fight against the new King of England. He was taken prisoner at the battle of Tinchebray(15) with Robert.

Quickly released by the king, he retired to his Norman domains and disappears from the historical records.

Blason mythique de la maison de Sussex

Previous king : Harold Godwinson - Next king : William Ist "the Conqueror"

Back to the list of England's Kings

Notes :

(1)The Witenagemot or Witan was a assembly of wise men of the Saxons. This assembly, operating almost as a sort of parliament, was composed of influential men of the kingdom, the clergy, the Earls and Thegns.

(2)Also called Edward of Outremer or Edward Ătheling. He was born around 1016 and died in 1057. He was the son of King Edmund II "Ironside" and Ealdgyth (Edith). He was called "the Exiled" because he spent most of his life away from England, mainly in Denmark.
He escaped an assassination attempt orchestrated by King Knut the Great, and he took refuge at the court of Prince Yaroslav of Kiev. There, he married a daughter of the prince. After his marriage, he moved to Hungary, where his uncle Edward "the Confessor" meanwhile become King of England, recalled him and designated him as his heir. He died a few days after his return to English soil.

(3)At that time, the king is Andrew 1st "┴rpßd" said "the Catholic", born around 1005, died in 1060. He is king of Hungary from 1046 to 1060.

(4)Cerdic is of unknown origin. He is mentioned for the first time in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" (set of annals in Old English relating the history of the Anglo-Saxons). The original manuscript of this chronicle dates of the end of the 9th century. He was born around 470 and died in 534. He became the first king of Wessex from 519 to 534. He is considered as the ancestor of various English and British royal dynasties to the house of Windsor.

(5)Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ealdred, Archbishop of York, and the two brothers-in-law of Harold Godwinson : Edwin, Earl of Mercia, and Morcar, Earl of Northumbria.

(6)Wallingford is a town in Oxfordshire, England. It is located around 20 km southeast of Oxford, along the Thames.

(7)Stigand comes from a wealthy family of Anglo-Scandinavian origin. We don't know his birthdate, but it seems that it was at the end of the 10th or the early beginning of the 11th century. He is first admitted to the Court of king Knut the Great as chaplain before become one of his councilors.
Under the reign of Edward III "the Confessor", he is among the most important of his councilors. He is appointed Bishop of Elmham in 1043, and then Bishop of Winchester four years later. In 1052, he is appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. He died in 1072.

(8)Berkhamsted is a city of Hertfordshire, located around 60 km east of Oxford and 50 km north of London.

(9)He became Earl of Mercia at the death of his father Ălfgar in 1062.
He is the eldest son in a family which is also composed of Morcar, the future Earl of Northumbria and Edith, the future wife of Harold Godwinson.
In 1071, as the two brothers try to raise Mercia again against William 1st "The Conqueror", Edwin is betrayed by his escort and killed.

(10)He became Earl of Northumbria in 1065, after a peasant revolt ousted Tostig Godwinson from the throne of the County. He was the second son of Ălfgar of Mercia. His older brother was Edwin, the future Earl of Mercia and his sister Edith's, future wife of Harold Godwinson.
In 1066, he was defeated at the Battle of Fulford by an army led by Tostig Godwinson and King Harald III of Norway.
In 1071, as the two brothers try to raise Mercia again against William 1 'The Conqueror', Edwin is betrayed by his escort and killed. Some time later, Morcar is captured and will finish his life in Norman jails at an unknown date.

(11)Waltheof Siwardson of Northumbria. He was born around 1050 and died executed on May 31st 1076. He was the second son of the Earl Siward of Northumbria, who died in 1055. The death of his older brother, much older than him the previous year, made him the heir to the County. But his being too young prompted King Edward III to name Tostig Godwinson as Lord of the County.
At the end of the year 1066, he submitted to William "the Conqueror", who finally gave him the Northumbria County. But in 1075, he participated in a plot against the king. Arrested, he was judged and sentenced to death. He was beheaded May 31st 1076 in Winchester.

(12)Robert 1st of Flanders, also called Robert "the Frisian". Born about 1035, died on October 13th 1093. He was the second son of Count Baldwin V and Adele of France. On the death of his elder brother, Baldwin VI, Count of Flanders, he dispossesses Arnulf III, son of the latter, of his throne and became Count of Flanders from 1071 to 1093.

(13)Robert II of Normandy, also called Robert "Curthose". Born about 1051, died in February 1134. He was the eldest son of William 1st "the Conqueror" and inherited the Duchy of Normandy in 1087 at the death of his father. He also fought over the succession to the throne of England with his two younger brothers, the future kings William II and Henry 1st. In 1106, he was captured at the Battle of Tinchebray and imprisoned. He died while he was imprisoned in Cardiff Castle on February 3rd 1134.

(14)Robert Mowbray (Montbray) came from a powerful Anglo-Norman family. He was born around 1060 and died at an unknown date between 1115 and 1125. He was Earl of Northumbria between 1087 and 1095. In 1095, he rebelled against King William II "Rufus" but was captured. He was taken captive in Windsor where he died between 1115 and 1125.

(15)This battle took place on September 28th 1106 near the town of Tinchebray in Normandy (about 65 km south west of Caen and 50 km east of Avranches). It opposed the armies of the two warring brothers: The King of England Henry 1st also called Beauclerc and the Duke of Normandy Robert Curtehose.
The King of England won a resounding victory and Robert Curthose is captured and taken to prison where he died in 1134. The victory also allowed Henry 1st to link Normandy to his kingdom.

More references... Bibliography
  1. "Les Cahiers de l'Histoire"
    4Úme trimestre 1960
  2. Who's Who in British History, Early Medieval England 1066-1272
    Christopher Tyerman ; StackPole Books, 2001
  3. Kings and Queens of England - From the Saxon Kings to the House of Windsor
    Nigel Cawthorne ; Arcturus Publishing Limited, 2009
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Translation : Andrew Zolnai
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