Monday, December 02, 2013

Historical Footnotes: The Strange Tale of Edward the Exile

When Sven Forkbeard conquered England he drove out the Saxon King Edmund, who fled to Normandy and the court of his sister's brother, Richard II. But Sven died soon thereafter and Edmund returned to be proclaimed King of England. But Sven's son, Cnut the Great, would not have it so. In 1015 he invaded England, and after a grueling year long contest the two men decided to divide England amongst them.

But then in 1017 Edmund died and Cnut took the whole of England (this would be Mercia, Nothumbria, Wessex and East Anglia) for himself. He banished Edmund's wife and his sons, Edward and Edmund, he carted off to Sweden to be murdered by his brother monarch King Olaf. But Olaf denied Cnut and sent the boys to the far off court of his sister in Kiev. After a short stay there the brothers joined a bid for the Hungarian throne by one of the Queen's relatives. There the brothers settled.

Edmund soon died, but Edward the Exile prospered.

As the years unfolded the Danish realm of Cnut dissolved as his sons squabbled and quickly died. England fell to chaos and war. The civil wars eventually allowed Edward the Confessor to rise to power and return the house of Wessex to the throne. But he could not hold it against the powers building against him for he was without heir. In the political turmoil of the 1050s Edward's existence became known to the King and he recalled him to England, naming him his heir. This move promised continuity, stability and peace.

And thus 30 years of political exile ended when Edward the Exile arrived back in his home country to claim his father's throne.

He arrived in August of 1057. He was dead within two days.

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