Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 23 November 2015

King Eadred and King Eadwig

Today is the 1060th anniversary of the death of King Eadred at Frome in 955. He was aged about 30 and appears to have suffered an illness which affected his ability to eat solid food and also to have had a permanent disability which affected his feet. Nonetheless he was not inactive as a ruler.
There is a brief online biography of the King at Eadred, and the more detailed and academic life of him by Ann Williams in the Oxford DNB can be read at Eadred [Edred]

The year after his accession he was recognised as King by the York Vikings in 947 at Tanshelf - the later Pontefract - and in the next year, following a northern revolt against his rule marched north and in 948 burned Ripon, including St Wilfrid's church there, and fought a battle at Castleford.

His successor was his nephew, Eadwig, who was born in 940, the son of King Edmund I who had been accidentally killed attempting to stop a fight between two retainers in 946. The new King was remembered as a good looking teenager, but one who got a bad press from monastic writers. There is anonline account of his life and reign at Eadwig, and Simon Keynes' Oxford DNB life can be read at Eadwig [Edwy] There is also a useful piece about the reign at Anglo-Saxons.net : Eadwig All-Fair

It was following his coronation at Kingston on Thames in late January 956 that probably the most famous event of his short reign occurred - having slipped away from the coronation feast the fifteen year old King was found cavorting ( make of that what you will ) with his future wife and her mother by St Dunstan, Abbot of Glastonbury, and the Bishop of Lichfield, who dressed him and returned him to the feast. The young King was, in consequence, no fan of Dunstan, and Dunstan's part in dissolving the King's marriage as within the prohibited degrees of affinity and against the King's will did not help. Hence the monastic bad press for the King. As the saint's modern biographer, Douglas Dales, remarked in a talk I heard him give whilst on a retreat at Glastonbury, Eadwig's behaviour was that of a typical teenager - and Douglas Dales was speaking as a public schoolmaster.

In 957 the King's younger brother Edgar was recognised as King of Mercia - which looks to be his creation as Junior King and his recognition as heir apparent. Two years later he succeeded Eadwig when in 959 he died at Gloucester.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

hi I don't know your name. I am interested in knowing more about King Eadred who died in my home town of Frome. I am about to have published, by Hobnob Press, a history of Athelstan's reign which introduces Eadred as a young boy and in time I hope to be writing about his exploits as King too. 'Flesh and Bones of Frome Selwood and Wessex' comes out sometime before the end of 2017; part story, part academic.
Nice to see a fellow enthusiast out there.