Book 2, Chapter 7, Alfred’s Children from 901 AD to 955 – Alfred’s Children
His policy with respect to Mercia had to be deferred for some years, until the death of Ethelfleda, his sister, in 920, afforded a convenient opportunity, but of the events attending its annexation the historians have left but a confused account. During her lifetime she had made over to her brother the important cities of London and Oxford, or, according to another version (which, however, is inconsistent with the known spirit of Ethelfleda) allowed him to seize them on the demise of her husband. When his sister died, Edward took possession of the country, as it is alleged, on the pretext that his niece Elfwina, who should have succeeded, was about to marry a Danish chief, and such an alliance being inconvenient and threatening future complications, Elfwina was sent south, and is heard of no more in history. Probably she became a nun.
By these means further steps were taken towards the ultimate consolidation of the kingdom. Alfred rescued his country from the wild hordes who threatened to possess it, and he laid a broad and sure foundation for a true national government, and for social development, upon which his successors might build Edward went further, and by bold aggression wrested from the Danes an increase to his own territory, but he did not much towards the perfecting of those measures for domestic wealth, comfort, and intelligence, which his father had initiated.
Edward’s reign of twenty four years was chiefly a long series of battles, which won for him great military renown, both at home and abroad. His friendship was sought by continental princes, and his children were contracted in marriage with some of the noblest families of Europe. William of Malmesbury says that the first part of the daughters’ lives was devoted to letters, and they were afterwards taught to use the needle and distaff. The sons received the best education of the day, to qualify them for the offices of government which they were to fill. Edward died at Farringdon, in Berkshire, in 924, and was interred in the new minster at Winchester.
It has been commonly alleged that this monarch was the illegitimate son of Edward, and William of Malmesbury tells a romantic tale of the circumstances which led to his birth, declaring that his mother was the daughter of a neatherd. Yet in another place he states that she was of noble lineage. The tale has about it an air of improbability, and it reads like many others which the monkish annalists of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries were so partial of recording, tales, some of which are not of the most edifying character for morality, and which are not worthy of being perpetuated. Their omission from the present record will not in the least degree detract from its accuracy, nor will its real interest be thereby lessened, while the claims of truth and of propriety will be strictly observed.
Chapter 7, Alfred’s Children
Chapter 7, Athelstan
Chapter 7, Renown of Athelstan
Chapter 7, Edmund
Chapter 7, Edred
Categories: Book 2