Family tree for King Edmund Ironside, son of King Aethelred the Unready showing:
Throughout his life, England was plagued by repeated Viking attacks. Edmund earned the nickname Ironside for his bravery fighting the Danes but England was not strong enough to defeat them and Aethelred had to make repeated Danegeld payments to make them go away.
Edmund’s mother died in 1002 and King Aethelred married Emma of Normandy the same year. On 13th November, the King ordered the massacre of all Danes in England hoping to minimise the risk of attack from within the country. The sister of Viking leader, Sweyn Forkbeard was one of those killed. Forkbeard increased the raids and attacks on England and by 1013 had conquered most of England. Sweyn proclaimed himself King of England and Aethelred and his young family fled to Normandy. It is believed that Edmund Ironside and his brothers remained in England.
Sweyn Forkbeard died in February 1014. He nominated his son, Canute, to succeed but the majority of the nobility did not want Canute to rule and called for Aethelred to return as King. The country was unstable and there was still fighting between the English and the Danes, Canute vowed to invade and claim the throne. Edmund’s elder brother Aethelstan died fighting the Danes in June 1014.
In 1015, Edmund Ironside married Ealdgyth, widow of a thegn that had been killed on Aethelred’s orders for supporting Canute. Edmund did not have his father’s permission to marry and the two became estranged. Edmund and Ealdgyth had two sons, Edward, who would become known as the Exile, was born in Spring 1016 and Edmund was born in 1017.
Aethelred the Unready died on 23rd April 1016 and Edmund became King. Shortly afterwards Edmund joined forces with Uhtred the Bold of Northumbria but Canute took Northumbria and murdered Uhtred. Edmund was pushed back and in October 1016 was defeated at the Battle of Assandun. He made an agreement to share the rule of England with Canute. On 30th November Edmund died and Canute seized the throne. Ealdgyth and her children fled to the continent.
First published 2017; updated and re-published Jul 26 2020 @ 2:15 pm – Updated –
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2017 – 2020). King Edmund II Ironside 990 – 1016. Available: https://www.treesofblue.com/king-edmund-ii-ironside-990-1016. Last accessed April 28th, 2021