On this day, exactly a millennium ago—30 November 1016, Edmund II “Ironside” died at the age of 27. Edmund II, King of England and of Wessex, was my two-times 30th great-grandfather.
In February 1014, Sweyn died, and his son Cnut the Great was made king. However, Æthelred returned to England and launched a surprise attack, defeating the Vikings and forcing Cnut from England. King Æthelred ordered that Ealdgyth, the widow of one of Cnut’s allies, be captured and brought to Malmesbury Abbey; however, Edmund seized and married Ealdgyth in defiance of his father, probably to consolidate his power base in the East Midlands.
At about the same time, Cnut launched a new invasion of England. In late 1015, Edmund raised an army, possibly assisted by his wife’s and mother’s connections in the midlands and the north. In early 1016, the army assembled by Edmund dispersed when Æthelred was not on hand to lead it. Edmund then raised a new army and, in conjunction with Uhtred the Bold, Earl of Northumbria, ravaged the Mercian territories. Cnut occupied Northumbria, and Uhtred was killed by Cnut. Edmund went to London.
Æthelred died on 23 April 1016, and the citizens and councilors in London chose Edmund as king. When the Danes laid siege to London, Edmund headed for Wessex, where he gathered an army. Edmund fought five battles against the Danes, ending with in his defeat to Cnut at the Battle of Assandun on 18 October 1016, after which they agreed to divide the kingdom. Edmund took Wessex, and Cnut took the rest. However, on 30 November 1016, Edmund died, making Cnut the king of all England.
Edmund was buried in Glastonbury Abbey. Somerset. However, any remains of a monument or crypt have been destroyed, and the location of Edmund’s body is unknown.
In 1057, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Ironside moniker was given to Edmund II “because of his valor” in resisting the Danish invasion led by Cnut the Great.
Edmund had two children by Ealdgyth, Edward the Exile (my two-times 28th great-grandfather through his daughter Margaret of Wessex) and Edmund. Supposedly, Cnut sent the boys to Olof Skötkonung, King of Sweden, to be killed; instead, the Swedish king sent them to either Kiev or Poland. They eventually ended up in Hungary, where Edmund died but Edward prospered. In 1057, Edward returned to England, only to die within days of his arrival. Edward the Exile’s son, Edgar the Ætheling, was briefly proclaimed king after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 but was overthrown by William the Conqueror (my 28th great-grandfather through his son Henry I of England.)