(d. 959) king of England

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B. c.942, s. of Edmund and Aelfgifu; acc. Nov. 955; m. Aelfgifu, da. of Aethelgifu, c.956; d. 1 Oct. 959.

A small boy when his father was murdered in 946, Eadwig succeeded his uncle in 955. His brief reign, dominated by palace intrigue, is hard to interpret. He was crowned at Kingston-upon-Thames in January 956 and was married soon after to a cousin; it is said that at the coronation feast abbot Dunstan was obliged to rebuke him for drunken and lascivious behaviour. His marriage was annulled in 958 on grounds on consanguinity. He was soon involved in further difficulties. Dunstan, a close friend of his predecessor, was driven into exile, and Mercia and Northumbria appear to have withdrawn their allegiance, choosing Edgar as king. Since Edgar was no more than fourteen, the division may have been an agreed one, but it carried a threat to the unity of Wessex/England, built up so carefully in the previous eighty years. The danger was removed in 959 when Eadwig died, leaving Edgar as king of all England. Eadwig's character has been variously assessed. Aethelweard, a close relative, writing thirty years later, tells us that he was called ‘All-Fair’, and ‘deserved to be loved’; a modern historian has described him, more tersely, as ‘licentious and incompetent’.

Subjects: British History.

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