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Edgar ∆theling

(Redirected from Edgar Atheling)
Edgar ∆theling
Ruled: October 14, 1066December, 1066
Predecessor: Harold II
Date of Birth: circa 1051
Place of Birth: Kiev or Hungary
Date of Death: circa 1126
Place of Death: Place unknown
Buried: Place unknown
Parents: Edward the Exile and his wife Agatha


Edgar ∆theling (c. 1051 – c. 1126) was an uncrowned Anglo-Saxon king. Born in Hungary, he was also known as "Edgar the Outlaw". The Anglo-Saxon name Atheling or, more correctly, ∆theling, means "son of the king". Proclaimed king by the witan following the death of Harold II in the Battle of Hastings on October 14 1066, Edgar was never crowned and submitted to William I some eight weeks later. He was only about thirteen or fourteen years old.

Edgar was the only son of Edward the Exile, heir to the English throne, and grandson of King Edmund Ironside. Upon his father's death in 1057, Edgar was nominated as Heir Apparent by the king Edward the Confessor. Edgar was brought up at Edward's court, together with his sisters, Margaret and Christina. However he was too young at the time of the king's death in January 1066 to defend the country against impending invasion, and his election as king after Harold's death was no more than a symbolic token of defiance against the invading Norman forces.

Edgar relied largely for his support upon Archbishop Stigand and upon Earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria and, when this weakened, (within a matter of days of the witan), Edgar was forced inevitably to submit to William at Berkhamstead in either late November or early December 1066.

William treated Edgar well. Seeing political advantage, he kept him in his custody and eventually took him back to his court in Normandy. However, Edgar joined in the rebellion of the earls Edwin and Morcar in 1068 and, though defeated, he fled to the court of Malcolm III of Scotland. The next year Malcolm married Edgar's sister Margaret, and agreed to support Edgar in his attempt to claim the English crown. In exchange, Edgar married Malcolm's sister, another Margaret. Edgar now made common cause with Sweyn Estridson, the king of Denmark and nephew of Canute, who believed he was the rightful king of England.

Their combined forces invaded England in 1069. They captured York, but did not proclaim the independence of Northumbria. William marched on the north, devastating the land as he went. He paid the Danes to leave, whilst Edgar fled to Scotland. He remained in refuge there until 1072 when William successfully enforced a peace treaty on Malcolm, the terms of which included the exile of Edgar. Edgar eventually made his peace with William in 1074 but he never fully gave up his dreams of regaining the throne of England. He supported Robert, Duke of Normandy, against William II in 1091 and again found himself seeking refuge in Scotland. He also supported his nephew, Edgar, in gaining the Scottish throne, overthrowing Donald III.

Around 1098 he went to Constantinople, where he may have joined the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Empire. Later that year he was given a fleet by Emperor Alexius I to assist in the First Crusade, and brought reinforcements to the crusaders at the Siege of Antioch. He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Tinchebrai in 1106 fighting for Duke Robert against Henry I. He returned to England where Henry pardoned him, and he retired to his country estate in Hertfordshire. His niece Edith (renamed Matilda) had married Henry I in 1100. Edgar is believed to have travelled to Scotland late in life, perhaps around the year 1120, and was still alive in 1125, but may have died soon after, in his early seventies. By then he was forgotten by most and is remembered now only as the "lost king" of England.


Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46