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Edmund Ironside, or Eadmund (988 – November 30, 1016), surnamed "Ironside" for his efforts to fend off the Danish invasion led by King Canute, was as Edmund II King of England from April 23 to November 30, 1016.


Edmund was the second son of King Æthelred II and his first wife, Aelfgifu of Northumbria. He had three brothers, the elder being Aethelstan, and the younger two being Eadred and Ecgbert. His mother was dead by 996, after which his father remarried, this time to Emma of Normandy.

Aethelstan died in 1014, leaving Edmund as heir. A power-struggle began between Edmund and his father, and in 1015 King Ethelred had two of Edmund's allies, Sigeferth and Morcar murdered by Eadric Streona. Edmund then took Sigeferth's widow, Aeldgyth, from the nunnery where she had been imprisoned and married her in defiance of his father. During this time, Canute the Great attacked England with his forces. In 1016 Edmund staged a rebellion in conjunction with Earl Uhtred of Northumbria, but after Uhtred deserted him and submitted to Canute, Edmund was reconciled with his father.

Royal and military history[]

Ethelred II, who had earlier been stricken ill, died on April 23, 1016. Edmund succeeded to the throne and mounted a last-ditch effort to revive the defence of England. While the Danes laid siege to London, Edmund headed for Wessex, where he gathered an army. When the Danes pursued him he fought them to a standstill. He then raised a renewed Danish siege of London and won repeated victories over Canute. However, on October 18 Canute decisively defeated him at the Battle of Ashingdon in Essex. After the battle the two kings negotiated a peace in which Edmund kept Wessex while Canute held the lands north of the River Thames. In addition, they agreed that if one of them should perish, territories belonging to the deceased would be ceded to the living.


On November 30, 1016, King Edmund II died in Oxford or London and his territories were ceded to Canute who then became King of England. The cause of Edmund's death has never been fully clear; while some accounts claim it to be from natural causes, it is commonly held that he was assassinated by the treacherous Eadric Streona. Edmund was buried at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset. His burial site is now lost and the location of his body is unknown.


Edmund had two children by Aeldgyth: Edward and Edmund, who both were sent by Canute the Great to Sweden, but were sent from there to Kiev, ending up in Hungary.

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