Farndon Local History Pages


Edward the Elder (899-924) Son of King Alfred, King of the Anglo-Saxons

Edward the Elder, king of the Anglo-Saxons (899-924), was probably born in the 870s (he was the second child of a marriage of 868, and led troops in battle in 893). He was the son of Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, and Ealhswith, a Mercian noblewoman. He had a younger brother, ∆thelweard, and three sisters. Edward's byname "the Elder" first appeared at the end of the tenth century (in Wulfstan's Life of St ∆thelwold), probably to distinguish him from the later King Edward the Martyr (975-78). Edward the Elder is best known for his reconquest of all of England south of the Humber after the Viking invasions of the previous century.

Edward died on 17 July 924, at Farndon. Contemporary sources record no further details, but William of Malmesbury (Gesta Regum, ii.133) records that he died a few days after quelling a combined Mercian / Welsh revolt at Chester.

There is no reference to Edward's relations with the Mercians in the narrative sources between 919, when Edward is commanding Mercian armies, and 924, when William of Malmesbury records a Mercian revolt at Chester. It may be that lingering Mercian resentment of Edward's summary treatment of ∆lfwyn helped to inspire the revolt. A more pragmatic reason, though it cannot be dated precisely to Edward's reign, might be that the reorganization of western Mercia into shires took place in the last five years of Edward's reign. The first evidence of the new Mercian shires comes in a reference to Cheshire in 980: the boundaries of the new shires run rough-shod over the ancient divisions of Mercia. Such a rearrangement would probably have caused at least as much resentment in the tenth as it did in the twentieth century. Edward, having just conquered the Danes south of the Humber, is unlikely to have worried about the unrest of the English Mercians, and it is plausible that the rearrangement of the Mercian shires closely followed Edward's assertion of direct control over Mercia in 918. It is equally plausible that this action would result in revolts, such as the one that apparently led to the Edward's death in 924.

Edward was taken to to buried at the New Minster, Winchester, a monastery he himself had founded in 901.




Early British Kingdoms by David Nash


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