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Edward the Atheling

Edward the Atheling (d. 1057), known as ‘the Exile’. Mystery surrounds the return of Edward the Atheling to England in 1057. The son of King Edmund Ironside (d. 1016), he was forced into exile as a young boy by Cnut's conquest of England. Later, not very reliable, sources suggest that Cnut intended that he should be harmed in exile, but in fact he was well treated in Hungary, and married a royal princess, Agatha, connected with the imperial ruling house of Henry II. Negotiations were set on foot for his return by an embassy sent out in 1054, but he died soon after his arrival and was buried at St Paul's in London. One version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has the laconic and possibly sinister entry, ‘we do not know for what reason it was brought about that he was not allowed to look on (the face?) of his kinsman, King Edward’. As Edward's nephew, but even more so as Edmund's son, he was next in line by blood to the succession. His children were well treated in England. Edgar Atheling, his son, was acclaimed king for a brief period at London immediately after the battle of Hastings, and lived on in a modest role in the Anglo-Norman world into the 1120s. His daughter Margaret, later St Margaret, was queen of Scotland.

Henry Loyn

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