views updated May 11 2018

Edgar (943–75), king of England (959–75). The reign of Edgar as sole king of England marks an important stage in the development of the English monarchy. His coronation at Bath in 973, when the king was in his 30th year, has strong ecclesiastical as well as secular implications, and indeed the ceremony contained elements that formed the basis for all future coronations. Edgar's early years were not easy. He and his elder brother Edwy were the sons of King Edmund (939–46), and on the death of their uncle Edred (946–55) Edwy succeeded to the throne. He proved licentious and incompetent, and a revolt in 957 on the part of the Mercians and the Northumbrians resulted in a partition which left Edwy ruling Wessex, but Edgar (still a boy of only 14) as king in the north. Civil war was averted by the death of Edwy in 959, and Edgar ruled thereafter, with the help of long-serving and competent ealdormen whom he confirmed in office, a reunited kingdom until his death on 8 July 975. In the secular field he was remembered for his good peace (there was a lull in Viking activity) and for his laws in which, while asserting the unity of all his Christian realm, he recognized the validity of Danish social and legal customs in those parts where they had settled. Late in his reign, c.973, he was responsible for inaugurating a massive reform of the coinage, exercising full royal control through the issue of dies, increasing the number of minting places, and initiating a system of recalling and reminting the silver pennies (the sole coins in regular routine mintage). In religious matters he worked closely with St Dunstan, whom he had appointed first as bishop of Worcester, then of London, and finally as archbishop of Canterbury. Helped by the powerful bishops Æthelwold of Winchester and Oswald of Worcester, Dunstan was the inspiration behind the Benedictine reformation which greatly enriched the cultural and educational life of England. King and church worked closely together. Immediately after his coronation, itself a symbol of such co-operation into which some read virtual imperial overtones, Edgar sailed with a naval force to Chester where he received formal pledges of loyalty from a number of rulers (the Chronicle says six but later authorities eight) drawn from the Welsh, Scottish, Cumbrian, and Scandinavian communities around Britain. Later historians seize on the importance of this event and tell of a ceremonial rowing on the river Dee from the royal palace to the church of St John and back, with the king at the helm and the other rulers at the oars, a symbolic picture of the political strength of the English king.

Henry Loyn


views updated May 17 2018

Edgar (c.1074–1107), king of Scotland (1097–1107). Edgar inherited the throne in 1093 when both his father Malcolm Canmore and his elder brother Edward were killed at Alnwick. But he was at once driven out by Malcolm's half-brother Donald Bane. He was, in turn, dispossessed by Duncan, another of Malcolm's sons, but regained the throne. In 1097, with support from William Rufus, Edgar re-established himself. He relied considerably on his English allies and in 1100 his sister Matilda married Henry I. He also came to terms with Magnus, king of Norway, not disputing the Norse hold on the Western Isles. He was succeeded by his brothers Alexander I and David I.

J. A. Cannon


views updated May 23 2018

Edgar (943–75) King of England (959–75), younger son of Edmund I. In 957 he succeeded his brother Edwy as king of Mercia and Northumberland. In 958 he recalled Saint Dunstan from exile and assisted in the revival of monasticism. His coronation (973) at Bath was the first of its kind. He was succeeded by his son, Edward the Martyr. See also Danelaw


views updated May 29 2018

Edgar. 4-act opera by Puccini to lib. by F. Fontana after A. de Musset's verse-drama La Coupe et ses lèvres (1832). Comp. 1884–8. Prod. Milan 1889; NY 1956. Rev. 3-act version f.p. Ferrara 1892. Further rev. 1901, 1905 (Buenos Aires, 1905).