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Edward

Edward (d. 924), king of England (899–924), known as ‘the Elder’. The reign of Edward the Elder falls neatly into two parts. Up to 910 when he won a decisive victory against the Danes at Tettenhall in Staffordshire, Edward was involved first in suppressing a revolt led by his cousin Æthelwold, who drew support from the Danes settled in East Anglia, and then in efforts to keep the peace with Danish forces active from their bases in Northumbria and East Anglia. After Tettenhall narrative accounts chart a period of almost uninterrupted progress, which left Edward in effective command of all England south of the Humber. In the north of England he was not so successful. A Viking kingdom was set up at York which offered at most a vague recognition of overlordship to him, and a strong element of Irish/Norse colonization was intruded into Cumbria and modern Lancashire. His success was possible partly because of the readiness of Danes, settled into the countryside now for a generation or more, to submit to a strong legitimate king who could offer peace, and partly due to the active co-operation achieved between the West Saxons and the Mercians. Edward worked well first with his brother-in-law Æthelred, ealdorman of Mercia, and then after his death in 911 with his widow, Edward's own sister Æthelfleda, the formidable ‘lady of the Mercians’. The co-operation had its uneasy moments. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle implies that only after Æthelred's death did Edward take direct control of London and Oxford. On Æthelfleda's death in 918 some local Mercian attempt, quickly suppressed, was made to rally support behind her daughter Ælfwynn. Even at the end of his reign Edward was forced to campaign against the men of Chester who had formed an alliance with the Welsh. But by and large the success of Edward and Æthelfleda in reabsorbing much of the Danelaw did much to cement the Christian English into a common unity under the West Saxon ruling house. An outstanding feature of their campaigns was the implementation of what can best be termed a ‘burghal’ policy, that is to say the setting up of fortified defences at towns or rudimentary towns manned by forces drawn from surrounding estates according to a fixed system of assessment, each pole (5½ yards) of wall to be protected by four men. The origins of the system go back to Alfred's day, and a document dating from Edward's early years, the so-called ‘Burghal Hidage’, gives details of its implementation for some 30 or so ‘burghs’, mostly in a great sweep of country defending greater Wessex. Extension now took place and burhs were built or repaired (where existing fortifications already existed) at places such as Hertford, Witham, Buckingham, Bedford, Maldon, Towcester (specially defended by a stone wall), Tempsford, and Colchester by Edward, and at Bridgnorth, Tamworth, Stafford, Warwick, and Runcorn by Æthelfleda, who also took the Danish borough at Derby. The establishment of safe strongholds of this nature, keyed into the landed wealth of the community, were of vital importance to the creation of permanent effective royal administration, essential for the legal and financial as well as the military health of the kingdom. They represent an important stage in the setting up, on the West Saxon model, of the midland shires, based on shire towns such as Hertford, Buckingham, or Stafford.

At various points in his reign Edward also had his overlordship recognized by Welsh princes, Scottish rulers, by the Britons of Strathclyde, and by still independent Northumbrian noblemen exercising authority at Bamburgh, but his major contribution to the ultimate achievement of English unity rested on military and institutional success south of the Humber.

Henry Loyn

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Edward

Edward (d. 978), king of England (975–8), known as ‘the Martyr’. On the sudden death of Edgar, 8 July 975, succession to the throne was far from clear, and parties formed around his two young sons, Edward, then aged about 13, and Edward's half-brother Æthelred, who was probably only 7 or 8. Edward was eventually accepted and the two or three years of his reign were marked by a check to the lavish endowments made to monasteries by his father (not necessarily an anti-monastic policy as such). Later authorities speak of the young king as unstable and violent, but all was overshadowed by the manner of his death. On a visit to his young brother and stepmother at Corfe in Dorset on 18 March 978 (just possibly 979) he was treacherously stabbed to death in cold blood by his brother's retainers. It is possible that some of Æthelred's weakness may be attributed to the moral blight thrown on him and his mother Queen Ælfthryth as a result of this murder. Edward was buried without due honour at Wareham, though his body was later translated to Shaftesbury. Popular opinion, encouraged no doubt by the nuns at Shaftesbury, postulated his sanctity and the anniversary of his death, 18 March, was set aside as his commemoration day in the legislation of Æthelred.

Henry Loyn

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Edward

Edward male forename; name of two English saints.
St Edward the Confessor (c. 1003–66), the son of Ethelred the Unready and his second wife Emma of Normandy, king of England 1042–66. Famed for his piety, Edward rebuilt Westminster Abbey, where he was eventually buried. He is sometimes shown with a ring which according to legend he gave to a beggar; subsequently English pilgrims in the Holy Land (or India) encountered an old man who said that he was St John the Apostle, and who gave them back the ring, telling them to return it to the king, and warn him that he would die in six months' time. His feast day is 13 October.
St Edward the Martyr (c.963–78), the son of Edgar, king of England 975–8. Edward was faced by a challenge for the throne from supporters of his half-brother, Ethelred, who eventually had him murdered at Corfe Castle in Dorset. His emblem is a dagger, symbol of his martyrdom. His feast day is 18 March.

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Lawes, Lewis Edward

Lewis Edward Lawes, 1883–1947, American penologist, b. Elmira, N.Y. As warden (1920–41) of Sing Sing Prison, a New York state prison located at Ossining, N.Y., he carried out many reforms, advocating vocational training for convicts and the abolition of capital punishment. Twenty Thousand Years in Sing Sing (1932) is the best known of his books.

See study by R. Blumenthal (2004).

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Edward

Edward •landward • backward •Edward, headward •hellward • heavenward • leftward •northwestward, southwestward, westward •wayward •leeward, seaward •eastward, northeastward, southeastward •windward • inward • cityward •skyward • sideward • rightward •onward •forward, henceforward, shoreward, straightforward, thenceforward •awkward • northward •downward, townward •outward • southward • poleward •homeward • oceanward • Woodward •sunward • upward • frontward •rearward • afterward • earthward •halyard •lanyard, Spaniard •untenured • steelyard • vineyard •poniard •haphazard, hazard, mazzard •blizzard, gizzard, izard, lizard, vizard, wizard •buzzard

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Edward

Edward (c.1005–66), king of England (1042–66), known as ‘the Confessor’. Edward was born at Islip (Oxon.), the first recorded child of Æthelred's second marriage. His mother was Emma (Ælfgifu), the daughter of Richard I, count of Normandy (d. 996), and sister of the powerful Richard II (996–1026). During the Danish conquest of England, Edward took refuge in Normandy, initially in 1013, and then, together with his younger brother Alfred, on a more permanent basis from 1016. Emma married King Cnut in 1017, and seems to have been influential in Edward's recall from the long Norman exile in 1041 in the reign of Harthacnut, her son by Cnut: and in the following year Edward succeeded his half-brother on the throne with general approval. He proved far from the weak and pious nincompoop portrayed by some historians, and should be given full credit for keeping his kingdom intact in troubled times for close on a quarter of a century, for reconciling the English and Danish elements in the aristocracy, and for accustoming England to regular cultural and political contact with continental Europe, especially with Normandy and with the papacy. He intruded some Norman favourites into the English Church and state, but not to excess, apart possibly for a brief period, 1051–2, and generally succeeded in maintaining a balance at his court. It is true nevertheless that the politics of his reign was dominated by his relationship with one of the most extraordinary families in English history, that of Earl Godwine of Wessex, whose daughter Eadgyth married Edward in 1045. Godwine's five sons, Sweyn, Harold, Tostig, Leofwine, and Gyrth, all achieved the rank and office of earl, and Harold succeeded his brother-in-law as king in 1066. Much of the credit for the effective military defence of the realm and the pacification of the border with Wales must go to the Godwine family, especially Harold, but the king remained their superior, active in the creation and shuffling of the earldoms and in ecclesiastical matters, and by no means a passive symbol of royalty. Indeed in 1051 as a result of quarrels involving the exercise of both secular and ecclesiastical authority Edward was able to enforce the exile of the whole Godwine family, and although they returned under arms in the autumn of 1052 they did not do so unconditionally. In their absence Edward had indulged in a degree of Normanization. There is evidence, not utterly conclusive but strong, to suggest that Duke William of Normandy, his young kinsman (his mother's great-nephew), may have visited him in England in late 1051 when some loose accord may have been reached over the Norman duke's right to claim succession to the childless Edward. Godwine's return prompted reaction. Robert of Jumièges, whose promotion to the see of Canterbury in mid-Lent 1051 had caused disaffection, was in turn exiled and replaced by Stigand, a candidate favoured by the Godwines, but other appointments remained in being, notably that of the influential William, bishop of London, who remained in office until his death in 1075. Earl Godwine himself died in dramatic circumstances at Easter 1053, not long after his return. He is said to have declared on solemn oath that he was guiltless of the death of Edward's brother (murdered in an abortive attempt to lay claim to England in 1036), and then choked to death on the holy wafer taken to confirm his oath. After Godwine's death, Edward affirmed his overlordship in quite spectacular fashion, sending Harold on an embassy, and recalling from Hungary his own nephew and namesake Edward the Atheling, presumably again as a possible heir. Edward's skill in exploiting doubt over the succession must be ranked among his most formidable diplomatic achievements. Prince Edward died before he could even greet the king, but his children, Edgar Atheling (who lived on to the 1120s) and Margaret, queen of Scotland, proved potent pawns deep into the Norman age. The last decade or so of Edward's reign was a period of relative prosperity. The earls, those drawn from the Mercian house of Leofric and the Northumbrian house of Siward as well as the Godwines, remained powerful regional commanders but still subject to appointment and removal by king and council. Local government functioned effectively through a network of courts in shires, hundreds, and wapentakes, and urban life flourished, notably in London and Winchester. Tax systems and coinage were advanced, sophisticated, and efficient for the age. In church affairs the appointment of able clerics such as Wulfstan of Worcester (1062–95), and the influence of Ealdred, bishop of Worcester (1044–62) and archbishop of York (1061–9), counterbalanced the dubious nature of Stigand at Canterbury. Edward himself remained active almost to the end of his life, planning hunting expeditions in the Bristol channel area in the summer of 1065, and hunting with Tostig in Wiltshire as late as the autumn. An outbreak of rebellion in Northumbria in October, resulting in the exile of Tostig, caused the king much grief and seems to have precipitated his final illness. He had spent much personal energy and treasure on the rebuilding of Westminster abbey, deeply influenced by similar ventures in characteristic new Romanesque style at Jumièges in Normandy, but was too sick to attend the dedication on 28 December. He died in the first week of 1066, on 4 or 5 January, and was buried in the abbey. His posthumous reputation was distorted by the nature and needs of the Norman Conquest. The Normans pointed back to his reign as a golden age in the recent past, while king Harold was dismissed as a usurper and oath-breaker. William himself claimed direct legitimate succession in kingly office from Edward, and Domesday Book used ‘the time of King Edward’ as its standard temporal test for legal rights and tenure. In the 12th cent. Edward became something of a symbol of reconciliation between Norman and English. His reputation as a lawgiver, largely unmerited, became great, and his personal piety (including an unlikely attribution of celibacy within marriage) exaggerated. Westminster abbey had a special interest in him which the monks exploited to the full. In 1161, after earlier attempts had failed, Edward was canonized by Pope Alexander III. The by-name ‘the Confessor’ persisted, that is to say one who suffered for his faith, though short of martyrdom, even though initially it was given merely to differentiate him from his half-uncle Edward the Martyr. Henry III fostered his cult, rebuilding Westminster abbey and naming his son and heir Edward. There was every likelihood that he would be adopted as the patron saint of England until more militant elements ousted him in favour of the soldier St George.

Henry Loyn

Bibliography

Barlow, F. , Edward the Confessor (1970);
Clarke, P. A. , The English Nobility under Edward the Confessor (Oxford, 1994).

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