Edmund II of England

Edmund II "Ironside"
King of England
Edmund II
Reign April 23, 1016 - November 30, 1016
Born 989
Wessex, England
Died November 30, 1016
Buried Glastonbury Abbey
Married Edith
Parents Ethelred II

Edmund II or Eadmund II (c. 988/993 - November 30, 1016), King of England from April 23 to November 30, 1016, was surnamed "Ironside" for his efforts to fend off the Danish invasion led by King Canute.


Edmund was the second son of King Æthelred II and his first wife, Ælflaed of Northumbria. He had three brothers, the elder being Æthelstan, and the younger two being Ædred and Ecgbert. His mother was dead by 996, and his father remarried twice more.

Æthelstan died in 1014, leaving Edmund as heir. A power-struggle began between Edmund and his father, and in 1015 King Æthelred had two of Edmund's allies, Sigeferth and Morcar, executed. Edmund then took Sigeferth's widow, Ældgyth, 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.

Royal and military history

Upon the death of Æthelred II, who had earlier been stricken ill, on April 23, 1016, with little support from the London nobility, Edmund succeeded to the throne. Canute, however, enjoyed greater support throughout England, especially from the Southampton nobility.

When Edmund forcefully recovered Wessex from Canute's previous invasion in 1015, Canute responded by laying siege to London; however, Edmund's defence was successful. Despite the victory, conflict continued until Edmund was defeated, but not killed, on October 18 by Canute at Ashingdon in Essex. The site of the battle is given as Assandun in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and recent research suggests that this in fact refers to Ashdon, in north Essex, some two miles to the east of Saffron Walden. 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 of natural causes in Oxford or London, and his territories were ceded to Canute who then became king of England. Edmund was buried at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset.


Edmund had two children by Ældgyth: Edward the Exile and Edmund, who both escaped to Hungary.

Shakespearean play?

Edmund Ironside is also the name of an anonymous play in the Shakespeare Apocrypha, it has been attributed to Shakespeare on stylistic grounds.[1] Plays in the Shakespeare Apocrypha are not generally accepted as Shakespearean.[2]


  • Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
  • Clemoes, Peter. The Anglo-Saxons: Studies Presented to Bruce Dickins, 1959


  1. ^ Sams, Eric. (1986). Shakespeare's "Edmund Ironside": The Lost Play. Wildwood Ho. ISBN 0704505479
  2. ^ Two Tough Nuts to Crack: Did Shakespeare Write the Shakespeare Portions of Sir Thomas More and Edward III? By Ward E. Y. Elliott and Robert J. Valenza, Claremont McKenna College.

Preceded by:
Ethelred II
King of England
Succeeded by:
Monarchs of England
Alfred | Edward the Elder | Ethelweard | Athelstan | Edmund I | Edred | Edwy | Edgar I | Edward the Martyr | Ethelred | Sweyn I*† | Edmund II | Canute*† | Harthacanute* | Harold I | Edward the Confessor | Harold II | Edgar II | William I | William II | Henry I | Stephen | Matilda | Henry II | Richard I | John | Henry III | Edward I | Edward II | Edward III | Richard II | Henry IV | Henry V | Henry VI | Edward IV | Edward V | Richard III | Henry VII | Henry VIII‡ | Edward VI‡ | Jane‡ | Mary I‡ | Elizabeth I‡ | James I‡§ | Charles I‡§ | Interregnum | Charles II‡§ | James II‡§ | William III‡§¶ and Mary II‡§ | Anne‡§
* Also Monarch of Denmark | † Also Monarch of Norway | ‡Also Monarch of Ireland | § Also Monarch of Scotland | ¶ Also Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel and Drenthe

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