Edgar the Atheling

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Edgar II Ætheling
Edgar, from an illuminated tree of the family of Edmund Ironside
King of England (disputed)
Reign 15 October – 10 December 1066
Coronation never crowned
Predecessor Harold II
Successor William I
House House of Wessex
Father Edward of England
Mother Agatha
Born c 1051
Hungary
Died c 1126 (aged c 75)
unknown

Edgar the Atheling (or Edgar the Ætheling, c. 1051– c. 1126) was an heir to the throne of England in 1066, when Edward the Confessor died.[1] He was also the most popular choice among the people, because he was English and a grandson of Edmund Ironside. He was born in Hungary because his father was in exile there.

When Edgar was five, his father returned to England from Hungary after being sent away during the Viking Cnut's reign. Soon after returning, Edgar’s father died.

Edward the Confessor, who had no children, had promised the throne to his nephew Edgar, his nearest living relative. The problem was that Edward had also promised the throne to other people at various times, including William I Duke of Normandy. When Edward died, they began to fight wars over it.

The Anglo-Saxons had a democratic monarchy, meaning that their kings had to be approved by vote in an elected parliament (witanegemot) before they could become king. The first thing the witanegemot did was choose Edward's brother-in-law, Harold Godwinson to be the next king, because Edgar was roughly 14 at the time. When William killed Harold at the battle of Hastings that same year, the witanegemot chose Edgar as the next king, but William took control of England with his army before Edgar could be crowned. Edgar eventually escaped to Scotland with his sister, known as Saint Margaret of Scotland, who married the Scottish king. From here he took part in several military campaigns against William, and later on also took part in the Crusades.

It is thought he was the last living male member of the Anglo-Saxon royalty.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. "Atheling" means "son of a noble" aedel in the Old English language.