Edward the Elder, King of the Anglo-Saxons, was born circa 870 to Alfred the Great (849-899) and Ealhswith (c852-905) and died 17 July 924 of unspecified causes. He married Ecgwynn (c875-) 893 JL in Wessex. He married Ælfflæd (c880-) 899 JL in Wessex. He married Eadgifu of Kent (c902-968) 919 JL in Wessex. Alfred the Great (849-899).

Edward the Elder, King of the Anglo-Saxons succeeded his father, Alfred the Great (849-899), as King of Wessex: 899-924, and proceeded to carry on Alfred's work in fighting the Danes and extending the dominion of Wessex over England. He took possession of East Anglia and Mercia. His lordship was at various times recognized by the Northumbrians, the Welsh, the Scots and the Britons of Strathclyde.


House of Wessex

Golden Wyvern of Wessex

He was of the royal English dynasty called House of Wessex, a family originating in the southwest corner of England and gradually increased in power and prestiege. The House became rulers of all the country with the reign of Alfred the Great in 871 and lasting until Edmund Ironside in 1016. This period of the English monarchy is known as the Saxon period.

Reign of Edward

Edward the Elder (Old English: Eadweard cyning) was an English king. He became king in 899 upon the death of his father, Alfred the Great (849-899). His court was at Winchester, previously the capital of Wessex. He captured the eastern Midlands and East Anglia from the Danes in 917 and became ruler of Mercia in 918 upon the death of Æthelflæd, his sister.

All but two of his charters give his title as "Anglorum Saxonum rex" or "king of the Anglo-Saxons". He was the second king of the Anglo-Saxons as this title was created by Alfred. Edward's coinage reads "EADVVEARD REX." The chroniclers record that all England "accepted Edward as lord" in 920.

Compared to his father, Edward is a shadowy figure, even though he was a great soldier, show military achievements probably outshone those of Alfred. By the end of his reign his dynasty had dominance of all of England south of the Humber, but still faced heavy preasure from Irish-Norse forces to the north.


903 Æthelwold's Revolt

Shortly after gaining the throne, Edward had to withstand a revolt by his cousin, Æthelwold (c868-902), son of his father's older brother, and claimant to the throne. Æthelwold drew support from the Danes of Northumbria and the East Anglia, but his attempt to seize the throne ended with his death in battle at The Holme in Cambridgeshire, about 903.

910 Overthrow of Danes

Edward was able to form a Christian alliance with the Kingdom of Mercia because his sister, Æthelflæd (c872-918), the Lady of the Mercians, was married to Æthelred, the ealdorman of Mercia. With a key victory at Tettenhall in Staffordshire in 910 they were able to beat back the Danes to sieze the Midlands and parts of Southeastern England for their alliance.

918 King of Mercia

After the death of his sister, Æthelflæd (c872-918), the Lady of the Mercians, in 918 Edward became ruler of all Mercia, but faced a short-lived revolt from her daughter, Ælfwynn.

He gained another victory over the Danes in battle at Tempsford in Bedfordshire.

Marriage and Family

Edward the Elder had close to 18 children, include 3 future kings, Athelstan (895-939), Edmund the Magnificent, and Eadred of Wessex (c924-955).

1st Marriage: Ecqwynn

Edward married for the first time to Ecgwynn (c875-) in 893 and two years later she gave birth to his successor: Athelstan (895-939), but they separated by the time Edward became king in 901.

  1. Athelstan (895-939) - first son to succeed his father as King of England (ruled 924-939). Died unmarried, no issue.
  2. Edith the Poleworth (c896-) - A daughter who married Sihtric Cáech, Viking king of Dublin (917-920) and then King of York (920-927).


Offspring of Edward of Wessex and Ecgwynn (c875-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Athelstan (895-939) 895 Wessex 27 October 929 Gloucestershire, England
Edith the Poleworth (c896-) 896 England 9999 Ireland Sitric Cáech (c890-927)

2nd Marriage: Ælfflæd of Wiltshire

In 899, Edward married Ælfflæd (c880-), a daughter of Æthelhelm, the ealdorman of Wiltshire. Two daughters, Eadflæd as a nun and Æthelhild as a lay sister, joined their mother at Wilton Abbey.

Eadgifu outlived her husband and her sons, and was alive during the reign of her grandson, King Edgar. William of Malmsbury's history De antiquitate Glastonie ecclesiae claims that Edward's second wife, Ælfflæd, was also alive after Edward's death, but this is the only known source for that claim.

Their children were

  1. Eadgifu of Wessex (902-aft955) who married Charles the Simple (879-929) Carolingian, King of Western Francia, King of Lotharingia, a great, great grandson of Charlemagne (747-814). In 951, she was abducted from a convent and married to Herbert III de Vermandois (c913-c982), to the great anger of her son.
  2. Ælfweard of Wessex (904–924) - whose death occurred 16 days after Edward's. Later sources sometimes portray him as Edward's successor, at least in part of the kingdom.
  3. Eadgyth of Wessex (910-946) who married Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
  4. Eadhilda of Wessex (-937) - one of two daughter to marry the French ruler, Hugh the Great (898-956), but had no issue by him.
  5. Ælfgifu who married "a prince near the Alps", sometimes identified with Conrad of Burgundy or # Boleslaus II of Bohemia or Boleslaus I, Duke of Bohemia
  6. Eadflæd, who became a nun and first Abbess of Romsey Abbey
  7. Edwin Ætheling (c912-933) - drowned at sea.


Offspring of Edward of Wessex and Ælfflæd (c880-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Ælfweard of Wessex (904–924) 904 Wessex, England 2 August 924 Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Eadgifu of Wessex (902-aft955) 902 955 Charles the Simple (879-929) Charles the Simple (879-929) Herbert III de Vermandois (c913-c982)
Eadgyth of Wessex (910-946) 910 26 January 946 Otto I von Sachsen (912-973)
Eadhilda of Wessex (-937) 937 Hugh the Great (898-956)
Ælfgifu of Wessex (-)
Eadflæd of Wessex (-)
Edwin Ætheling (c912-933) 912 Wessex, England 933 England

3rd Marriage: Eadgifu

Edward married for a third time, about 919, to Eadgifu of Kent (c902-968), the daughter of Sigehelm, the ealdorman of Kent. Their children were:

  1. Edmund of Wessex (922-946) - Future king of England (ruled 939-946)
  2. Eadred of Wessex (c924-955) - Future king of England (ruled (946-955) - succeeded by the son of his brother Edmund.
  3. Edburga of Winchester (c925-960) - Saint Edburga of Winchester (died 960)
  4. Eadgifu, married "Louis, Prince of Aquitaine", whose identity is disputed, as is the very existence of this daughter.


Offspring of Edward of Wessex and Eadgifu of Kent (c902-968)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Edmund of Wessex (922-946) 922 England, United Kingdom (Wessex) 26 May 946 Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury (-944) Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury (-944) Æthelflæd of Damerham (c925-c975)
Eadred of Wessex (c924-955) 923 Wessex, England 23 November 955 Frome, Somerset, England
Edburga of Winchester (c925-960) 925 Wessex, England 15 June 960




Footnotes (including sources)