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About Edgar, Uncrowned King of England
Edgar or Eadgar Ætheling (c. 1051 – c. 1126) was the last male member of the royal house of Cerdic of Wessex (see House of Wessex family tree), the original ruling dynasty of England. He was proclaimed, but never crowned, King of England.
Son of Edward and Agatha
No evidence that he married
It is very uncertain if he had children, see below:
EDGAR ætheling ([1053/55]-after 1126).
After King Harold II's defeat at Hastings 14 Oct 1066, Ealdred Archbishop of York, Earls Edwin and Morcar, and the citizens of London supported Edgar as successor to King Harold II. However, his support quickly collapsed and he swore allegiance to King William "the Conqueror" at Berkhamsted, before the latter made his way to London. Florence of Worcester records that "clitonem Edgarum" went with King William to Normandy 21 Feb .
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that Edgar left England with his mother and sisters in Summer 1067 and found refuge at the court of Malcolm King of Scotland. Florence of Worcester records that "clitone Eadgaro et matre sua Agatha duabusque sororibus suis Margareta et Christina" left England for Scotland, in a passage which deals with events in mid-1068. He marched on York in 1069. He left for Flanders in exile, but returned to Scotland 8 Jul 1074. Florence of Worcester records that "clito Eadgarus" left Scotland for England in , and went to Normandy where he made peace with King William. Florence of Worcester records that "clito Eadgarus" went to Apulia with 200 knights in .
Florence of Worcester records that Edgar lived in Scotland after being expelled from Normandy by King William I, but was invited back to England by Robert Comte de Mortain in 1091 in order to negotiate peace between Malcolm King of Scotland and King William II after King Malcolm invaded Northumberland. He led the army sent by King William II to Scotland in 1097 to expel King Duncan II and install his nephew Edgar as king.
"…Edgari aederling…" subscribed the charter dated 30 Aug 1095 under which "Edgarus filius Malcolmi Regis Scottorum" made grants for the souls of "fratrum meorum Doncani et Edwardi". Florence of Worcester records that "clitorem Eadgarum" led an army to Scotland in  to place "consobrinum suum Eadgarum Malcolmi regis filium" on the Scottish throne after expelling "patruo suo Dufenaldo". Forces under his command captured Latakia in Mar 1098 before handing it to Robert III Duke of Normandy, according to Orderic Vitalis who calls Edgar "indolent". He supported Robert Duke of Normandy in his fight with his brother Henry I King of England in 1106, and was taken prisoner by the king at the battle of Tinchebrai but released soon after. The primary source which records that he was still alive in 1126 has not yet been identified.
[Mistress (1): ---. No record has been found that Edgar ætheling ever married. However, the 1157 Pipe Roll entry quoted below suggests that he may have had descendants. If this is correct, it is probable that it was an illegitimate line as there is no record of their having claimed the throne.
[Edgar had one [illegitimate] child by Mistress (1)]:
i) [---. This descent is completely speculative. However, the most obvious explanation for the 1157 Pipe Roll entry quoted below is that Edgar ætheling left descendants, presumably through an illegitimate child as there is no record of their having claimed the throne. m ---.] One child:
(a) [EDGAR "Ætheling" . The 1157 Pipe Roll records "Edgar Ætheling" in Northumberland. If his descent from Edgar ætheling is correct, it would be consistent from a chronological point of view if Edgar was the senior Edgar´s grandson.]
Family and early life
Edgar was born in Hungary, where his father Edward the Exile, son of King Edmund II Ironside, had spent most of his life, having fled to safety abroad after Edmund's death and the conquest of England by the Danish king Cnut in 1016. His mother was Agatha, who was described as a relative of the German Emperor, but whose exact identity is unknown. He was his parents' only son but had two sisters, Margaret and Cristina.
In 1057 the childless King of England, Edmund Ironside's half-brother Edward the Confessor, who had only recently become aware that his nephew was still alive, summoned Edward back to England with his family to take up his place at court as heir to the throne. The returning exile died in uncertain circumstances shortly after his arrival in England. Edgar, still a small child, was left as the only surviving male member of the royal dynasty apart from the king. However, the latter made no recorded effort to entrench his grand-nephew's position as heir to a throne which was being eyed by a range of powerful potential contenders including England's leading aristocrat Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex and the foreign rulers William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, King Sweyn II Estrithson of Denmark and King Harald III Hardrada of Norway.
The succession struggle
When King Edward died in January 1066 Edgar was still only 14 years of age, too young to be an effective military leader. This had not previously been an insurmountable obstacle: the earlier Kings of England Eadwig, Edgar and Edward the Martyr had all come to the throne at a similar age, while Aethelred II Unraed had been significantly younger at his accession. However, the avaricious ambitions which had been aroused across north-western Europe by Edward the Confessor's lack of an heir prior to 1057, and by the king's failure thereafter to prepare the way for Edgar to succeed him, removed any prospect of a peaceful hereditary succession. Edgar was also without powerful adult relatives to champion his cause. War was clearly inevitable and Edgar was in no position to fight it. Accordingly, the Witanagemot elected Harold Godwinson, the man best placed to defend the country against the competing foreign claimants, to succeed Edward.
Following Harold's death at the Battle of Hastings against the invading Normans in October, the Witanagemot assembled in London and elected Edgar king. The new regime thus established was dominated by the most powerful surviving members of the English elite, Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ealdred, Archbishop of York and the brothers Edwin, Earl of Mercia and Morcar, Earl of Northumbria. The commitment to Edgar's cause of these men, who had so recently passed over his claim to the throne without apparent demur, must have been doubtful from the start. The strength of their resolve to continue the struggle against William of Normandy was questionable and the military response they organised to the continuing Norman advance was ineffectual. When William crossed the Thames at Wallingford he was met by Stigand, who now abandoned Edgar and submitted to the invader. As the Normans closed in on London Edgar's remaining supporters caved in and in late November or early December they took the young uncrowned king out to meet William and submit to him at Berkhamsted, quietly setting aside Edgar's election.
Exile and war against the Normans
William kept Edgar in his custody and took him, along with other English leaders, to his court in Normandy in 1067, before returning with them to England. Edgar may have been involved in the abortive rebellion of the Earls Edwin and Morcar in 1068; in any case, in that year he fled with his mother and sisters to the court of King Malcolm III Canmore of Scotland. Malcolm married Edgar's sister Margaret and agreed to support Edgar in his attempt to reclaim the English throne. When a major rebellion broke out in Northumbria at the beginning of 1069, Edgar returned to England with other rebels who had fled to Scotland, to become the leader, or at least the figurehead, of the revolt. However, after early successes the rebels were defeated by William at York and Edgar again sought refuge with Malcolm. In late summer that year the arrival of a fleet sent by King Sweyn of Denmark triggered a fresh wave of English uprisings in various parts of the country. Edgar and the other exiles sailed to the Humber, where they linked up with Northumbrian rebels and the Danes. Their combined forces overwhelmed the Normans at York and took control of Northumbria, but a small seaborne raid which Edgar led into Lincolnshire ended in disaster and he escaped with only a handful of followers to rejoin the main army. Late in the year William fought his way into Northumbria and occupied York, buying off the Danes and devastating the surrounding country. Early in 1070 he moved against Edgar and other English leaders who had taken refuge with their remaining followers in a marshy region, perhaps Holderness, and put them to flight. Edgar returned to Scotland.
He remained there until 1072, when William invaded Scotland and forced King Malcolm to submit to his overlordship. The terms of the agreement between them probably included the expulsion of Edgar. He therefore took up residence in Flanders, whose count, Robert the Frisian, was hostile to the Normans. However, in 1074 he was able to return to Scotland. Shortly after his arrival there he received an offer from King Philip I of France, who was also at odds with William, of a castle and lands near the borders of Normandy from which he would be able to raid his enemies' homeland. He embarked with his followers for France, but a storm wrecked their ships on the English coast. Many of Edgar's men were hunted down by the Normans, but he managed to escape with the remainder to Scotland by land. Following this disaster, he was persuaded by Malcolm to make his peace with William and return to England as his subject, abandoning any ambition of regaining his ancestral throne.
The Italian venture
Disappointed in the level of recompense and respect he received from William, in 1085 Edgar secured the king's permission to emigrate with a retinue of two hundred knights, to seek his fortune in the expanding Norman colony in southern Italy and Sicily. The Domesday Book, compiled the following year, records only two estates in Hertfordshire with a total value of £10 p.a. as belonging to Edgar, an extremely small allocation of property for a man of his standing and much less than was held by his sister Cristina, the income from whose estates was valued at £58. This is probably because Edgar had given up his English properties when he left for Italy, not meaning to return. In that case the recording of the Hertfordshire estates under his name is probably an anomaly, reflecting a situation which had recently ceased to apply.
Norman and Scottish dynastic strife
The venture in the Mediterranean was evidently not a success, since within a few years Edgar had in fact returned. After King William's death in 1087 Edgar supported William's eldest son Robert Curthose, who succeeded him as Duke of Normandy, against his second son, William Rufus, who received the throne of England as William II. The war waged by Robert and his allies to overthrow William ended in defeat in 1091. As part of the resulting settlement between the brothers, Edgar was deprived of lands which he had been granted by Robert. These were presumably former possessions of William and his supporters in Normandy, confiscated by Robert and distributed to his own followers, including Edgar, but restored to their previous owners by the terms of the peace agreement. The disgruntled Edgar travelled once again to Scotland, where Malcolm was preparing for war with William. However, when William marched north and the two armies confronted one another the kings opted to talk rather than fight. The negotiations were conducted by Edgar on behalf of Malcolm and the newly reconciled Robert Curthose on behalf of William. The resulting agreement included a reconciliation between William and Edgar.
Having consequently returned to England, in 1093 Edgar went to Scotland again on a diplomatic mission for William to negotiate with Malcolm, who was dissatisfied with the Norman failure to implement in full the terms of the 1091 treaty. This dispute led to war and within the year Malcolm had invaded England and been killed along with his eldest son in the Battle of Alnwick. Malcolm's successor, his brother Donald Bán, drove out the English and French retainers who had risen high in Malcolm's service and had thus aroused the jealousy of the existing Scottish aristocracy. This purge brought him into conflict with the Anglo-Norman monarchy, whose influence in Scotland it had diminished. William helped Malcolm's eldest son Duncan, who had spent many years as a hostage at William I's court and remained there when set at liberty by William II, to overthrow his uncle, but Donald soon regained the throne and Duncan was killed. In 1097 another effort to restore the Anglo-Norman interest through sponsorship of Malcolm's sons was launched and Edgar made yet another journey to Scotland, this time in command of an invading army. Donald was ousted and Edgar installed his nephew and namesake, Malcolm and Margaret's son Edgar, on the Scottish throne.
 The First Crusade
The historian Orderic Vitalis claimed that Edgar was the leader of an English fleet which sailed into the Mediterranean and operated off the coast of Syria in support of the First Crusade, whose crews eventually burned their dilapidated ships and joined the advance by land to Jerusalem. However, this fleet is known to have arrived off the Syrian coast by March 1098. Given that Edgar's invasion of Scotland had been launched late in 1097, he could not have left after its completion and made such a long voyage in the time available, although it is just conceivable that he could have travelled rapidly to the Mediterranean by land and made a rendezvous with the fleet as it passed eastwards. William of Malmesbury recorded that Edgar made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1102 and it is likely that Orderic's report is the product of confusion, conflating the expedition of the English fleet with Edgar's later journey. Some modern historians have suggested that at some point during these years Edgar served in the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Empire, a unit which was at this time composed primarily of English emigrants, but this is unsupported by evidence.
Back in Europe, Edgar again took the side of Robert Curthose in the internal struggles of the Norman dynasty, this time against Robert's youngest brother who was now King Henry I of England. He was taken prisoner in the final defeat at the Battle of Tinchebrai in 1106, which resulted in Robert being imprisoned for the rest of his life. Edgar was more fortunate: having been taken back to England he was pardoned and released by King Henry. His niece Edith (renamed Matilda), daughter of Malcolm III and Margaret, had married Henry in 1100. Edgar is believed to have travelled to Scotland once more late in life, perhaps around the year 1120, and was still alive in 1125, but may have died soon afterward, in his early seventies.
There is no evidence that Edgar had married or produced children. His death thus extinguished the male line of the original royal family of England.
Heir to the Saxon Kings of England. Fled from William the Conqueror.
- Edgar, from an illuminated tree of the family of Edmund Ironside
King of the English (disputed) Reign 15 October – 10 December 1066 Coronation Never crowned Predecessor Harold Godwinson Successor William the Conqueror Born c. 1051 Hungary Died c. 1126 (aged c. 75) House House of Wessex Father Edward the Exile Mother Agatha
- Edgar Ætheling (also spelt Æþeling, Aetheling, Atheling or Etheling) or Edgar II (c. 1051 – c. 1126) was the last male member of the royal house of Cerdic of Wessex (see House of Wessex family tree). He was proclaimed, but never crowned, King of England in 1066.