Eadric Streona, Earl of Mercia

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Eadric Streona, Earl of Mercia's Geni Profile

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Eadric Streona, Earl of Mercia

Birthdate: (25)
Birthplace: England/Mercia
Death: Died
Cause of death: Killed by King Canute
Place of Burial: River Thames, England
Immediate Family:

Husband of Eadgyth, Lady Of Mercia

Occupation: Ealdorman of Mercia
Managed by: Noah Tutak
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Eadric Streona, Earl of Mercia

Eadric or Edric Streona (died 1017) was an ealdorman of the Saxon Mercians. "Streona" appears to have meant "the Grasper".


Royal favour

According to Florence of Worcester, Eadric was of non-noble birth but advanced to high dignity through the favour of the English Saxon King Ethelred the Unready. However the Anglo Saxon Chronicle states that his brother was Brihtric (aka "Beorhtric"), and Wulfnoth Cild was Brihtric's nephew. Wulfnoth's father was Aethelmaer se Greata (usually translated as "the Great", but more correctly "the Fat") and he was the son of Aethelweard the Historian, a descendant of Ethelred I. Florence was probably insulting Eadric. William of Malmesbury describes Eadric Streona as "the refuse of mankind and a reproach unto the English". Other parentage advanced for Eadric are Wulfric Spot (which would make Aelfhelm of York whom he assassinated, his own uncle) or Aethelric, Ealdorman of Mercia who was his predecessor as Ealdorman. Since he was sacked in disgrace (due to betraying naval secrets to the Danes) and his son Aelfgar blinded, this is very unlikely.

In 1007, he became Ealdorman of the Mercians, and subsequently married Ethelred's daughter Eadgyth. As Ealdorman, Eadric achieved a victory over the Welsh, for reasons unknown to history. (See the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). He is described by Sir Frank Stenton as someone "to whom unknown crimes may be safely attributed". He appears to have endeared himself to Ethelred II - to whom he was (on the whole) loyal - by arranging the assassinations of his internal opponents.


In the struggle between the English and the Danes, he appears in the character of an arch-traitor. When Ethelred in 1009 proposed a great attack on the Danes, Eadric dissuaded him from carrying it into effect. Again, on the invasion of the Kingdom of England by Canute the Great in 1015, Eadric deserted Edmund II of England and joined Canute. After the Battle of Otford he returned to Edmund, but only by his treachery at the Battle of Ashingdon to secure the utter defeat of the national Saxon cause. He is said to have killed a soldier who looked like Edmund II (Ironside) and held up his head, only to realise his mistake (despite being supposedly on the same side). Eadric appears to have acted as a go-between for Ethelred and the Danes, attempting to rescue St. Alphege ("Alfheah") in 1012 by collecting a ransom. He was probably involved in other payments of Danegeld, as his (probable) father Aethelweard the Historian and Bishop Alphege were extensively involved in diplomacy with the Danes. Subsequent to the unauthorised murder of St. Alphege at Greenwich by Thorkell the Tall's men, Thorkell defected to Ethelred, possibly through Eadric's agency.

Although loyal to Ethelred, he had a personal enmity towards Ethelred's son Edmund Ironside, who favoured a confrontational policy towards the Danes, while Eadric Streona was a major proponent of the payment of Danegeld (and no doubt the opportunities for corruption it offered).

This was sealed when Edmund rebelled against his father and married Aelgifu, the daughter of one of Eadric Streona's victim's in his role as Ethelred's hitman, giving him a northern power base. Despite his policy of appeasement, he is said to have persuaded Ethelred to undertake the genocide of Danish civilians in the St. Brice's Day Massacre - although this is uncertain - prompting Sir Frank Stenton's epigraphic footnote about him being the usual suspect for unknown crimes.


King Canute restored to Eadric the Earldom of Mercia. During Canute's reign, Eadric accompanied the Queen consort Emma of Normandy, widow of Ethelred and wife of Canute, to the Duchy of Normandy. At Christmas 1017, fearing further treachery, Canute had Eadric slain ("very rightly" according to the Saxon Chronicle). According to the Encomium Emmae, Eric of Hlathir performed the execution. This is said to have been as a result of Eadric beating Canute at chess and refusing (evidently unwisely) to change the rules in Canute's favour. During the ensuing row, Eadric is said to have argued that he had assassinated King Edmund Ironside for Canute's benefit - a fact of which Canute had been unaware - and Canute had him executed on the spot. The later chronicler Geoffrey Gaimar relates the story of Edmund Ironside being murdered on the privy by the sons of Eadric Streona, using a crossbow positioned in the midden pit to fire through the toilet seat. It is said that the missile passed so far into his body that it could not be extracted. The first reference to crossbows in England was from a record of wages paid to crossbowmen at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. However, Eadric Streona was at this time a close associate of one of the Jomvikings, Thorkell the Tall, who had fought in the Battle of Hjorungavagr in 985, in which a primitive crossbow known as the Skåne Lockbow was used, and so might have had access to such an infernal device.

Eadric Streona's head was said to have been placed on London Bridge and his body thrown into the Thames. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle adds (rather uncharitably): "and it was rightly done".


William of Malmesbury described him as "the refuse of mankind and a reproach unto the English"

Eadric features as the central villain in the anonymous play Edmund Ironside, now part of the Shakespeare Apocrypha. In this play, Edricus (as his name has been Latinized) is the bastard son of peasants who raises himself to the level of earl through lies and flattery. Proud of his talent for dishonesty, he would be happy to see either the Danes or the Saxons rule England, but supports the Danes for reasons of personal expediency.

In 2005, he was selected by the BBC History Magazine as the 11th century's worst Briton. (BBC)

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Florence of Worcester

Geoffrey Gaimar

Anglo Saxon Chronicle

External links

Stretton-en-le-Field, Rootsweb

The Foundations of England: 1066-1154, John Henry Ramsay, from Google Books



I have found 9 different profiles with different data on them.

For example, most of profiles show Morcar of Northumbria as his father but, he was born in 0960, as family search org. doing so, states at the same time that Eadric had died in 0946/47.

At the same time, the same source states another data: giving Eadric date of birth in 0992 and the same pair of parents.

Other sources, stated in familysearch and wikipedia, state that Eadric could had been

Ethelric or Aethelric's son as well as Wulfric Spot's.

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Eadric Streona, Earl of Mercia's Timeline

December 25, 1017
Age 25
December 1017
Age 25
River Thames, England