Edwy of England

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Eadwig, more rarely Edwy (941? – 1 October 959), sometimes nicknamed All-Fair or the Fair, was King of England from 955 until his death four years later. The eldest son of King Edmund and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury, Eadwig was chosen by the nobility to succeed his uncle Eadred as King. His short reign was marked by ongoing conflicts with his family, thegns, and especially the Church, under the leadership of Saint Dunstan and Archbishop Odo.

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Feud with Dunstan

According to one legend, the feud with Dunstan began on the day of Eadwig's consecration, when he failed to attend a meeting of nobles. When Dunstan eventually found the young monarch, he was cavorting with a noblewoman named Æthelgifu and refused to return with the bishop. Infuriated by this, Dunstan dragged Eadwig back and forced him to renounce the girl as a "strumpet". Later realizing that he had provoked the king, Dunstan fled to the apparent sanctuary of his cloister, but Eadwig, incited by Æthelgifu, followed him and plundered the monastery. Though Dunstan managed to escape, he refused to return to England until after Eadwig's death. The contemporary record of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports Eadwig's accession and Dunstan fleeing England-but does not tell why Dunstan fled. Thus this report of a feud between Eadwig and Dunstan could either have been based on a true incident of a political quarrel for power between a young king and powerful church officials who wished to control the king and who later spread this legend to blacken his reputation, or it could be an urban legend; the Chronicle also tells of Odo putting aside the King's marriage on the grounds Eadwig and his wife were "too related".

The account of the quarrel with Dunstan and Cynesige, bishop of Lichfield at the coronation feast is recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and in the later chronicle of John of Worcester and was written by monks supportive of Dunstan's position. The "cavorting" in question consisted of Eadwig (then only 16) being away from the feast with Ælfgifu and her mother Æthelgifu. He later married Ælfgifu, who may have been the sister of Æthelweard the Chronicler. His brother was Athelstan Half-King who was Eadwig's brother Edgar's foster father. Edgar also married his foster sister.

Æthelweard and Eadric were the sons of Æthelthryth, who was the son of Æthelhelm (possibly the same as Æthelhelm, Archbishop of Canterbury who in turn was the son of King Æthelred I. Eadwig was the son of King Edmund the Magnificent, grandson of King Edward the Elder, greatgrandson of King Alfred the Great, and greatgreatnephew of King Æthelred I. Due to this somewhat tenuous relationship, Archbishop Oda annulled the marriage between Eadwig and Ælfgifu.[clarification needed]

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