Edmund the Martyr

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Edmund the Martyr (died 20 November 869 or 870) was a king of East Anglia who was venerated as a martyr saint soon after his death at the hands of Danish Vikings. Contemporary evidence for his life and death is largely confined to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and his coinage. In the late 10th century, Abbo of Fleury was commissioned to write a life of the saint, which was translated into Old English by Ælfric of Eynsham. According to Abbo, Edmund was captured and tortured by the Great Heathen Army and died the death of a martyr.

He is venerated as a saint and a martyr in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. It is said that the king's body was ultimately interred at Beadoriceworth, the modern Bury St Edmunds, where the pilgrimage to his shrine was encouraged by the 12th century monks' enlargement of the church. Edmund's popularity among the Anglo-Norman nobility helped justify claims of continuity with pre-Norman traditions; a banner of St. Edmund's arms was carried at the Battle of Agincourt.



The earliest and most reliable accounts represent Edmund as descended from the preceding kings of East Anglia of the Wuffing line. Other accounts state that his father was King Æthelweard. Geoffrey of Wells claimed that Edmund was the youngest son of Alcmund, a Saxon king. Edmund was said to have been crowned by Bishop Humbert of Elmham on Christmas Day 855.


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