Louis I "The Pious", Emperor of The Holy Roman Empire
Ruled 814-40. Is usually reckoned as Louis I. The son of Charlemagne, he succeeded his father as king of the Franks and Holy Roman emperor (see Charlemagne ). The great empire built up by Charlemagne was divided after Louis I died, and the next four rulers of this name left little mark on the course of history.
Though more cultivated than his father, Charlemagne, according to Magnus Magnusson, author of "Vikings!" (1980), Louis lacked his father's forcefulness. "While Louis pursued his policy of spreading the Christian faith wherever he could", says Magnusson, "civil wars started breaking out within his kingdom, and by the 830s the Frankish empire was beginning to fall apart." He goes on to say that, "In 840 Louis the Pious died, and the great empire he had inherited was divided up between his three bickering sons - the eastern part to Louis the German, the west to Charles the Bald, and the centre and Italy to Lothar. And now the disintegration of the Frankish empire set in with a vengeance. Any political unity that Charlemagne had imposed was gone, and the Frankish society became splintered and localised, racked with fueds and treacheries." He says further, "With the Frankish lords at one another's throats, the old Carolingian empire became a Viking hunting ground."
Aethelred II, "The Unready", King of England
He succeeded to the throne after the murder of his half-brother, Edward II, the Martyr, at the age of ten. His reign was plagued by poor advice from his personal favorites and suspicions of his complicity in Edward's murder. His was a rather long and ineffective reign, which was notable for little other than the payment of the Danegeld, an attempt to buy off the Viking invaders with money. The relentless invasions by the Danish Vikings, coupled with their ever-escalating demands for more money, forced him to abandon his throne in 1013. He fled to Normandy for safety, but was later recalled to his old throne at the death of Svein Forkbeard in 1014. He died in London in 1016.
Edgar "The Peaceful", King of England
Edgar was made King of Mercia and Northumbria in 957 and succeed to the throne of Wessex at his brother, Eadwig's, death in 959. With this, Edgar was King of Mercia, Northumbria and Wessex (the three most powerful kingdoms in England at that time), simultaneously and could be considered the first ruler of a United England. Some of his predecessors were Kings of All England by virtue of being King of Wessex and, at the same time, enjoying a temporary military ascendancy over the other kingdoms.
He was formally crowned in 973 and received the ceremonial submission of all the other kings in Britain. He wisely recalled (St.) Dunstan from exile and made him Archbishop of Canterbury and his closest personal advisor. His reign was prosperous and peaceful and he is generally credited with the revival of the English church.
Edward The Martyr King of England
Crowned in 975. He was murdered by order of his stepmother Elfrida, at Corfe Castle, after a reign of three years.
Edmund I "The Magnificent", King of England
Son of Edward the Elder, succeeded his half-brother, Ęthelstan, with whom he had fought at Brunanburh. Combated the Norse Vikings in Northumbria and subdued them in Cumbria and Strathclyde. He entrusted these lands to an ally, Malcolm I of Scotland. Edmund met his death when he was killed at Pucklechurch, in Gloucestershire, by a robber.
Eadwig (Edwy), King of England
Son of Edmund I., succeeded his uncle Edred in 955. He opposed the temporal power of St. Dunstan, called him to account for his share in the administration of the preceding reign, and banished him. A revolt broke out soon after in Mercia and Northumbria, promoted probably by the influence of Dunstan and his party, and Edgar was chosen king of those provinces. Edwy, by his marriage with Elgiva, who was related to him, deeply offended the clerical party, and Archbishop Odo, with the approval and support of Dunstan, separated them, not without acts of terrible cruelty. Elgiva was put to death, and Eadwig, not 19 years of age, died soon after, 959.
Edward "The Elder", King of England
Son of Alfred the Great, Edward immediately succeeded his father to the throne. His main achievement was to use the military platform created by his father to bring back, under English control, the whole of the Danelaw, south of the Humber River.
Aethelstan, King of England
Was the eldest son of Edward the Elder, on whose death in 925 he succeeded to the throne. In the following year, on the death of Sihtric, king of Northumbria, who had married Athelstan's sister, he seized his kingdom, and the other kings in the island made peace with him. The great event of his reign was the battle of Brunanburg, at which he won a complete victory over Anlaf son of Sihtric, and the Anglo-Danes with their allies the Northmen, the Scots, and the Welsh. This battle was fought in 937. Athelstan acquired great influence abroad, and his alliance was sought by several European sovereigns. He ruled wisely, added to the laws left by his grandfather Alfred, and favoured trade, education, and religion. Died unmarried, 940.
Edred King of England
The youngest son of Edward the Elder, succeeded his brother Edmund I in 946. Famed for expelling the Danish leader, Eric Bloodaxe from Northumbria in 947 and from England in 954. In some manuscripts he is condemned as a sickly weak king who was blamed for losing York in the first place. He suppressed a revolt of the Northumbrians, received from them oaths of fidelity which they immediately broke, and again he subdued them. Edred was of feeble health, and inclined to an ascetic life. He had for chief advisor, during the latter part of his reign, the celebrated Dunstan. Died, 955
Alfred "The Great", King of England
Youngest son of King Ęthelwulf, Alfred became King of Wessex during a time of constant Viking attack. He was driven into hiding by a Viking raid into Wessex, led by the Dane, Guthorm, and took refuge in the Athelney marshes in Somerset. There, he recovered sufficient strength to be able to defeat the Danes decisively at the Battle of Eddington. As a condition of the peace treaty which followed, Guthorm received Christian baptism and withdrew his forces from Wessex, with Alfred recognizing the Danish control over East Anglia and parts of Mercia. This partition of England, called the "Danelaw", was formalized by another treaty in 886.
Alfred created a series of fortifications to surround his kingdom and provide needed security from invasion. The Anglo-Saxon word for these forts, "burhs", has come down to us in the common place-name suffix, "bury." He also constructed a fleet of ships to augment his other defenses, and in so doing became known as the "Father of the English Navy." The reign of Alfred was known for more than military success. He was a codifier of law, a promoter of education and a suppor|er of the arts. He, himself, was a scholar and translated Latin books into the Anglo-Saxon tongue. The definitive contemporary work on Alfred's life is an unfinished account in Latin by Asser, a Welshman, bishop of Sherbourne and Alfred's counsellor. After his death, he was buried in his capital city of Winchester, and is the only English monarch in history to carry the title, "the Great."