The later line of Alfred [the Great]
The later line of Alfred [the Great]

Then for a brief moment appeared on the scene a national hero, Edmund Ironside, AEthelred's son, a prince who seemed fitted to revive the older glories of his house. While the young Knut was making ready to enforce his claim, AEthelred returned, showing no sign of any intention of changing his old evil courses.

Where AEthelred's direct influence could be felt Edmund could do nothing; but the North was ready to follow a bold leader, having before yielded in sheer despair over AEthelred's incompetence. The South was helpless. AEthelred's death in 1016 came too late.

The Battle of Assandun
Edmund made a splendid stand against Knut; but sheer treachery brought about his defeat at the battle of Assandun. Even then Knut realised that with such an antagonist victory was by no means certain, and a treaty was made dividing the kingdom on the old lines of the treaty of Wedmore, though the southern portion of the Danelagh went to Edmund's share. But the heroic prince was not destined to be a second Alfred.

Edmund's Death
The treaty had hardly been concluded when he died, being then but five and twenty, while his rival was only twenty-one. It was perhaps inevitable that Edmund's death should have been attributed to foul play on the part of Knut, who succeeded to the entire kingdom without opposition.

This article is excerpted from the book, 'A History of the British Nation', by AD Innes, published in 1912 by TC & EC Jack, London. I picked up this delightful tome at a second-hand bookstore in Calgary, Canada, some years ago. Since it is now more than 70 years since Mr Innes's death in 1938, we are able to share the complete text of this book with Britain Express readers. Some of the author's point of view may not be currently accepted by modern historians, but it is worth reading as a period piece of British attitudes at the time of writing.

Prehistory - Roman Britain - Dark Ages - Medieval Britain - The Tudor Era - The Stuarts - Georgian Britain - The Victorian Age