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Rating the Monarchs of Britain: Now Disc. George III

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Zaz, May 27, 2009.

  1. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    I'm starting with Alfred because I don't agree with the historical cut-off of 1066. The Anglo-Saxon period was a very important one, even if nobody appears to study it in school very much.

    Anyway: Alfred the Great

    Born: 849 at Wantage, England

    Died: 26 October, 899

    Reigned: 871-899

    Father: Ethelwulf, King of Wessex

    Mother: Osburga

    Wife: Ealhswith

    Children: 2 sons, 4 daughters

    "The Anglo-Saxon settlement of England was no overnight affair. The late-Roman army had many Germanic elements and from the fourth century they and their families had settled in Britain. It is, therefore, not surprising that after the withdrawal of the legions at the beginning of the fifth century individual towns looked to Germanic mercenaries to maintain their security. Vortigern, the post-Roman Kentish king, is often left to take the blame, but he was no doubt only one of several leaders who took this course. The fifth and sixth centuries saw increased Germanic settlement although the balance of local power fluctuated between Britons and Saxons. Ultimately, even in areas such as Northumbria, where Germanic settlement was sparse, the English language became the predominant one and the celtic language and lifestyles became marginalised to Wales, Cornwall and northern Scotland.

    The end of the sixth century saw another major new influence on the Germanic invaders - Christianity. Although the Romano-British Church survived and the Anglo-Saxons would have had contact with indigenous Christians, the Church initially existed only on the fringes of English settlement, as paganism remained strong. In 597 a Christian mission sent by Pope Gregory the Great and led by Augustine landed in Kent. Its initial success was dramatic. The prompt conversion of King Aethelberht of Kent (?560 - 616) and the kings of Essex and East Anglia, then the baptism of Aethelberht's son-in-law King Edwin of Northumbria (617 - 33) by his bride's Roman chaplain Paulinus established Christianity within the highest eschelons of English society. Sees were established at Canterbury, Rochester, London and York.

    The four kingdoms soon relapsed into paganism, and initially only Kent was reconverted. The evangelistic initiative passed to the Scottish church based on Iona, founded by the Irishman, Columba, in 563. King Oswald of Northumbria (634 - 42) was converted while in exile among the Scots and invited Iona to send him a mission: the result was Aidan's foundation of Lindisfarne in 635. The Irish bishops of Lindisfarne consolidated Christianity in Northumbria; their fellow countrymen Duima and Ceollach, and their English pupils, Cedd and Trumhere, re-established the religion in Essex and introduced it to Mercia and the Middle Angles, whose king, Penda (?610-55), was the last great pagan ruler. In none of these kingdoms was there any significant relapse but Iona was out of line with Rome on the methods of calculating the date of Easter. In 663 Bishop Colman was defeated on the issue at the Synod of Whitby and withdrew to Iona, leaving the way clear for the organisation of the English Church by Theodore of Canterbury (669 - 90). Although the Church of Iona found favour with some of the later kings it was generally the Roman church that was dominant.

    Of the seven Saxon Kingdoms (the Heptarchy), the first one to achieve supremacy was Northumbria, whose high culture during the seventh century is reflected in such works as the Lindisfarne Gospels. They ruled the whole area between Derby and Edinburgh and their central territories of Yorkshire and Northumberland remained independent until the Vikings took York in 866, whilst the lordship of Bamburgh continued as an Anglian enclave throughout the tenth century.

    The eighth century saw the rise of Mercia who pushed back the Northumbrians and West Saxons and took control of East Anglia and Kent. The peak of Mercian domination came under Offa (died 796), though it remained a potent force until the abdication of Burgred in 874.
    A warrior from the period of Offa *Mid-Saxon Warrior

    The year 793 marked a major change for England
  2. Emperor_Billy_Bob

    Emperor_Billy_Bob Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Aug 9, 2000
    The problem with the early kings is that everything from that era is so shady, and what history was written will have been written by Alfred's courtiers.

    Still, unification of England and beating the Norsemen. Founding a navy was a pretty big deal, given the extent to which naval supremacy would later come to define British world power. I say that deserves at least an 8.
  3. Jabbadabbado

    Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Mar 19, 1999
    I thought his reign was a century earlier: 871 to 899.
  4. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    I'm sitting here staring at the screen and wondering why there are only 67 years between Alfred's death and the Norman Conquest, but not drawing the obvious conclusion.

    That's a good definition of an idiot.

    I've now edited it.
  5. Jabbadabbado

    Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Mar 19, 1999
    An absolutely amazing period of English history with Danish raiding and colonizing, Christianity taking a firm hold of the island, etc. Not knowing much about it myself: does anyone have a sense of what actually are the primary texts/sources for what historians do know?
  6. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    Here's the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: [link=]King Alfred[/link]

    History wasn't written by couriers, but by monks, the only literate class. Luckily Alfred was a great supporter of the Church.
  7. Champion of the Force

    Champion of the Force Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 27, 1999
    In addition to the chronicle, another primary source of information for Alfred comes from the monk Asser who was part of his entourage during his reign (although Asser's biography does end abruptly around AD 893).

    [link=]Wikipedia: Asser - The Life of King Alfred[/link]

    I'd give Alfred a 9. His establishment as 'King of the Anglo-Saxons' was in many ways a precursor to the 'King of England' title that would be adopted by latter kings. His successful reign also ensured the domination of the House of Wessex until the early 11th century (which saw trouble with the Danes and then the Normans). He also undertook numerous legal and military reforms (including establishing a navy as has already been pointed out).

    In addition he was also responsible for the restoration of London which at the time had been almost completely abandoned.
  8. Emperor_Billy_Bob

    Emperor_Billy_Bob Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Aug 9, 2000
    No, no, his COURTIERS as:

    "from the monk Asser who was part of his entourage during his reign" suggests.
  9. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    I can't think OR spell...:p
  10. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998

    Edward the Elder

    Born: 871/2

    Died: 924/5

    Reigned: 899-924

    Father: Alfred the Great, King of the Anglo-Saxons

    Mother: Ealhswith

    Wife: (1)Egwina

    Children: 2 sons, 1 daughter

    Wife: (2) Elfleda

    Children: 2 sons, 8 daughters

    Wife: (3) Edgiva

    Children: 2 sons, 3 daughters

    Alfred left a stable kingdom to his elder surviving son, but these were the Dark Ages, and as soon as Alfred died, Edward's cousin, Ethelwold (the son of Alfred's elder brother) claimed the throne and used support by the Danes to try to enforce.

    Edward, of course, wasn't about to put up with that, so the usual beat-down commenced. Edward won--you had to be a good military commander in those days--and settled down to father 18 children by 3 wives.

    His large tribe of daughters made some extremely impressive Continental marriages--two married Kings of France, one a German Emperor, one a Bohemian duke, and another a king of Arles. This shows that Alfred's dynasty had garnered international respect.

    "Edward extended the control of Wessex over the whole of Mercia, East Anglia and Essex, conquering lands occupied by the Danes and bringing the residual autonomy of Mercia to an end in 918...He had already annexed the cities of London and Oxford and the surrounding lands of Oxfordshire and Middlesex in 911. By 918, all of the Danes south of the Humber had submitted to him. By the end of his reign, the Norse, the Scots and the Welsh had acknowledged him as "father and lord".[12] This recognition of Edward's overlordship in Scotland led to his successors' claims of suzerainty over that Kingdom.

    Edward reorganized the Church in Wessex, creating new bishoprics at Ramsbury and Sonning, Wells and Crediton. Despite this, there is little indication that Edward was particularly religious. In fact, the Pope delivered a reprimand to him to pay more attention to his religious responsibilities."

    Edward hasn't garnered much attention, possibly because he is overshadowed by his father.

    Reputation: Only one biography.

    Conclusion: Edward ably performed the role of a medieval king--kill enemies in battle, get children, steal land. He seems neither as pious nor as energetic as his father.

    Rating: 7/10

    NOTE: He should be named Edward I, but because of the Norman's chauvinistic numerology, he is generally known as Edward the Elder, to distinguish him from Edward the Martyr, a descendant.
  11. Jabbadabbado

    Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Mar 19, 1999
    "and settled down to father 18 children by 3 wives."

    Edward the Fecund
    Edward the Fertile
    Edward the Prolific

  12. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi

    Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Jedi Master star 6

    Jul 31, 2002
    Was that Ethelred the same Ethelred referred to as Ethelred the Unready?

  13. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    No, he comes a little later. He was Ethelred II.

  14. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    3. Athelstan


    Born: 895

    Died: 939

    Reigned: 924-939

    Father: Edward the Elder

    Mother: Egwina

    Wife: None known

    Children: None known

    Successor: His half-brother, Edmund I

    Achievements: "Æthelstan's success in securing the submission of Constantine II, King of Scots, at the Treaty of Eamont Bridge in 927 through to the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 led to his claiming the title "king of all Britain". His reign is frequently overlooked, with much focus going to Alfred the Great before him, and Edmund after. However, his reign was of fundamental importance to political developments in the 10th century."

    Sources: "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which is so vocal during the reigns of Alfred and Edward the Elder, falls into relative silence during Athelstan's reign, and what entries survive are retrospective. A few references tell us of his military campaigns, the longest entry being a poem about the Battle of Brunanburh (937), probably composed in his successor Edmund's reign. Other narrative sources from across Europe, though, provide us with more information. The Annals of Flodoard contain several references to Athelstan's dealings with the rulers of west and east Francia, as does the Chronicle of Nantes. William of Malmesbury, however, writing in the early 12th century, provides us with the greatest detail. His work might even draw on a (now lost) Vita Æthelstani, as Michael Wood argues, but caution is called for as this case has yet to be proven and William's account can rarely be verified.

    Documentary sources come in the form of charters and laws. Numerous charters exist that tell us about where Athelstan was, who was with him, and to whom he was granting land. Through these it is possible to trace his peregrinations, particularly between 927 and 932 when all diplomas were drafted by the extraordinary scribe known as 'Athelstan A'. We have several law codes attributed to Athelstan; a couple are law codes after the tradition of Alfred and Edward; the others are less 'official', but nonetheless reveal aspects of Athelstan's administration.

    Non-written sources are also available. Perhaps most useful are coins, which give Athelstan a title which reveals how widespread he (or rather the minters) felt his reign extended: throughout all Britain. Also of interest are the manuscripts and relics Athelstan collected and donated - many of the former contain notices giving the details of these donations. These particularly shed light on Athelstan's patronage of the cult of St Cuthbert's in Northumbria, to whom he gave two lavish manuscripts containing our earliest surviving English ruler portraits, the Corpus Christi Manuscript."

    Athelstan did plenty of law reform as well.

    Reputation: Not much. The lack of sources are a problem.

    Conclusion: I suspect Athelstan was a good king, but it's rather hard to tell.

    Rating: 7/10
  15. Jabbadabbado

    Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Mar 19, 1999
    First, I want to thank you for introducing me to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and reminding me how little I know about the history of England.
    [blockquote]A.D. 926. This year...King Athelstan took to the kingdom of Northumbria, and governed all the kings that were in this island... And with covenants and oaths they ratified their agreement in the place called Emmet, on the fourth day before the ides of July; and renounced all idolatry, and afterwards returned in peace.[/blockquote]
    The spread of Christianity - still an issue at this date.
    [blockquote]937/38: King Athelstan and Edmund his brother led a force to Brumby, and there fought against Anlaf.[/blockquote]
    So much for peace:
    [blockquote]No slaughter yet
    was greater made
    e'er in this island,
    of people slain,
    before this same,
    with the edge of the sword;
    as the books inform us
    of the old historians;
    since hither came from eastern shores
    the Angels and Saxons,
    over the broad sea
    There's an accomplishment to be proud of.
  16. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    Indeed it is. These were the days when your leadership was life-or-death; if they weren't competent, death and destruction followed.
  17. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    Next: Edmund I


    Born: c. 920/2

    Died: 26 May 946 (murder)

    Reigned: 939-946

    Father: Edward the Elder

    Mother: Edgiva of Kent

    Wife: (1) St. Edgiva

    Children: 2 sons, 1 daughter

    Wife: (2) Ethelfleda

    Successor: His brother, Edred

    Achievements: "Shortly after his proclamation as king he had to face several military threats. King Olaf III Guthfrithson conquered Northumbria and invaded the Midlands. When Olaf died in 942 Edmund reconquered the Midlands. In 943 he became the god-father of King Olaf of York. In 944, Edmund was successful in reconquering Northumbria. In the same year his ally Olaf of York lost his throne and left for Dublin in Ireland. Olaf became the king of Dublin as Olaf Cuaran and continued to be allied to his god-father. In 945 Edmund conquered Strathclyde but conceded his rights on the territory to King Malcolm I of Scotland. In exchange they signed a treaty of mutual military support. Edmund thus established a policy of safe borders and peaceful relationships with Scotland. During his reign, the revival of monasteries in England began."

    Sources: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Flodoard's Annales, Richerus

    "((A.D. 941. This year King Edmund received King Anlaf at
    baptism; and that same year, a good long space after, he received
    King Reginald at the bishop's hands.))

    A.D. 942. Here
    Edmund king,
    of Angles lord,
    protector of friends,
    author and framer
    of direful deeds.
    o'erran with speed
    the Mercian land.
    whete'er the course
    of Whitwell-spring,
    or Humber deep,
    The broad brim-stream,
    divides five towns.
    Leicester and Lincoln.
    Nottingham and Stamford,
    and Derby eke.
    In thraldom long
    to Norman Danes
    they bowed through need,
    and dragged the chains
    of heathen men;
    till, to his glory,
    great Edward's heir,
    Edmund the king,
    refuge of warriors,
    their fetters broke.

    A.D. 943. This year Anlaf stormed Tamworth; and much slaughter
    was made on either hand; but the Danes had the victory, and led
    away with them much plunder. There was Wulfrun taken, in the
    spoiling of the town. This year King Edmund beset King Anlaf and
    Archbishop Wulfstan in Leicester; and he might have conquered
    them, were it not that they burst out of the town in the night.
    After this Anlaf obtained the friendship of King Edmund, and King
    Edmund then received King Anlaf in baptism; and he made him royal
    presents. And the same year, after some interval, he received
    King Reynold at episcopal hands. This year also died King Anlaf.

    A.D. 944. This year King Edmund reduced all the land of the
    Northumbrians to his dominion, and expelled two kings, Anlaf the
    son of Sihtric, and Reynold the son of Guthferth.

    A.D. 945. This year King Edmund overran all Cumberland; and let
    it all to Malcolm king of the Scots, on the condition that he
    became his ally, both by sea and land.

    A.D. 946. This year King Edmund died, on St. Augustine's mass
    day. That was widely known, how he ended his days: -- that Leof
    stabbed him at Pucklechurch. And Ethelfleda of Damerham,
    daughter of Alderman Elgar, was then his queen. And he reigned
    six years and a half: and then succeeded to the kingdom Edred
    Atheling his brother, who soon after reduced all the land of the
    Northumbrians to his dominion; and the Scots gave him oaths, that
    they would do all that he desired."

    Reputation: Edmund's reign was short...between seven and five years, and he was only about 26 when he died.

    Conclusion: A good start...a bad end.

    Rating: 6/10
  18. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    Next: Edred I


    Born: c. 923/5

    Died: 955

    Reigned: 946-955

    Father: Edward the Elder

    Mother: Edgiva of Kent

    Wife: None known

    Children: None known

    Successor: His nephew, Edwy

    Achievements: "Under the entry for the year 946, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that Eadred ?reduced all the land of Northumbria to his control; and the Scots granted him oaths that they would do all that he wanted.?[2] Nevertheless, Eadred soon faced a number of political challenges to the West-Saxon hegemony in the north. Unfortunately, there are some notorious difficulties with the chronology of the events described in the historical sources, but it is clear that there were two Scandinavian princes who set themselves up as kings of Northumbria.

    Olaf Sihtricson, otherwise known as Amlaíb Cuarán (?Sandal?), had been king of York (Jórvik) in the early 940?s, when he became Edmund?s godson and client king, but he was later driven out. He then succeeded his cousin as King of Dublin, but after a heavy defeat in battle in 947, was once again forced to try his luck elsewhere.[3] Shortly after this, Olaf was back in business, having regained the kingdom of York.[4] What Eadred thought of the matter or how much sympathy he bore for his brother?s godson, remains anyone?s guess, but it seems that he at least tolerated Olaf?s presence. In any event, Olaf was ousted from the kingship a second time by the Northumbrians, this time in favour of Eric son of Harald, according to MS E of the Chronicle.[5]

    This other player in the game was Eric ?Bloodaxe?, previously king of Norway (r. 930-4). After a number of successful operations elsewhere, he came to Northumbria and appears at some point to have set himself up as king. King Eadred responded harshly to the northern defectors by launching a destructive raid on Northumbria, which notably included burning the Ripon minster founded by St Wilfrid. Although his forces had to sustain heavy losses in the Battle of Castleford (as he returned home), Eadred managed to check his rival by promising the latter?s supporters even greater havoc if they did not desert the foreign prince. The Northumbrians did indeed appease the English king in this way and paid compensation.[6]

    The Historia Regum suggests that the threat of an independent Northumbrian king had come to an end in 952, when earls finally took over the helm."

    Sources: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Historia Regum

    Reputation: Another not-very-long reign. Edred was the youngest son of Edward the Elder. Edmund I had two surviving sons, but they were too young to reign. Edred had a reputation for temper and violence, but he may have needed them.

    Conclusion: Edred had a lot of ill-health, but still managed to subdue someone with the rather alarming cognomen "Bloodaxe".

    Rating: 7/10
  19. Sven_Starcrown

    Sven_Starcrown Jedi Youngling star 4

    Mar 10, 2009
    I cannot wait for William the Conqueror. An english king which is finally familiar.
  20. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    I'm very annoyed that people know so little about the Wessex kings. Brit history DOES NOT begin in 1066, dammit.
  21. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    Next: Edwy I


    Born: c. 941/3

    Died: 959

    Reigned: 955-59

    Father: Edmund I

    Mother: St. Elgiva

    Wife: Elgiva (annulled in 958)

    Children: None known

    Successor: His brother, Edgar I

    Achievements: Very few.

    Sources: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

    Reputation: Spoiled brat. The chief story told about him is his quarrel with Bishop Dunstan, over Dunstan finding him in bed with his girlfriend and the girlfriend's mother. He married her later, and the marriage was forceably annulled by the Church against their wills. Edwy was also defeated in battle, and thus the North was controlled by his brother, Edgar. There is some hint that Edwy was becoming more mature when he died, aged 20.

    Conclusion: The first really incompetent Wessex King. Alas, he would not be the last.

    Rating: 1/10
  22. Champion of the Force

    Champion of the Force Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 27, 1999
    I know. Unfortunately, I too am ignorant (more than I realised in fact) about the pre-Norman monarchs which is why I've failed to make any serious contribution to this thread (well that and real life aka. shiftwork :p).

    One comment I will make is, after seeing such examples as Edwy I, it's no wonder the power base of the House of Wessex was crumbling by the early 11th century. I've often wondered how different things would have turned out if William had failed in his conquest and Harold had been victorious - would it have led to a reestablishment of a strong powerbase under an Anglo-Saxon monarch, or would it have quickly devolved again into a weakened state dominated by the local barons and lords which may in turn have split into smaller, rival territories duking it out for dominance (which is where it seems to have been heading prior to 1066).

    (probably a bit early at the moment to speculate - might be an interesting discussion point when we get to the 1000s CE :p)

    Uggh - having a threesome with a girl and her mother, then being caught by the freaking bishop. Didn't the guy know how to lock the door??? :oops:
  23. Zaz

    Zaz Jedi Knight star 9

    Oct 11, 1998
    It *is* an interesting problem...during all this time, the Wessex kingdom was under pressure from the Danes, some of whom settled in England, and fresh ones coming over. For awhile, Wessex and Danish kings both ruled, which is the situation William found. The Wessex dynasty did not have to end, as we shall see.

    Re: Edwy's pratfall with the Bishop shows that that the current house is not the only dynasty with sex scandals...:p
  24. Sven_Starcrown

    Sven_Starcrown Jedi Youngling star 4

    Mar 10, 2009
    Cilnton never even got near that felow with his scandal.
  25. SuperWatto

    SuperWatto Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 19, 2000
    I don't see the point in rating kings. Does anyone see the point in rating kings? Can anyone tell me what the point is of rating kings?

    I may even be tempted to find a Senate rule that forbids the rating of kings...

    I pity any sucker who's born to be king.