Edmund of East Anglia

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Edmund the Martyr, detail from the Wilton Diptych circa 1399

Edmund the Martyr (also: Eadmund, Ædmund or Eadmundus ; * around 841; † November 20, 869 ) was king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia from 855 until his death . He is venerated as a martyr and a saint .


Edmund ascended the East Anglian throne on December 25, 855 at the age of 14. A year later he was blessed in a solemn ceremony at the royal seat of Burva (Bures St. Mary, Suffolk) by Humbert, the bishop of the East Angling, and anointed king on Christmas Day.

In 869 the Danes under Ubba and Ivar Ragnarsson passed through Mercia, invaded East Anglia and set up their winter camp in Thetford . Edmund attacked the Danes and lost his life in the battle. As a result, the Danes plundered and pillaged through East Anglia.

The Passio Sancti Eadmundi , a later source by Abbo von Fleury (945-1004), claims, however, that Edmund did not fight a battle against the Danes, but died a martyr's death. The Danes demanded that he renounce his belief. When he refused, he was beaten, tortured with arrows, and finally beheaded. This apparent contradiction is resolved by historians by assuming Edmund's capture and subsequent execution.

The place of death Hægelisdun is believed to be in Hellesdon (Norfolk), Hoxne, Bradfield St. Clare or Hollesley. Edmund was initially buried near his place of execution. A small chapel was built over his grave.


Coin in honor of Edmund around 900

Soon after his death, he was venerated as a martyr. Presumably the idea of ​​reconciliation between the Ostangels and the Danes played a role in the emerging cult of Edmund. Danelag coins minted between 890 and 910 bear his name. In the first decades of the 10th century the relics were transferred to St. Edmund's Abbey at Bury St Edmunds . The monastery developed into a center of Edmund's devotion.

The oldest hagiography was written by Abbo von Fleury around 986 in Ramsey Abbey . Although it was written over a century after Edmund's death, the work is considered to be historically reliable. Edmund was portrayed by Abbo as the ideal Christian king. Ælfric Grammaticus used Abbos Passio Sancti Eadmundi as a template for his Edmund vita in his Lives of the Saints .

His feast day is celebrated by the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox Churches on November 20th. In art he is depicted in royal robes or in knight armor with royal insignia. Further attributes are bear, tree, arrows and wolf. He is considered a patron against the plague. In England over 60 churches were dedicated to St. Edmund.



Web links

Commons : Edmund the Martyr  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
  • Edmund in Foundation for Medieval Genealogy

Individual evidence

  1. Asser : De rebus gestis Aelfredi
  2. ^ Anonymous: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 870 online in Project Gutenberg (English); see also Asser : De rebus gestis Aelfredi
  3. a b Abbo by Fleury : Passio Sancti Eadmundi
  4. ^ A b c Marco Mostert: Edmund, St, King of East Anglia . In: Michael Lapidge et al. (Ed.): The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England , Wiley-Blackwell, 2001, ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1 , pp. 160-161
  5. a b Ekkart SauserEdmund of East Anglia. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 15, Bautz, Herzberg 1999, ISBN 3-88309-077-8 , Sp. 508-509.
  6. The Hoxne Legend ( Memento of the original from July 23, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. in hoxne.net @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.hoxne.net
  7. ^ Edmund of East Anglia in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints
predecessor Office successor
Æthelweard King of East Anglia
Æthelred II.