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Edward the Exile (1) : Two young English princes were banished to the court of Yaroslav the Wise, and one returned to claim the crown.
Edward the Exile
Part one

Edward the Exile was one of two princes, sons of Edmund Ironside and heirs to the English throne, driven to Kiev early in the 11th century after their father was defeated in battle by the Danish warrior-king Cnut the Great. In 1054, Edward returned to England with his wife and young son Edgar, expecting to regain his lost throne.

IN 1016, the Danish King Cnut the Great took the English crown from Edmund Ironside, son of Ethelred the Unready, at the Battle of Assandun. Edmund’s two infant sons, Edmund and Edward, were banished to Sweden; Cnut’s plan was to have them assassinated, but the boys were smuggled to safety at the court of Stephen I of Hungary.* A second attempt in 1028 drove them to Kiev, under the protection of Yaroslav the Wise.*

There, Edmund forfeited Yaroslav’s goodwill by having an affair with a noble lady at court, so when Cnut’s son and successor Harthacnut died in 1042, the talk was of Edward returning to England as King. In the event, both Edward and Edmund returned to Hungary, to help Andrew, a relative of Stephen, capitalise on the Vata Uprising in 1046 and claim the Hungarian throne.* Success raised Edward’s profile further, and in 1054 he was summoned back to England, as heir presumptive to the childless Edward the Confessor.

* This connection to Hungary may help to explain why those who fled England after the Conquest in 1066, and went to live by the Black Sea, asked for Hungarian priests to minister to them rather than Russians from Kiev or Greeks from Constantinople. See Welcome to Micklegarth.

* English connections to Kiev were apparently renewed in the time of Yaroslav’s grandson Vladimir II Monomakh, who is said by some Scandinavian sources to have married a daughter of King Harold Godwinson of England. See Gytha and Vladimir.

* Stephen’s son Peter Orseolo had lost the confidence of his nobles and allowed Hungary to be dominated by the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry III. Andrew was the nobles’ choice, as well as Yaroslav’s (Andrew had been exiled to Kiev like Edward and Edmund), as King of a more independent Hungary.

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Picture: From the British Library, via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
Part of a thirteenth-century illuminated genealogy, showing Edward the Exile in the middle, with (left to right) his children Edgar the Atheling, Queen Margaret of Scotland, Edmund the Exile, who was actually Edward’s brother and Edgar’s uncle, and Christina, Abbess of Romsey Abbey in Hampshire. The complete roll can be seen at The British Library.

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