Rex Augustissimus : reassessing the Reign of King Edmund of England, 939-46
This thesis is an examination and reassessment of the political situation in England c.939x46. The relationships between royal authority and the aristocracy in the former kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex, East Anglia and the Danelaw is the primary focus, however it also attempts to place such relations into the broader context of insular politics in the mid-tenth-century. Charters, chronicles, hagiography and literary evidence, legislation and numismatics serve as the primary source materials. King Edmund was the first Anglo-Saxon king to succeed to the whole of England; his role and that of his great men, both secular and ecclesiastic, in maintaining the diverse areas under West Saxon control as an integrated kingdom deserves renewed attention. The study establishes that regional concerns and the relationship between the burgeoning royal authority of the king dominated events during King Edmund's reign. The politics of the period are marked by the presence of strong local factions, and the ways that such divisions interacted with each other and the royal will are examined in detail. Furthermore it is argued that King Edmund pursued a balanced policy of regional realignment away from more traditional and established power interests in Wessex towards those based and growing in Mercia and East Anglia, through an emphasis on combined regional and royal centralized authority. This policy was employed through the promotion of powerful aristocratic families largely based outside of Wessex and the expansion of administrative and legislative developments, which encouraged cooperation between royal authority, local influence and the church. It is argued finally that throughout the period such developments should be considered alongside the suggestion that the royal family contributed to the development of a unified England because it was increasingly dependent on regional cohesion.