Edward the Elder was the eldest son of the legendary Saxon king, Alfred the Great. He was born c. 874, and ascended to the throne in 899 following the death of his father. He reigned for 25 years and died in 924 at the age of 50 (very elderly in those times!).
Edward’s ascension was not plain sailing – he had to fight against his own cousin, Aethelwold to get to the throne. In 910, Edward took back Southern England from the Danes with the help of his sister Aethelflaed, the Lady of Mercia. When she died in 918, the kingdom of Mercia passed to Edward. In just a few short years, Edward had Mercia, Wessex and East Anglia under his control. It was the beginning of what would eventually become the United Kingdom.
Edward died in 924 in battle against the Welsh, and was buried at Winchester. He had fourteen children with three different wives, and was succeeded by the eldest of these – Aethelstan.
Although Edward can be credited with laying the groundworks for a single united kingdom, he arguably undid a lot of his father’s hard work. This included the decline of education, which was hugely neglected during Edward’s reign, amongst many other issues.
Flude, Kevin, Divorced, Beheaded, Died…The History of Britain’s Kings and Queens in Bite-sized Chunks (Michael O’Hara Books Limited, 2009).
Grant, Neil, Kings and Queens: An Illustrated Guide to British Monarchs (Collins Gem, 2004).