King Eadred's Death

King Eadred’s Death

King Eadred’s Death 150 150 Frome Heritage Museum

Eadred was a grandson of Alfred the Great and was born around AD 923.He came to the throne when his elder brother Edmund I was stabbed to death and was consecrated as King of the English at Kingston-upon-Thames on 16 August 946. As part of his coronation Eadred received the submission of northern earls and Welsh rulers. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that Eadred controlled Northumbria and forced the Scottish nobility to submit, and some historians have declared him to be the first truly national ruler.

Eadred died of a longstanding and unidentified illness, possibly a digestive problem that made him unable to consume anything but the juices of his food. The illness forced the king to delegate much of his authority towards the end of his reign. Many of his responsibilities were taken over by St Dunstan, Abbot of Glastonbury. As well as helping the ailing king, Dunstan encouraged Eadred in his faith and support of monastic communities. Eadred died at Frome on 23 November 955 and was buried in the Old Minster in Winchester. You can still see an ornate mortuary chest at Winchester Cathedral said to contain Eadred’s bones. Though he was aged 32 at the time of his death there is no record of Eadred ever marrying, and he had no heirs. On his death the throne passed to his nephew Eadwig.

Sadly, the palace where he died has never been discovered but it is remarkable that he expired in Frome and equally remarkable that he did so, not in war or by an assassin but from an eating disorder that in fact was later to claim his successor as well at an even earlier age.