England · Political

Edmund Ironside, murdered on his toilet

November 30, 1016
England
Edmund II, also known as Edmund Ironside, King of England from April 23, 1016 to November 30, 1016, is killed while using the privy

Edmund had been engaged in a conflict over the throne from 1014 when his 2 older brothers died making him the eldest male heir, and his father was usurped by Sweyn Forkbeard. When Sweyn died shortly after, Edmund’s father had a chance to reclaim the throne, but Sweyn’s son Cnut assembled his own Danish forces to re-invade England.

As Edmund’s death was over 1000 years ago, the exact cause of his demise is debated. A historian from the 12th Century claimed an assassin waited in the cesspit below Edmund’s latrine and stabbed Edmund several times in his posterior. The historian, Henry of Huntingdon, wrote “King Edmund was treacherously slain a few days afterwards. Thus it happened: one night, this great and powerful king having occasion to retire to the house for receiving the calls of nature, the son of the ealdorman Eadric, by his father’s contrivance, concealed himself in the pit, and stabbed the king twice from beneath with a sharp dagger, and, leaving the weapon fixed in his bowels, made his escape.”

Another 12th Century historian, Geoffrey Gaimar, reported a booby-trapped crossbow was aimed at the toilet to kill the King as he relieved himself, describing “a drawn bow with the string attached to the seat, so that when the king sat on it the arrow was released and entered his fundament.” However, the Encomium Emmae Reginae, written in the 11th Century in honor of Queen Emma of Normandy, the Queen Consort to both Edmund’s father and Cnut, claimed Edmund’s death was a result of a battle injury or disease.

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