When King Edgar of England died in 975, his children disputed which of them was the rightful heir. Edward was the eldest son of King Edgar, but he was not the acknowledged heir. Two other of King Edgar’s sons had been born by his third wife, Queen Ælfrthrth. These sons, Edmund and Æthelred, were seen as the legitimate heirs to the throne, and Æthelred received the backing of his mother, the queen dowager. Edward received critical support from the church, and was chosen as king, despite Queen Ælfrthrth’s campaign to gain the throne for Æthelred. The kingdom, however, was bitterly divided as a...

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