May 26, 946: Death of King Edmund, stabbed by Leofa at Pucklechurch

Coin of King Edmund King Edmund (939-46) was the son of King Edward the Elder (899-924), and half-brother of King Æthelstan (924-39). Edward and Æthelstan between them had won Mercia and Northumbria back from the Vikings, but in the first year of Edmund's reign the Vikings took them back again. It took Edmund five years to win them back again, and Northumbria would return to Viking control in the reign of Edmund's brother and successor Eadred (946-55).

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that King Edmund died on St Augustine's day (26 May), and that he was stabbed by Leofa at Pucklechurch [just east of Bristol], as was well known. It may have been well known back in 946, but today we do not even know who "Leofa" was. John of Worcester, writing in the twelfth century, notes that Pucklechurch was a royal residence and states that Edmund was trying to save one of his retainers from being killed by Leofa, a base robber. This might be true, and echoes a similar event in the seventh century, when the West Saxons sent an assassin to kill the Northumbrian King Edwin, and one of Edwin's thegns, Lilla, blocked the blow and died himself. Clearly, Anglo-Saxon royal courts are much more dangerous places than the formal and lengthy legal documents that form our most substantial record of them would suggest.

Review the history, 899-955.