Eadwig All-Fair, king of England (955 [cons. 26 January 956] - 1 October 959) (kingdom divided with Edgar, 957)

Eadwig (d. 1 October 959), son of King Edmund, was king of England (955-959) after his uncle Eadred. Æthelweard notes that Eadwig was called "All-Fair" by the common people for his great beauty. He is best known for his dramatic confrontation with Dunstan at his coronation feast, and for the fact that in 957 the country was divided, with everything north of the Thames (Mercia and Northumbria) ruled by his brother Edgar. The division seems to have been peaceful, and when Eadwig died two years later, Edgar became king over a once-more united England.

Eadwig started his reign by asserting his independence from the important counsellors of his uncle's and father's reigns. He exiled Dunstan and confiscated estates belonging to his grandmother Eadgifu, who witnessed many of the charters of her sons Edmund and Eadred, but probably no genuine charters of Eadwig's. Eadwig did not remove the chief ealdorman, Æthelstan Half King, but did appoint new ealdormen to parts of Mercia which Æthelstan had previously administered himself.

An unprecedented sixty-odd charters survive from 956, presumably the results of Eadwig's attempt to create a base of retainers loyal to him. Among the new people promoted were several royal kinsmen, including Ælfheah, ealdorman of Mercia, Ælfhere, seneschal and later ealdorman of Central Wessex, and Byrhthelm, bishop of Winchester. These three, along with Eadwig's queen Ælfgifu, probably the sister of Æthelweard the Chronicler, may all have been descended from Æthelred I. The promotion together of such a kin-group might well alarm already established powerful families, like those of Æthelstan Half King and Dunstan. Eadwig's marriage to Ælfgifu might alarm Edgar still more, much as Æthelwulf's marriage to Judith probably worried Æthelbald a century earlier: a child of the union of two royal parents might be considered more throne-worthy than Edgar himself.

It may have been the concerted action of Eadwig's enemies that caused the division of the kingdom in the second half of 957. The exact cause of the events will probably never be clear, but the division itself was peaceful: ealdormen and bishops to the north of the Thames went to Edgar's court, and those to the south of the Thames stayed with Eadwig's court. It was clear that Eadwig retained overall authority: in his charters he remained rex Anglorum, king of the English, while Edgar was styled "king of the Mercians". It also seems that coins both sides of the Thames were in Eadwig's name until his death. On the negative side, Eadwig had to allow Edgar to recall Dunstan from exile, and in 958 archbishop Oda divorced Eadwig from Ælfgifu on grounds of consanguinity. As their relationship was surely known from the beginning, this was a political rather than a religious move. Eadwig and Ælfgifu had no children, so the kingship passed unopposed to Edgar when Eadwig died the following year.