Reign of Edward the Elder (1171 words)

Historical Context Essay

  • Robert Gallagher (University of Cambridge)


Edward the Elder reigned for a quarter of a century, during which time he achieved considerable military success, yet he remains a poorly understood figure. The relative obscurity of this king is undoubtedly due to the paucity of surviving evidence and, indeed, the absence of a rich contemporary narrative comparable with Asser’s Vita Æ;lfredi, a biography of Edward’s father. Instead, Edward’s reign must be assessed primarily through the laconic entries in the varying recensions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, through the analysis of contemporary charters and coinage, and through the insights of archaeological excavations. Later medieval writers offer additional information that needs to be treated with caution. As …

Gallagher, Robert. "Reign of Edward the Elder". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 July 2015
[, accessed 23 October 2016.]