Reign of Edwy (440 words)

Historical Context Note

  • Robert Gallagher (University of Cambridge)


Much uncertainty surrounds the reality of this English king’s short reign (955–959). Later authors have painted him in a colourful if damning light, as a petulant and reckless young king who sought to break with the establishment of his father’s and uncle’s reigns. Perhaps most notoriously, the earliest hagiographer of St Dunstan, writing at the very end of the tenth century, recounted how Dunstan discovered Eadwig (Edwy) on the night of his coronation feast in a lustful embrace with a noble lady and her daughter. Such fodder is bound to capture the imaginations of later writers and has much to say about the development of posthumous royal reputations, but it cannot be relied upon as a source of historical accuracy. What can be s…

Gallagher, Robert. "Reign of Edwy". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 January 2016
[, accessed 28 October 2016.]