Edward, King of England

English Language Study for Russian Orthodox Learners

Saint Martyr Edward, King of England
(March 18/31)
(†978)

The Holy Martyr Edward was King of England during the time when the country was Orthodox.  Edward’s mother passed away shortly after his birth in 962.  Edward’s father, King Edgar, was the great-grandson of Alfred the Great, one of the most remarkable English kings.  Edgar was a wise ruler who reigned for twenty years and brought prosperity to his country, for which he was called Edgar the Peacemaker.  After the death of his first wife, King Edgar married Elfreda.  Together they had a son, Ethelred.  When Edgar died in 975, thirteen-year-old Edward, his eldest son, was crowned King of England.

Edward was a pious young man, deeply devoted to God.  He helped the poor and supported the Church and monasteries.  Edward began his reign during difficult times.  Famine spread throughout the country.  Many noblemen attacked the Church to gain wealth and power, and many monks fled the monasteries.

Opposition to the king formed among the nobility.  Edward’s step-mother, Elfreda, wanted the crown of England for her son, Ethelred.   Elfreda and her supporters plotted to kill the king.  

Queen Elfreda invited Edward to visit her and her son in their residence in Corfe Castle.  As the king approached the castle on horseback, a few servants came out to greet him.   They offered him a cup to drink.  Edward was thirsty after the long journey and gladly accepted.   Then, one of the servants stabbed him in the back with a knife.   As the young king fell, his foot stuck in the stirrup, and the frightened horse ran into the woods.  When the horse was finally stopped, Edward was already dead.

Queen Elfreda told her servants to hide the body in the woods.  She did not know that God would soon reveal her terrible crime.  The first miracle happened on the night of the murder.  Before the burial, when the body of the holy king lay in the hut of a blind woman, she suddenly was able to see.  Later, near his grave, a spring (источник) appeared.   People who bathed in it were healed.

In 980 the body of the king-martyr was taken to Shaftesbury Abby (Аббатство).  His resting place became a favourite pilgrimage site for Orthodox Englishmen.  King Edward was glorified in 1008.

After Edward’s death, his half-brother, Ethelred, became king.  He was only a child at the time of the murder, and did not know anything about his mother’s plot.

Ethelred regarded King Edward as a saint and martyr.  Later, Queen Elfreda sincerely repented.  She died as a poor nun in 999.

Corfe Castle

Замок Корф