The validity of the legend concerning the fate of King Edmund of the East Angles is explored in The Royal Saints of Anglo-Saxon England – A Study of West Saxon and East Anglian Cults, a 1988 publication of the Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought. The book was written by Susan J. Ridyard, the Professor of History at the Sewanee University in Tennessee.

The evidence by which sainthood was claimed came from the Passion of Saint Edmund written by Bishop Abbo of Fleury in about 990. A convenient modern version is available at

faculty.virginia.edu/OldEnglish/aelfric/edmund.html

where the Old English translation of Abbo’s Latin by the Anglo-Saxon monk, Aelfric’s translation of Abbo’s Latin story is contained. But beware: Aelfric and Abbo lived a century after King Edmund died in 870. And they were writing at a time of intense warfare of King Aethelred against the Danes and Norwegians, when the Christian church and literacy were yet again under threat, and there was a serious need to bolster particularly East Anglian allegiance – for they were, in the days of Guthrum, closely associated with the Danes (see the wording of the Alfred-Guthrum Peace Treaty).

More contemporary records of the demise of King Edmund made no mention of the impeccable piety and conduct that Aelfric and Abbo claimed – not even from Asser, King Alfred’s biographer, writing in about 890.

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