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Eadric Streona

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Eadric Streona, also Edric (died 1017) was an Ealdorman of the Saxon Mercians. "Streona" meant "the Grasper", as he was known for many treacheries. He was the son of Aethelweard the Historian, a descendant of Ethelred I. His brother was Brihtric, uncle of Wulfnoth Cild, who was the son of Aethelmaer se Greata (usually translated as "the Great", but more correctly "the Fat".)

Royal FavourEdit

Eadric advanced to high dignity through the favour of the English King Ethelred the Unready. In 1007 he became Ealdorman of the Mercians, and subsequently married Ethelred's daughter Eadgyth. As Ealdorman, Eadric achieved a victory over the Welsh. He was later described as someone to whom unknown crimes may be safely attributed. He appears to have endeared himself to Ethelred II - to whom he was on the whole loyal - by arranging the assassinations of his internal opponents.

TreacheryEdit

In the struggle between the English and the Danes he appears in the character of an arch-traitor. When Ethelred in 1009 proposed a great attack on the Danes, Eadric persuaded him to refrain. On the invasion of England by Canute the Great in 1015 Eadric deserted Edmund Ironside and joined Canute. After the Battle of Otford he returned to Edmund, but only by his treachery at the Battle of Ashingdon to secure the utter defeat of the Saxon cause. He is said to have killed a soldier who looked like Edmund and held up his head, only then realizing his mistake. Eadric appears to have acted as a go-between for Ethelred and the Danes, attempting to rescue Saint Alphege (Alfheah) in 1012 by collecting a ransom. He was probably involved in other payments of Danegeld, as his father Aethelweard the Historian and Alphege were extensively involved in diplomacy with the Danes. Subsequent to the unauthorised murder of St. Alphege at Greenwich by Thorkell the Tall's men, Thorkell defected to Ethelred possibly through Eadric's agency.

Although loyal to Ethelred, he had a personal enmity towards Ethelred's son, Edmund Ironside, who favoured a confrontational policy towards the Danes, while Eadric was a major proponent of the payment of Danegeld and the opportunities for corruption it offered.

This was sealed when Edmund rebelled against his father and married Edith of East Anglia, the daughter of Sigeferth, one of Eadric's victims in his role as Ethelred's butcher, giving him a northern power base. Despite his policy of appeasement he persuaded Ethelred to undertake the genocide of Danish civilians in the St. Brice's Day Massacre.

DeathEdit

King Canute restored to Eadric the Earldom of Mercia. During Canute's reign, Eadric accompanied the Queen consort Emma of Normandy, widow of Ethelred and wife of Canute, to the Duchy of Normandy. At Christmas, 1017, fearing further treachery, Canute had Eadric slain, after a row in which Eadric claimed that he had assassinated Edmund Ironside for Canute's benefit - of which Canute had been unaware. Outraged, Canute ordered Eiríkr Hákonarson to cut him down on the spot.

The later chronicler Geoffrey Gaimar relates the story that Edmund Ironside was murdered on the privy by the sons of Eadric using a crossbow positioned in the midden pit to fire upward through the seat. It is said that the missile passed so far into his body that it could not be extracted. Eadric Streona was at this time a close associate of one of the Jomvikings, Thorkell the Tall, who had fought in the Battle of Hjorungavagr in 985, in which a primitive crossbow, known as the Skåne Lockbow was used and so might have had access to such an infernal device.

Eadric Streona's head was said to have been placed on London Bridge and his body thrown into the Thames. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle adds the unsympathetic comment "and it was rightly done."

LegacyEdit

William of Malmebury described him as "the refuse of mankind and a reproach unto the English." Proud of his talent for dishonesty, he would be happy to see either the Danes or the Saxons rule England, but supports the Danes for reasons of personal expediency.

See AlsoEdit

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