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Edward the Martyr - 975-979

Edward was about twelve when his father Edgar died suddenly aged 33 and was king for less than three years. He too was crowned at Kingston upon Thames. He was murdered, on 18 March 978, probably on the orders of his stepmother, Elfrida, when he went to visit her at Corfe Castle. Her motive was that she wanted to place her own son Ethelred on the throne.

The murder was a bloody affair, and shortly afterwards miracles were reported to have happened at his tomb, which led to his becoming known as Saint and Martyr. He was buried first at Wareham without any royal honours, and then, when the miracles began to occur, it was decided to remove his body for reburial near the high altar in Shaftesbury Abbey.

The solemn transfer from Wareham to Shaftesbury was the occasion of what was probably the greatest religious procession ever to take place in Dorset. The slow cortege took seven full days to cover the 25-mile journey, and further miracles were said to have occurred during that time.

Although King Edward, Saint and Martyr, was of very little importance during his lifetime, his influence continues even today as pilgrims come to visit his modern shrine in Brookwood Cemetery near Woking, Surrey. If Edward's death had been plotted by Elfrida, then the plan worked; his younger half-brother Ethelred (the Unready) was ready enough to succeed him.

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