6. Edmund Ironside Lacked an Iron Bottom
Edmund Ironside (circa 993 – 1016) earned the “Ironside” for his staunch resistance to a Danish invasion by king Canute. Edmund’s father, Ethelred the Unready, had unwisely sought to buy off the Danes then occupying northern England, and stop their incessant raids into his kingdom, by paying them a tribute known as the Danegeld, or “Danish gold”. Unsurprisingly, that only emboldened the Danes, who upped their demands for more and more gold. Fearing little from Ethelred, the pocketed the tribute, and kept raiding his domain. Finally, after bankrupting his kingdom and beggaring its people with the high taxes necessary to pay the Danegeld, Ethelred ordered a massacre of Danish settlers in 1002. The massacre led to an invasion by the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard, who conquered England in 1013 and forced Ethelred to flee to Normandy.
However, Sweyn died the following year, at which point Ethelred returned, and with his son Edmund playing a leading role, chased Sweyn’s son, Canute, out of England in 1014. Canute returned the following year at the head of a large Danish army which pillaged much of England, but crown prince Edmund mounted a fierce resistance which stymied the Danes. When Ethelred died in 1016, Edmund succeeded him on the English throne. On November 30th, Edmund went to the privy to answer a call of nature, but unbeknownst to him, an assassin was waiting in the cesspit for the royal posterior to show up. When Edmund sat down to do his business, the assassin stabbed upwards with a sharp dagger, and leaving the weapon embedded in the king’s bowels, made his escape. Unfortunately for Edmund, even if his sides had been made of iron, his bottom was not.