2. The King Who Held Back King Canute
King Edmund II, better known as Edmund Ironside (circa 993 – 1016), ruled over England from April 23rd to November 30th, 1016. The son of one of England’s worst kings, the weak and hapless Ethelred the Unready, Edmund turned out to be a vast improvement over his father, and proved himself made of sterner stuff than his predecessor. He earned the nickname “Ironside” because of the staunch resistance that he put up against a massive invasion led by the Danish King Canute.
In 991, Edmund’s father, Ethelred the Unready tried to buy off the Danes who then occupied northern England, and stop their incessant raids into his kingdom. He figured that if he paid them tribute known as the Danegeld, or “Danish gold”, they would back off. Unsurprisingly, rather than get the Danes to back off, the tribute only emboldened them. They upped their demands for more and more gold, and secure in the knowledge that they had little to fear from Ethelred, they continued to raid his realm. Finally, after he bankrupted his kingdom and beggared its people with the high taxes necessary to pay the Danegeld, an exasperated Ethelred resorted to a macabre expedient: a massacre of all Danish settlers in 1002. It made things worse.