Monday 19 March 2018

The miraculous story of Edmund the Martyr by Mary Anne Yarde #Folklore #Myths #Vikings

The miraculous story of Edmund the Martyr
 by Mary Anne Yarde

AD 869

The Good Lord did not protect the monasteries as those who carried the banner of the raven plundered them. These men, these monsters, murdered, pillaged, and burnt their way across the kingdom. All that stood in the way of the Vikings and the destruction of East Anglia was one brave follower of Christ ~ Edmund, son of  Æthelweard, and the rightful King of East Anglia.

While others whispered their fear that the end was nigh and that God had abandoned them, Edmund stood strong. He was confident in his faith and in God. He could not — he would not — contemplate what others did. God was with them, he was sure of it. God would not abandon them in this, their most desperate hour of need. These monsters, these pagans, would not stand up against Christ and the true religion.

The November air was bitter, and above the battleground, the ravens flew. Edmund, despite his conviction and faith, found himself at the mercy of the Viking aggressors. The Viking warlord was a feared man who went by the name of Ivarr inn beinlausi, son of the late Ragnar Lodbrok. Ivarr did not know what to make of this East Anglian King. Edmund was brave, of that, there was no doubt, and Ivarr respected bravery, but at the same time, he also liked to tease.

“You were an honourable opponent, and because of that, I have a mind to set you free,” Ivarr stated. “But first, you must denounce your God. He did not come to your aid when you needed him and I have seen no sign of him while I have been in this kingdom. He has abandoned you. As you can see, our gods are real and powerful. More powerful than the Christian one you follow. I think your God is afraid of ours. Fall on your knees, renounce your faith in Jesus Christ, and I will let you go.”

“You have taken my kingdom,” Edmund stated. “But you will not take away my God.”

“Brave words, from a brave man. King Edmund, you have lost everything. But you do not need to lose your life. Renounce your God, and I will spare you.”

“I would rather die,” Edmund returned.

“Pity,” Ivarr shrugged. “But if that is your wish... Take him away and hand him over to the archers. By the time they have finished with you, King Edmund, you will be praying to our Gods for mercy.”

Ivarr watched with a frown as Edmund was dragged roughly away. His men tormented the former King. They mocked him, beat him and tore at his clothes. Edmund said nothing. He accepted his fate as bravely as Jesus did.

They tied Edmund to an ancient oak, and the archers strung their longbows.

“This can all stop,” Ivarr taunted. “Renounce your God, King Edmund. Renounce him now. If you do not, I will tell my archers to let loose with their arrows.”

The ropes cut into Edmund’s body, and he was afraid, but he raised his head, looked at Ivarr and said, “Forgive them. For they know not what they do.”

A medieval illumination depicting the death of Edmund the Martyr on 20 November 869 by the Vikings.

Ivarr snorted in amusement and turned away. The archers’ let loose their arrows. Edmund screamed, while the men around him laughed.

“Cut his head off when he is dead,” Ivarr instructed. He went back to his tent and did not once look back. Tomorrow was another day and there were more treasures to be found and more kingdoms to conquer.

The Vikings left a trail of destruction for Edmunds loyal warriors to follow. They found their King’s headless body tied to a tree with arrows protruding from it. They cut him down and began to search the clearing for their King’s head.

In desperation they began to comb the nearest woods.

“Where are you, great King?” Edmunds most trusted warrior asked under his breath.

“Here.” Edmund’s voice called back. “Here. Here.”

Edmunds warriors ran with new hope to where the voice came from. They skidded to a stop when they reached a small clearing. There, bathed in warm winter sunlight, stood a wolf. And between the wolf's paws lay the head of their King.

The warriors unsheathed their sword but much to their surprise the wolf bowed her noble head and backed away. A page cautiously walked towards the severed head. The wolf watched him for a moment, and then she turned and fled back into the wood.

They buried Edmund on a cold winters morning, and as they lowered the coffin, a wolf howled.

Upon exhumation of the body, many years later, a miracle had occurred. All the wounds, made by the arrows, on Edmund’s corpse had closed up, as if they were never there. But more surprisingly, Edmund’s head was reattached to his body, with a just thin silver scar around his neck.

Edmund being crowned by angels, from a 13th-century manuscript.

Mary Anne Yarde

Mary Anne Yarde is the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling Series — The Du Lac Chronicles. Set a generation after the fall of King Arthur, The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Briton and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed.

Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

Mary Anne loves to hear from readers. You can contact her by email:

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  1. This is an amazing story, and the history that goes along with it. Thanks for sharing!


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx