Edwy surnamed the Fair, eldest son of king Edmund, succeeded his uncle Eldred as king of England in 955, while his brother Edgar became viceroy of Mercia. Edwy had married Alfriga, the daughter of a noble matron, and was affectionately attached to his young wife. The monks, at the head of whom were Dunstan and archbishop Odo, had, during the reign of Eldred, exerted a great influence at the court; but the young king rejected their councils, and this appears to have made them jealous of Alfriga, believing her to be the cause of this change; and when, on the occasion of his coronation, the king left his court for a time, Dunstan, who had watched for an opportunity to revenge himself on the queen, rushed to her chamber, tore the king from her arms, and brought him back to his courtiers. In revenge for this indignity, Edwy not only banished Dunstan (956), but extended his hatred to the monks generally. Odo declared the marriage unlawful, carried the queen a prisoner to Ireland, and ordered her face to be branded with a red-hot iron. Her wounds soon healing, she recovered her former beauty, and returned to Gloucester. Here she was discovered by Odo's emissaries, and was treated with such cruelty as to cause her death. When Edwy attempted to resist this violence of the monks, Odo formed a conspiracy against him with Edgar, supported by the Mercians and Northumbrians, and he was deprived of the larger part of his kingdom — all England north of the Thames. He survived the partition of his kingdom only a few months, and died before the end of the year 959. While the monks represent king Edwy as licentious and a maladministrator, Huntingdon, who was no party in the quarrel, gives him a handsome character, reports that the country flourished under his administration, and that Odo and Dunstan became his enemies because he was unwilling to submit to the severity of monastic rulers. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Gener. 15:692; Mackintosh, History of England, 1:55 sq.; Wright, Biographia

Brit. Lit. (A.S.P.) 430 sq.; Collier, Ecclesiastes History, 1:430 sq.; Edinb. Rev. 25 and 42.

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