Seeking Alfred's Body: Royal Tomb as Political Object in the Reign of Edward the Elder
This article addresses a crux in the Fonthill Letter: why Helmstan, an outlawed thief, visited King Alfred's grave. This episode coincided with a succession dispute in which Alfred's son, Edward the Elder, was resisting a challenge for the kingdom. To enhance his legitimacy, Edward celebrated his father's legacy and promoted his grave, building Alfred a monumental mausoleum. Edward removed Helmstan's outlawry after the visit – a reversal that resembles instances in which condemned criminals were spared punishment after seeking sanctuary protection. I propose that as part of his political efforts, Edward offered comparable clemency to offenders who visited Alfred's grave.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Marafioti, N. (2015). Seeking Alfred's body: Royal tomb as political object in the reign of Edward the elder. Early Medieval Europe, 23(2), 202-228. doi: 10.1111/emed.12097
Early Medieval Europe