If asked who became King of England after the Battle of Hastings, most people, myself included, would say William the Conqueror, but in fact, it was Edgar the Etheling (or Ætheling to be correct, which means Prince).
There was no automatic succession to the English throne in 1066 and the king was elected by the Witangemot, or ‘wise-meeting’, a council of religious and political leaders.
After Harold Godwinson was killed at Hastings, the Witangemot gave the crown to Edgar, the great-nephew of the previous king, Edward the Confessor.
But Edgar was only fifteen years old and with William knocking on the gates of London, the Witan decided that discretion was the better part of valour, rescinded their decision and surrendered the boy to William.
That should have been the last we heard of Edgar, but he was made of sterner stuff.
He had been born in Hungary, the son of Edward the Exile who had lived there for most of his life after his own father, Edmund Ironside, had been defeated and killed in the conquest of England by King Cnut of Denmark in 1016.
Edgar was able to escape captivity in Normandy and became known as Edgar the Outlaw. He made several attempts to recover the English throne, invaded Scotland, attempted to conquer parts of Italy and Sicily and generally made a nuisance of himself throughout Europe.
He took part in the First Crusade of 1098 and may have joined the Byzantine elite band of axe-wielding, sea-going mercenaries known as the Varangian Guard.
Based in Constantinople and feared across the Mediterranean, the Varangian Guard was mostly made up of exiled Englishmen.
But Edgar’s story was to have a peaceful ending. When William the Conqueror’s fourth son, Henry I, married Edgar’s niece he pardoned the former boy king and Edgar died in Scotland in 1126 at the venerable age of seventy-five.
Unmarried and childless, Edgar was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England.