BATTLE OF STAFFORD
The Battle of Stafford took place in 1069, it's location has never been
identified. This battle involved King William (William the Conqueror) and the Welsh followers of Edric The Wild, a Mercian Earl and men from
Shropshire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire who were still loyal to their Anglo Saxon leaders. It is said that during the
battle much blood flowed on both sides. This battle was also known as the Western Uprising. There are in fields near the ancient
trackways and close to Stafford Castle the remains of a medieval cross and several areas with the word CROSS in them, evidence
of the battle?
The story of Edric The Wild and this uprising was recorded as follows:
Edric the Wild was a land owner who owned or leased land in the counties of
Shropshire and Herefordshire in the Welsh Marcherland. As far as we know Edric was not at Hastings, else his lands would have
been taken from him by William the Bastard, There is some evidence that he was the Bishop of Worcester's 'shipman', and thus
would have been at sea at the time, blockading the Norman beachhead. Whatever the reason he was not at Hastings, the
chronicler, Orderic Vitalis, says that he submitted to King William soon after William's coronation.
In 1067 two Norman Earls in the Welsh Marcherlands, used the confusion caused by William's seizing of the throne, to extend their
land holdings at the expense of the local English thanes, especially those lands held by Edric, soon to become known as 'the Wild.
There was already bad blood between Edric and his Norman neighbours and now it exploded into open warfare. In revenge for raids on
his land Edric, in alliance with two Welsh princes, Bleddyn and Rhiwallon, devastated Herefordshire and eventually sacked the
city of Hereford itself, before retreating back into the hills ahead of the new king's revengeful army. As far as is know,
William did not make any attempt to gain Edric's submission.
Then, in 1069, the late King Harold's sons, who were based in Ireland, raided the west country for a second time. Unfortunately
for them they met defeat at the hands of Eari Brian of Penthievre, and fled back to Ireland. At the same time Edric the Wild and his
Welsh allies had broken out from their Marcher hills and took Shrewsbury before moving on to Chester. William had to leave them to their
own devices as he had his hand's full dealing with an uprising in Northumberland lead by the English Earl of Northumberland Morkar and his
brother Earl Edwin of Mercia, supported by the Danish king, Swein Esthrithson, who also had a claim to the English throne. Fighting
alongside them were the Earls Waltheof and Gospatrick, together with Edgar /Etheling. The Normans in York were slaughtered, with Earl
Waltheof s exploit of slaying a hundred Frenchmen with his long-axe as they tried to escape through a gate, ending up in heroic verse.
William moved north again laying waste as he went The Danes took to their ships and commenced raiding the east coast, seeking assistance
from their relations in the Danelaw part of England, which included the marshy wetlands of the Fens, where other trouble was brewing.
William left part of his army to watch them whilst he crossed the Pennine hills to face the threat posed by Edric and the
Welsh princes, who now had a formidable army bolstered by the men of Cheshire and Staffordshire. William rode with his men
and joined Earl Brian, who had marched up from the west country after beating Harold's sons. Edric became wary and withdrew
to the hills with his Herefordshire and Shropshire men. The Welsh, with the remaining English, marched on and were defeated
at the battle of Stafford. William then devastated the land about and laid it waste. A further revolt in the west country,
that seemed to be aimed at individual Normans, fizzled out in the face of forces drawn from London and the south east and
through internal dissent amongst the insurgents.
Edric is said to have reached an accommodation with King William in 1070,
and in 1072 he accompanied William on his punitive expedition to Scotland.
In 1075 there was another revolt against William, this one involved Roger, Earl of Hereford. Some historians believe that Edric
was also involved, and thus lost his lands. But no-one really knows as Edric by then has vanished from recorded history. He certainly
wasn't a land-holder by the time of the Domesday survey.
That is the historical Edric the Wild, but there is also a legendary Edric the Wild.
According to one legend he married a fairy or elvan maid. Another has him leading the Wild Hunt or Fairy Raed. In this
version of the legend, the Wild Hunt only rides when England is threaten with invasion. Edric, and his wife, either called
Gondul or Goda, leads the Wild Hunt towards the foe. Edric and the Hunt have been publicly reported as having ridden in the
months prior to the Crimean War, the First World War and the Second World War.