One of the leaders of the English resistance to the Norman Conquest.
Also known as;
Eadric Silvaticus, Eadric the 'Forester' or the 'Woodsman'
Eadric Salvagius, Eadric the Wild
and frequently rendered as Edric the Wild
According to Orderic Vitalis, many of the English rebels took to living in the open during the course of their campaigns against the invaders and were therefore called 'silvatici' or 'wood-dwellers' by the Normans. Hence Eadric by the same logic, may have gained his title as a result of a similar practice or possibly simply because of "his bodily activity and his rollicking talk and deeds"1.
Eadric was the son of one Aelfric and the nephew of the infamous Eadric Streona and it is very probable that he also had some close family connection with the Welsh kings of Gwynedd and Powys. Prior to the Norman Conquest our Eadric was a landowner in the border counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire; he does not appear to have been present at the battle of Hastings 2 and was therefore permitted to retain his lands after submitting to king William I soon after the latter's coronation.
It seems however that there was a history of animosity between Eadric and a Norman landholder by the name of Richard Fitz Scrob 3 who was seeking to extend his land holdings at the expense of Eadric.
In 1067 this dispute escalated into open rebellion. Eadric established an alliance with the two Welsh kings of Gwynedd , Bleddyn and Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn, and in the August of that year their combined forces devastated Herefordshire as far as the river Lugg.
Eadric the Wild and the Welsh rose in revolt and attacked the garrison at Hereford and inflicted heavy losses on them. 4
Eadric then retreated back into the hills, but re-emerged in 1069 with his Welsh
allies and together with reinforcements from Chester
launched an assault on the Norman
garrison at Shrewsbury
. Roger of Montgomery
, the earl of Shrewsbury
arrived to raise the siege on the castle there, but not before the besiegers had burnt and looted the town.
Of course, the year 1069 saw a widespread revolt against Norman rule in England; there was a major rising ongoing in the north-east and two of the late king Harold's sons came over from Ireland that same year to raid the west country. But Harold's were defeated by the earl Brian of Penthievre and William had soon bludgeoned the north-east into submission.
William was soon crossing the Pennines to meet this additional challenge, joined forces with the men of the earl Brian, and confronted and defeated the Anglo-Welsh rebels at the battle of Stafford. Eadric however seems to have scuttled off to the hills prior to the battle. When the subsequent revolt in the west country also fizzled out it must have become apparent to Eadric that further resistance was pointless and in the late summer of 1070 he made his peace with William I and in 1072 even accompanied William on his invasion of Scotland.
What happened to Eadric after then is not clear, The Domesday Book only mentions 'Eadric salvage' as the former tenant of a number of manors in Shropshire and Herefordshire, it is clear he had ceased to be a landholder by 1086. He must therefore have died or otherwise been deprived of his lands sometime before that date.
The fourteenth century Wigmore Abbey Chronicle suggests that at sometime after 1072, Eadric retreated back into a stronghold he established in the Welsh cantref of Maelienydd and fought a number of battles against Ralph Mortimer, the earl of Shrewsbury. He was finally defeated and captured by Ralph Mortimer, delivered up in chains to William I where he spent the remainder of his life in captivity.
Whatever the truth about his eventual demise, the short career of Eadric the Wild, together with his contemporaries such as Waltheof Siwardson and the semi-legendary Hereward the Wake serve as a reminder that a substantial portion of the English population remained fundamentally opposed to the idea of being ruled by a Frenchman and were prepared to continue their resistance despite the defeat at Hastings.
There is also the legend that Eadric married either a fairy or an elf, a tale that follows a similar pattern to other such tales. His otherworldly bride agrees to marry him as long he promises not to speak ill of her sisters; naturally he eventually breaks this promise, his wife promptly disappears and poor Eadric then pines away and dies. Other legends associate Eadric with the Wild Hunt, and say that Eadric lies sleeping under the Shropshire Hills and re-appears to lead the Hunt in a ghostly procession across the sky whenever England is in danger.
1 From the De Nugis Curialium, 'The Book of Coutier’s Trifles' compiled in the 1180s by Walter Map.
2 Generally speaking any English nobleman who had fought against William at Hastings had his lands taken from him.
3 Richard Fitz Scrob was one of the many Normans favoured by Edward the Confessor and who had held various manors in Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and Shropshire since the late 1040's, and who subsequently became the castellan of Hereford after 1066.
4 From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
- S. Reynolds, Eadric Silvaticus and the English Resistance
Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research Vol LIV No 129 (University of London, 1981)
- G. Points, Edric The Wild from Widowinde 117 at
- The Conquest and its aftermath from