That’s something I’ve heard my entire life. When I was younger and picked on at school my father would sometimes say “Don’t worry, Jamie, what goes around comes around.” The problem with that bit of advice is that it requires a sense of fairness in the world that isn’t always there… not to mention a tremendous amount of patience that is short supply when you’re a small awkward kid being picked on and simply want some sort of justice.
But sometimes it does happen… sometimes what goes around does come around.
Ok, so why am I talking about this?
Well… let’s have a very quick review of what has happened with Edwin. True, he had a rough start, since he first appeared in our story while he was on the run because AEthelfrith of Bernicia had nicked the throne of Deira and was hunting down Edwin and his family. Now the sources are silent on his involvement on AEthelfrith’s conquest of Deira, and some have suggested that Edwin might have been complicit in a coup… and basically it didn’t go the way he hoped. But whatever the case, Edwin was on the run when he appeared in our story and spent his early years going from kingdom to kingdom, seeking refuge while his family was being wiped out, and the kingdoms that offered him shelter found themselves embroiled in war.
While on the run, he married Cwenburg, the princess of Mercia, and had two sons with her. He also was sheltered by the King of Gwynedd (and probably was the foster brother of Cadwallon of Gwynedd, who was about his same age)… and as you already know, war followed him and eventually he ended up in East Anglia where King Raedwald killed AEthelfrith (after the great king lost his own son in that battle) and then he put Edwin on the throne of Northumbria.
And following that moment, Edwin seems to have gone about getting some strike back and we’re told that he killed the king of the neighboring kingdom of Elmet, probably for poisoning Edwin’s nephew. He also started dominating his neighboring kingdoms, for example he controlled much of eastern Mercia, and being that he held an absurdly powerful kingdom and had the support of the only other serious military power in the Anglo Saxon region at the time, East Anglia, it wasn’t like there was much that his neighbors could do to stop him. And where he couldn’t directly challenge the power of a kingdom, such as with the Kingdom of Kent who were powerful in their own right and also had extremely powerful Frankish allies, he found other ways to secure his position. In the case of Kent, it was through marriage to Princess AEthelburh. And with the princess came the introduction of Christianity (though as you know, Edwin wasn’t immediately convinced), and the marriage also brought four more children… Eanflæd, Ethelhun, Wuscfrea and Edwen.