She is one of the few known women who not only held a role within the household as mother and lady – and within the court, as daughter and wife to kings – but also wielded power on the battlefield. She brought extra prestige to her newly founded church there by securing a most precious relic: the body of the kingly Saint Oswald. And the way in which she used her influence helped to make possible the unification of England under kings of the West Saxon royal house. His relics had languished in Viking-held Bardney in Lincolnshire, but Æthelflæd managed to return them to Mercia. [58] According to a version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle strongly sympathetic to Edward the Elder, after Æthelflæd's death "the kings among the Welsh, Hywel and Clydog and Idwal, and all the Welsh people sought to have [Edward] as their lord". In 877 the Vikings partitioned Mercia, taking the eastern regions for themselves and allowing Ceolwulf to keep the western ones. [48] In Wessex, royal women were not allowed to play any political role; Alfred's wife was not granted the title of queen and was never a witness to charters. By this time she is married to Æthelred of Mercia. Thereafter the two kingdoms became allies, which was to be an important factor in English resistance to the Vikings. She understood the importance of aligning herself with other powerful rulers and supported her brother, Edward, in his reconquest of Mercian territories in the Danelaw. Æthelred was the lord of Mercia and the husband of Æthelflæd . She is the daughter of Alfred and Ælswith . In the Midlands and the North she came to dominate the political scene. [22] Mercian scholarship had high prestige at the courts of Alfred and Edward. After her death, west Mercian coin reverses were again the same as those on coins produced in Wessex. We’re first introduced to Aethelflaed, the future iron lady of Mercia, in the first season of Netflix’s The Last Kingdom. The historian Ann Williams regards this view as partial and distorted, that he was accepted as a true king by the Mercians and by King Alfred. It did not suffer major attacks and it did not come under great pressure from Wessex. Stafford sees her as a "warrior queen", "Like ... Elizabeth I she became a wonder to later ages. Æthelflæd was not content to be simply a bearer of heirs. Æthelflæd, described only as "my eldest daughter", received an estate and 100 mancuses, while Æthelred, the only ealdorman to be mentioned by name, received a sword worth 100 mancuses. She is a medieval marvel, but she has been overshadowed by the men who surrounded her in life – her father, Alfred the Great; her husband, Æthelred of Mercia (a kingdom in what is now central England); and her ultimate successor, her nephew, Æthelstan, ‘the king of the whole of Britain’. Edward had succeeded as King of the Anglo-Saxons in 899, and in 909 he sent a West Saxon and Mercian force to raid the northern Danelaw. Securing the fealty of the Danes of York would have been Æthelflæd’s ultimate achievement. [6][e] She was succeeded as Lady of the Mercians by her daughter, Ælfwynn, but in early December 918 Edward deposed her and took Mercia under his control. [14] Æthelflæd was thus half-Mercian and the alliance between Wessex and Mercia was sealed by her marriage to Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians. She was the eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and his wife Ealhswith. [82], In June 2018, Æthelflæd's funeral was re-enacted in front of a crowd of 10,000 people in Gloucester, as part of a series of living history events marking the 1,100th anniversary of her death. The East Anglians were forced to buy peace and the following year the Vikings invaded Northumbria, where they appointed a puppet king in 867. Eldest child of King Alfred of Wessex, Aethelflaed was cherished by her father and received an education normally reserved for a royal son. Mercia itself had not been a proper, independent kingdom for many years. Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians (c. 870 – 12 June 918) ruled Mercia in the English Midlands from 911 until her death. In 917 she sent an army to capture Derby, the first of the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw to fall to the English, a victory described by Tim Clarkson as "her greatest triumph". Æthelstan, the eldest son of Edward the Elder and future king of England, was brought up in their court and, in the view of Martin Ryan, certainly joined their campaigns against the Vikings. Qui est le vrai père de Aelfwynn ? Lady Aethelflaed has been one of the main characters in The Last Kingdom story since her introduction in the first season and the ‘Lady of Mercia’ remains incredibly popular with fans. This was the only occasion in Alfred's lifetime when they are known to have acted jointly; generally Æthelred acted on his own, usually acknowledging the permission of King Alfred. How Æthelflæd and her family shaped England, episode of Anglo-Saxon Portraits on Æthelflæd. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. The series has deviated from the books in terms of relationships, as fans have revealed Uhtred and Aethelflaed remained a couple of a while, before separating. [15] They are mentioned in Alfred's will, which probably dates to the 880s. It was on to this tumultuous stage that Æthelflæd stepped. You can unsubscribe at any time. The Norse Vikings then joined with the Danes in an attack on Chester, but this failed because Æthelflæd had fortified the town, and she and her husband persuaded the Irish among the attackers to change sides. Æthelflæd grew up in a world divided. He commented: "It was through reliance on her guardianship of Mercia that her brother was enabled to begin the forward movement against the southern Danes which is the outstanding feature of his reign". She began her career in 2014, playing the daughter of Selfridge's tycoon, Harry Gordon Selfridge in ITV's 'Mr Selfridge'. [57], Little is known of Æthelflæd's relations with the Welsh. Æthelred died in 911 and Æthelflæd then ruled Mercia as Lady of the Mercians. The accession of a female ruler in Mercia is described by the historian Ian Walker as "one of the most unique events in early medieval history". In Nick Higham's view, medieval and modern writers have been so captivated by her that Edward's reputation has suffered unfairly in comparison. There is a wealth of evidence to support the contention that Mercia was a force to be reckoned with in the Anglo-Saxon period. You will shortly receive a receipt for your purchase via email. The most famous are Boudicca, her chariot complete with spiked wheels, and the armoured teenager, Joan of Arc. By Billy Oduory 15 minutes ago If Aethelred had given Aethelflaed a chance to be a partner and friend, he would have achieved his ambition of becoming a true King of Mercia. Then, over more than a decade, a coalition of Norse warriors took land in all the major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms – except Wessex, which had so far managed to defy them. But it also contains, especially for our period, much genuine historical information which seems to have its roots in a contemporary narrative. As the Danes were ready to offer her their submission, she died (possibly of dysentery) on 12 June 918 and was taken to be buried with her husband at St Oswald’s Priory in Gloucester. So, while Bernard Cornwell’s novels and the BBC series The Last Kingdom are cavalier with the historical facts, perhaps they are right to give Æthelflæd a major role. [86], This article was submitted to WikiJournal of Humanities for external academic peer review in 2018 (reviewer reports). The town was one of the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw, together with Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford. Soon afterwards the English-controlled western half of Mercia came under the rule of Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians, who accepted Alfred's overlordship. Her name most likely means “overflowing with nobility” according to scholar Joanna Arman (32). [56] In the Three Fragments, Æthelflæd also formed a defensive alliance with the Scots and the Strathclyde British, a claim accepted by Clarkson. Æthelflæd erscheint hier als eine der Hauptpersonen in der zweiten Staffel, wobei einige der dargestellten Ereignisse (z. [7] Brief details of her actions were preserved in a pro-Mercian version of the Chronicle known as the Mercian Register or the Annals of Æthelflæd; although it is now lost, elements were incorporated into several surviving versions of the Chronicle. In Wessex, the role of royal women was one of subservience: Æthelflæd’s mother had only ever held the title of ‘wife of the king’ and signed no charters with her husband. [10] In the twelfth century, Henry of Huntingdon paid her his own tribute: Some historians believe that Æthelred and Æthelflæd were independent rulers. Æthelflæd was born around 870 at the height of the Viking invasions of England. Hywel Dda was king of Dyfed in south-west Wales, Clydog ap Cadell probably king of Powys in the north-east, and Idwal ab Anarawd king of Gwynedd in the north-west. Æthelred's health probably declined early in the next decade, after which it is likely that Æthelflæd was mainly responsible for the government of Mercia. [35] After Æthelflæd's death, Edward encountered fierce resistance to his efforts to consolidate his control of the north-west and he died there in 924, shortly after suppressing a local rebellion. He argues that King Edward was anxious not to encourage Mercian separatism and did not wish to publicise his sister's accomplishments, in case she became a symbol of Mercian claims. The version of record as reviewed is: "Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians" (PDF), WikiJournal of Humanities, 1 (1): 1, 2018, doi:10.15347/WJH/2018.001, ISSN 2639-5347, Wikidata cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit}, This article is about the Lady of the Mercians. [c] According to the Three Fragments, the Norse (Norwegian) Vikings were expelled from Dublin and then made an abortive attack on Wales. Equally, there is some confusion over the circumstances of his death. They then moved on Mercia, where they spent the winter of 867–868. In 909 Edward sent a West Saxon and Mercian force to the northern Danelaw, where it raided for five weeks. It is in this context that the establishment of a new minster at Gloucester by Æthelred and Æthelflæd is to be seen. Dr Janina Ramirez lectures in art history at Oxford University, is a BBC documentary maker and president of Gloucester History Festival, LISTEN: BBC Radio 3’s episode of Anglo-Saxon Portraits on Æthelflæd, This article was first published in the June 2018 edition of BBC History Magazine, Save over 50% on a gift subscription to their favourite history magazine. Many of these cities owe their existence to her efforts. Three Viking kings were reported to have been killed, and as a result, the image of Æthelflæd, warrior queen, bearing three royal swords was born. It is now that she should be remembered as mother, diplomat, warrior and queen. [62], Æthelflæd died at Tamworth on 12 June 918 and her body was carried 75 miles (121 km) to Gloucester, where she was buried with her husband in their foundation, St Oswald's Minster. Other sources confirm that the Norse were driven out of Dublin in 902 and that Æthelflæd fortified Chester in 907. She may also have translated the relics of the martyred Northumbrian prince Ealhmund from Derby to Shrewsbury. Derby was the first to fall to the English; she lost "four of her thegns who were dear to her" in the battle. Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians (c. 870 – 12 June 918) ruled Mercia in the English Midlands from 911 until her death. 'The Last Kingdom' Season 4 Review: Uhtred's love for Aethelflaed furthers Alfred's dream of a united England. [5] Alfred died in 899 and Edward's claim to the throne was disputed by Æthelwold, son of Alfred's elder brother. Æthelflæd witnessed charters of Æthelred in 888, 889 and 896. As a wife, however, Æthelflæd’s story is all too familiar in terms of royal dynastic marriages. Everything you ever wanted to know about... lands administered by the Danes (the Danelaw), Æthelwold: Alfred the Great’s rebel nephew. "[9] She was praised by Anglo-Norman chroniclers such as William of Malmesbury and John of Worcester[10] and she has received more attention from historians than any other secular woman in Anglo-Saxon England. [21], Compared to the rest of England, much of English Mercia —Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire —was unusually stable in the Viking age. In January 878 Viking invaders swooped down on the palace at Chippenham in Wiltshire where Alfred and his family were staying. As he became increasingly ill she assumed more of his responsibilities, including arranging diplomatic agreements and refurbishing many of the towns. [4], Ceolwulf is not recorded after 879. She is mentioned in Alfred’s will, where he leaves her an estate plus 100 pounds, while her husband is bequeathed a precious sword. As the rights of lordship had previously belonged fully to the church, this represented the beginning of transfer from episcopal to secular control of the city. [60] No charters of Edward survive for the period between 910 and his death in 924,[61] whereas two survive in Æthelflæd's sole name, S 224, possibly dating to 914 and S 225, dated 9 September 915, issued at Weardbyrig, one of the burhs she built at an unidentified location. For a start, it could be that her own brother had her largely written out of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle so as not to promote separatism between Wessex and Mercia. Through the course of Season 4, he stands by her bringing her victories and men when she needs them the most Edward did not conquer the Viking Kingdom of York in southern Northumbria. She gave her husband one daughter, but William of Malmesbury suggests she shied away from “marital obligations” because of the risks she knew it posed her life. His successor as the ruler of the English western half of Mercia, Æthelflæd's husband Æthelred, is first seen in 881 when, according to the historian of medieval Wales, Thomas Charles-Edwards, he led an unsuccessful Mercian invasion of the north Welsh Kingdom of Gwynedd. A joint Anglo-Saxon army headed them off at Tettenhall and massacred them there. [55] According to the Three Fragments, in 918 Æthelflæd led an army of Scots and Northumbrian English against forces led by the Norse Viking leader Ragnall at the Battle of Corbridge in Northumbria. When this failed they applied to Æthelflæd, her husband being ill, for permission to settle near Chester. When Æthelred died in 911, his wife was declared ‘Lady of the Mercians’ and took over control of the kingdom. But there is one warrior woman who is less celebrated. In the 12th century, the historian Henry of Huntingdon declared Æthelflæd to be “so powerful that in praise and exaltation of her wonderful gifts, some call her not only lady, but even king”. [50] Alfred had constructed a network of fortified burhs in Wessex, and Edward and Æthelflæd now embarked on a programme of extending them to consolidate their defences and provide bases for attacks on the Vikings. [69] Irish and Welsh annals described her as a queen and the Annals of Ulster, which ignore the deaths of Alfred and Edward, described her as famosissima regina Saxonum (renowned Saxon queen). [79] In Wainwright's view, she was ignored in West Saxon sources for fear that recognition of her achievements would encourage Mercian separatism: [Æthelflæd] played a vital role in England in the first quarter of the tenth century. In Higham's view, Keynes makes a strong case that Edward ruled over an Anglo-Saxon state with a developing administrative and ideological unity but that Æthelflæd and Æthelred did much to encourage a separate Mercian identity, such as establishing cults of Mercian saints at their new burhs, as well as reverence for their great Northumbrian royal saint at Gloucester: There must remain some doubt as to the extent to which Edward's intentions for the future were shared in all respects by his sister and brother-in-law, and one is left to wonder what might have occurred had their sole offspring been male rather than female. © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2016 | a division of NBCUniversal International Studios | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy A translation of the Mercian Register is an appendix in Tim Clarkson's biography of Æthelflæd. To secure power in Anglo-Saxon England, you first needed the support of ‘ealdormen’ (high-ranking royal officials). She known for her roles in 'The Last Kingdom' and 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'. [33] Æthelflæd re-founded Chester as a burh and she is believed to have enhanced its Roman defences by running walls from the north-west and south-east corners of the fort to the River Dee. He claimed that she declined to have sex after the birth of her only child because it was "unbecoming of the daughter of a king to give way to a delight which, after a time, produced such painful consequences". Instead, it was the battle of Tettenhall (in modern-day Wolverhampton) eight years earlier in 910 that secured her image as victorious warrior queen. [23] Worcester was able to preserve considerable intellectual and liturgical continuity and, with Gloucester, became the centre of a Mercian revival under Æthelred and Æthelflæd that extended into the more unstable areas of Staffordshire and Cheshire. Tim Clarkson's biography has a detailed discussion of Æthelflæd' burhs. Video - "The Last Kingdom" Season 3 Music - Natalie Taylor - In the air tonight Daughter of the king of Wessex and his wife (a Mercian noble, possibly royal, woman), Æthelflæd was a precious commodity. He praised her as “worthy of a man’s name” and “more illustrious than Caesar”. They returned with the remains of the royal Northumbrian saint, Oswald, which were translated to the new Gloucester minster. In 917 her troops reconquered the Viking city of Derby, a critical victory as this had been one of the ‘Five Boroughs of the Danelaw’. Ahead of series four of The Last Kingdom, we revisit a feature by Janina Ramirez in which she reveals how the wife, mother, diplomat – and, above all, warrior-queen – left an indelible mark on Anglo-Saxon England in the 10th century. [40] It was initially dedicated to St Peter but when Oswald's remains were brought to Gloucester in 909, Æthelflæd had them translated from Bardney to the new minster, which was renamed St Oswald's in his honour. Æthelflæd’s reputation as a canny ruler extended, not only through the English-speaking world, but over the waters, reaching the ears of her Viking foes. [11], Æthelflæd was born around 870, the oldest child of King Alfred the Great and his Mercian wife, Ealhswith, who was a daughter of Æthelred Mucel, ealdorman of the Gaini, one of the tribes of Mercia. Among the towns where she built defences were Wednesbury, Bridgnorth, Tamworth, Stafford, Warwick, Chirbury and Runcorn. Lorsqu’il s’est agi de déterminer le vrai père de la fille de d’Aethelflaed, Aelfwynn.The Last Kingdom a déchiré les livres d’histoire et a introduit un peu de sang danois dans la lignée royale. Gwent in south-east Wales was already under West Saxon lordship but, in the view of Charles-Edwards, this passage shows that the other Welsh kingdoms were under Mercian lordship until Edward took direct power over Mercia. Mercia was the dominant kingdom in southern England in the eighth century and maintained its position until it suffered a decisive defeat by Wessex at the Battle of Ellandun in 825. [19] In the view of Ian Walker: "He was a royal ealdorman whose power base lay in the south-west of Mercia in the former kingdom of the Hwicce around Gloucester". [b] Ealhswith's mother, Eadburh, was a member of the Mercian royal house, probably a descendant of King Coenwulf (796–821). [49], When Æthelred died, Edward took control of the Mercian towns of London and Oxford and their hinterlands, which Alfred had put under Mercian control. Theirs was an entirely political union, designed to strengthen the two kingdoms against Danish and Norwegian incursions in the north. The next year she secured Leicester, and from there made her way towards the prestigious Viking-held city of York. Yet, in the end, it was Boudicca who would come to captivate as ‘warrior woman’ under Elizabeth I, possibly because of their legendary shared red hair. [6], The most important source for history in this period is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle but Æthelflæd is almost ignored in the standard West Saxon version, in what F. T. Wainwright calls "a conspiracy of silence". [38] The remains of the royal Northumbrian saint Oswald were seized and taken from his resting place in Bardney Abbey in Lincolnshire to Gloucester. In 918 Leicester surrendered without a fight. Aethelflaed: who was the warrior queen who crushed the Vikings? "[77] According to Charles Insley, The assumption that Mercia was in some sort of limbo in this period, subordinate to Wessex and waiting to be incorporated into "England" cannot be sustained ... Æthelred's death in 911 changed little, for his formidable wife carried on as sole ruler of Mercia until her death in 918. A few months later, the leading men of Danish-ruled York offered to pledge their loyalty to Æthelflæd, probably to secure her support against Norse raiders from Ireland, but she died on 12 June 918, before she could take advantage of the offer.