Aethelred of Wessex, King of Mercia

Male ~847 - 911

Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    Event Map    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Aethelred of Wessex 
    Suffix King of Mercia 
    Born ~847  Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Also Known As Ethelred I  [3, 4
    Died 911  [1, 2
    Buried Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Person ID I51063  The Hennessee Family
    Last Modified 19 Oct 2019 

    Father Aethelwulf of Wessex, King of Wessex,   b. (~820), Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Jan 0858 
    Mother Osburga, Queen Consort of Wessex,   b. ~810, Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. ~849 
    Married Y  [5, 6
    Family ID F18785  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians,   b. ~870, (Wessex) England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Jun 918, Tamworth, Gloucester, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 886  [1, 7
     1. Aelfwynn,   b. Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 23 Oct 2022 
    Family ID F19011  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - ~847 - Wessex, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Notes 
    • ¥thelred I (Old English: ¥¤elrµd, sometimes rendered as Ethelred, "noble counsel"; c.?847[a] – 871) was King of Wessex from 865 to 871. He was the fourth son of King ¥thelwulf of Wessex. He succeeded his brother, ¥thelberht (Ethelbert), as King of Wessex and Kent in 865.[3][4]

      Early life

      Coin of King ¥thelred
      In 853 his younger brother Alfred went to Rome, and according to contemporary references in the Liber Vitae of San Salvatore, Brescia, ¥thelred accompanied him.[5] He first witnessed his father's charters as an ¥theling in 854, and kept this title until he succeeded to the throne in 865. He may have acted as an underking as early as 862, and in 862 and 863 he issued charters as King of the West Saxons. This must have been as deputy or in the absence of his elder brother, King ¥thelberht, as there is no record of conflict between them and he continued to witness his brother's charters as a king's son in 864.[1][6]

      In the same year as ¥thelred's succession as king (865), a great Viking army arrived in England, and within five years they had destroyed two of the principal English kingdoms, Northumbria and East Anglia.

      In 868 ¥thelred's brother-in-law, Burgred king of Mercia, appealed to him for help against the Vikings. ¥thelred and his brother, the future Alfred the Great, led a West Saxon army to Nottingham, but there was no decisive battle, and Burgred bought off the Vikings.[1] In 874 the Vikings defeated Burgred and drove him into exile.[7]

      In 870 the Vikings turned their attention to Wessex, and on 4 January 871 at the Battle of Reading, ¥thelred suffered a heavy defeat.[8] Although he was able to re-form his army in time to win a victory at the Battle of Ashdown,[9] he suffered further defeats on 22 January at Basing,[10] and 22 March at Meretun.

      In about 867, ¥thelred effectively established a common currency between Wessex and Mercia by adopting the Mercian type of lunette penny, and coins minted exclusively at London and Canterbury then circulated in the two kingdoms.[11]

      ¥thelred died shortly after Easter (15 April) 871,[12] and is buried at Wimborne Minster in Dorset.[13] He was succeeded by his younger brother, Alfred the Great.


      ¥thelred's wife was probably called Wulfthryth. A charter of 868 refers to Wulfthryth regina (queen). It was rare in ninth century Wessex for the king's wife to be given the title queen, and it is only definitely known to have been given to ¥thelwulf's second wife, Judith of Flanders.[14] Historians Barbara Yorke[15] and Pauline Stafford,[16] and the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England,[17] treat the charter as showing that Wulfthryth was ¥thelred's queen. She might have been the daughter[18] or sister of Ealdorman Wulfhere of Wiltshire, who forfeited his lands charged with deserting King Alfred for the Danes in about 878.[19][20] However, Sean Miller in his Oxford Online DNB article on ¥thelred does not mention her.[1] Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge in the notes to their 1983 edition of Asser's Life of King Alfred the Great refer to a "mysterious 'Wulfthryth regina'",[21] but Keynes stated in 1994 that she was "presumably the wife of King ¥thelred".[22]

      ¥thelred had two known sons, ¥thelhelm and ¥thelwold.[b] ¥thelwold disputed the throne with Edward the Elder after Alfred's death in 899. ¥thelred's descendants include the tenth-century historian, ¥thelweard, and ¥thelnoth, an eleventh-century Archbishop of Canterbury.

      end of biography [2]

  • Sources 
    1. [S12463] "Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians", Martha ann Millsaps,, submitted this report, https://www.ancient.

    2. [S12494] "Aethelred of Wessex", Biography,, abstracted by David A. Hennesse.

    3. [S12594] "Redburga",,

    4. [S12595] "The House of Wessex",,

    5. [S12118] "Alfred the Great", Biography,, retrieved or revisited, recorded & upload.

    6. [S12136] "Osburh", Biography,, retrieved or revisited, recorded & uploaded to the website,.

    7. [S12928] "Aethelflaed: The warrior queen who broke the glass ceiling",.