History's HEROES? 872 - 918


Who was she?

Things you may not know about Æthelflæd

She was likely to have been well educated. More
On the way to her wedding, she was attacked by the Danes. More
King Edward’s son, later King Athelstan, was brought up in Æthelflæd’s court. More
She was a very powerful presence. More
She was a caring and popular ruler. More
She won the trust and respect of the Vikings as well as the Saxons. More
She was an important tactician and negotiator. More
Nobody knows how Æthelflæd died. More
She was determined that Mercia should stay united with Wessex, as an important step to a united England. More
Queen Eadgyth, Æthelflæd's neice and sister to Athelstan, is the oldest member of the English royal family whose remains have been definitely identified. More

Æthelflæd in brief

Lady of the Mercians

Æthelflæd was the was the eldest child of a great king, Alfred of Wessex. She jointly ruled Mercia with her husband, leading the battle against the Danes in the Midlands and the North and working to unite England.  After her husband's death in 911, she became the sole ruler of Mercia and became known as ‘The Lady of the Mercians'.

She personally led expeditions against the Vikings. The threat that the Danes would take over all of Mercia and Wessex was very real and, without her input, all could have been lost. The military alliance between Æthelflæd and her brother King Edward was an outstanding success.

Like her father, she proved to be an objective and discerning leader, raising fortifications, refortifying crumbling Roman strongholds and building a number of fortified towns along the border. The association of Æthelflæd and her brother Edward saw the Saxon forces push further into Danish-held territory, until little of Mercia remained under Viking control. 

She was not only a great warrior but also a clever tactician and negotiator. Formidable and warrior-like but just and fair, she won the admiration and respect of the people of Wessex and Mercia. Both English and Danes mourned her death.

Æthelflæd Picture Gallery

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