Aethelwulf of Wessex Timeline

Aethelwulf of Wessex Timeline

  • 825

    The Battle of Ellandun; Aethelwulf participates under his father King Egbert of Wessex; Mercia is defeated.

  • c. 826 - 839

    Aethelwulf serves as sub-king of Kent, Essex, Sussex, and Surrey under Egbert of Wessex.

  • 839 - 858

    Reign of Aethelwulf, King of Wessex.

  • 843

    Aethelwulf is defeated by Viking armies at Carmouth.

  • 844 - 855

    Aethelwulf issues his Decimation Charters.

  • 851

    Aethelwulf defeats Viking invasion of Wessex.

  • c. 854

    Aethelwulf goes on pilgrimage to Rome with young Alfred the Great.

  • c. 856

    Alfred marries Judith, daughter of Charles the Bald of the Kingdom of West Francia.

  • 858

    Aethelwulf dies; Kingdom is divided between his sons Aethelbald and Aethelberht.


  • Aethelbald was the second son of Aethelwulf, King of Wessex.
  • Little is known about his childhood. His name first appears in the 840s when he witnessed one of his father&rsquos charters.
  • In 850, King Aethelwulf promoted him to the rank of ealdorman.
  • In 855, King Aethelwulf went on a pilgrimage to Rome. During this pilgrimage, Aethalbald&rsquos youngest brother Alfred was recognized by the Pope and his father married the 13-year-old daughter of Charles the Bald.
  • During his father&rsquos pilgrimage, Aethelbald was promoted to Regent of Wessex.
  • Upon his father&rsquos return from Rome, Aethelbald refused to step down from his position and began to plot against his father. He believed his father&rsquos marriage to Judith was a threat to his chances of inheriting his father&rsquos throne.
  • Aethelbald&rsquos plot to force his father off the throne was supported by many other leaders in Wessex. They sought to prevent Aethelwulf&rsquos return from Europe.
  • Aethelbald&rsquos plot did not work as King Aethelwulf returned from Europe with his young wife. To prevent a civil war, Aethelwulf allowed his son to rule the western part of his realm. King Aethelwulf&rsquos father, King Egbert did something similar with Aethelwulf in Kent.
  • In 858, King Aethelwulf died. After his death, the kingdom remained split. Aethelbald maintained control of Wessex while his younger brother Aethelberht ruled Kent.
  • King Aethelbald married his father&rsquos widow, Judith. The marriage was highly controversial and drew criticism from Christian and Pagan countries alike. Judith provided a link to Charlemagne that proved to be too tempting for Aethelbald.
  • The marriage was annulled a year later.
  • In 860, Aethelbald died. His reign lasted from the time his father left for Rome to his death. The total time was 5 years.
  • Judith returned home after his death and was sent to live in a convent. She eventually eloped with the Count of Flanders.

King Aethelbald of Wessex 834 – 860

Born – c. 834
Died – 20th December 860
Father – King Aethelwulf (795 – 858)
Mother – Osburgh (810 – 855)
Spouse – Judith of France (843 – 870)
Children – No children
King of Wessex – 858 – 860
Predecessor – Aethelwulf – 839 – 858
Successor – Aethelbert – 860 – 865

Published Jan 29, 2018 @ 12:16 pm – Updated – Jul 4, 2020 @ 12:11 am

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018 – 2020). King Aethelbald of Wessex 834 – 860. Available: http://www.totallytimelines.com/king-aethelbald-of-wessex-834-860. Last accessed June 14th, 2021


Relationships

King Ecbert

Æthelwulf has a strained relationship with his father King Ecbert. In the episode Revenge, Æthelwulf stands up to his father for the first time when he directly states that the Great Heathen Army has come for them because of Ecbert’s actions. He also finally calls out his father on his treatment of him, pointing out that Ecbert has manipulated and humiliated him all his life, forced him to adopt the son his wife had during an affair, and outright asks if Ecbert even loves him. Ecbert is unable to say he loves him. Ecbert clearly views his son as unremarkable in every way, especially when compared with the other men around him such as Ragnar and Athelstan. It was clear to Ecbert that his son lacked the intellect, strategic planning, and cunning that he had in spades. If there is a choice to be made betweenÆthelwulf and literally anyone else, Ecbert will choose the person that is not Æthelwulf. This becomes especially notable because Æthelwulf is Ecbert’s only son. Æthelwulf clearly wants his father’s love and respect and feels that he has neither. It gets to the point where Ecbert begins using his approval to manipulate Æthelwulf. One of the most painful parts of their relationship is the fact that Ecbert fawns over Alfred and seemly expects Æthelwulf to accept the boy as his own, even in the face of Judith's lack of remorse for her affair.

Judith

Æthelwulf and his wife Judith have a complex and fraught relationship. Their marriage is an arranged one for political purposes. Although he appears to treat her kindly, if a bit awkwardly, as first, it is clear that Judith feels trapped and considered Æthelwulf to be something of a dullard. She becomes fascinated with Athelstan and has an affair with him that leads to an illegitimate child by him. Judith clearly lacks any feelings of remorse about her affair. Æthelwulf tries to violently repress his feelings of jealousy and rage through self-flagellation. He further tries to remain outwardly calm and upstanding in the face of his public humiliation. Judith and Æthelwulf's relationship continues to decay, and their public interactions become colder and more stilted. In private, Æthelwulf repeatedly loses control over his emotions and has vicious outbursts. She eventually tells him that they are married in name only. Judith allies herself with Ecbert and beings an affair with him, with Æthelwulf begins an affair with Kwenthrith. Upon the death of Ecbert, and towards the end of his life, Judith and Æthelwulf do seem to heal their relationship to the point where they are friendly with one another. Judith appears to express real grief at his death.


Aethelwulf of Wessex Timeline - History

Ethelread held a Witenagemot (Witan) at the palace of Woodstock.

The 'Great Army' arrive in East Anglia

A large number of Vikings landed in East Anglia and gathered horses and supplies from the surrounding areas in preparation for their assault on Northumbria. Their leaders were Ivar the Boneless, son of Ragnar Lodbrok, and possibly Anlaf (Olaf) Cuaran, the King of Dublin.

Northumbria is invaded by the Danes

The 'Great Army' moved north from their original landing site in East Anglia and into Northumbria where it split into two. One section took boats up the coast and sailed into the Humber while the other section went overland.

Danes are attacked and move south

Armies from Northumbria attacked the Danes at York but were defeated. The Danes moved south attacking Nottingham and taking the city. The king of Mercia asked Ethelred and Alfred for assistance and an army from Wessex went to help.

A peaceful settlement is reached

Ethelred and Alfred married Mercian noble women whilst assisting the King of Mercia with the Danes on his land. A peaceful settlement was reached with the Danes and a Danegeld was paid for them to leave.

Battle of Ashdown

Aethelred and Alfred defeated the Danes at Ashdown.

Alfred 'The Great' becomes king of Wessex

After fighting the Danes all winter Aethelred died. He was only in his twenties. He was buried at Wimborne and was succeeded by his younger brother Alfred 'the Great'. Aethelred had two sons but they were too young to rule. The younger son Aethelwold would later rebel against against Alfred's son Edward the Elder for the English throne.

3D Virtual Reconstructions

Transport yourself back up to a thousand years and explore historical buildings as they may have appeared in the past. Built using the popular game development tool Unity 3D, these reconstructions will run in the most of the popular web browsers on your desktop or laptop computer.

Uncover the lives of the hundreds of kings, queens, lords, ladies, barons, earls, archbishops and rebels who made the medieval people an exciting period of history to live through.


King Aethelwulf of Wessex 795 – 858

Born – c. 795
Died – 13th January 858
Father – Egbert of Wessex (770 – 839)
Mother – Redburga (possibly)
Spouse – Osburgh (810 – 855), Judith of France (843 – 870)
Children – by Osburgh – Aethelstan (d. 852), Aethelbald (834 – 860), Aethelbert (836 – 865), Aethelswith (838 – 888), Aethelred (840 – 871), Alfred (849 – 899)
King of Wessex – 839 – 858
Predecessor – Egbert – 802 – 839
Successor – Aethelbald – 858 – 860

Published Jan 26, 2018 @ 2:10 pm – Updated – Jul 4, 2020 @ 12:14 am

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018 – 2020). Aethelwulf of Wessex 795 – 858. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/aethelwulf-of-wessex-795-858. Last accessed June 16th, 2021


Contents

Æthelred's grandfather, Ecgberht, became king of Wessex in 802, and in the view of the historian Richard Abels it must have seemed very unlikely to contemporaries that he would establish a lasting dynasty. For two hundred years, three families had fought for the West Saxon throne, and no son had followed his father as king. No ancestor of Ecgberht had been a king of Wessex since Ceawlin in the late sixth century, but he was believed to be a paternal descendant of Cerdic, the founder of the West Saxon dynasty. [b] This made Ecgberht an ætheling – a prince eligible for the throne. But after Ecgberht's reign, descent from Cerdic was no longer sufficient to make a man an ætheling. When Ecgberht died in 839 he was succeeded by his son Æthelwulf all subsequent West Saxon kings were Ecgberht's descendants, and were also sons of kings. [4]

At the beginning of the ninth century, England was almost wholly under the control of the Anglo-Saxons. The Midland kingdom of Mercia dominated southern England, but its supremacy came to an end in 825 when it was decisively defeated by Ecgberht at the Battle of Ellendun. [5] The two kingdoms became allies, which was important in the resistance to Viking attacks. [6] In 853, King Burgred of Mercia requested West Saxon help to suppress a Welsh rebellion, and Æthelwulf led a West Saxon contingent in a successful joint campaign. In the same year Burgred married Æthelwulf's daughter, Æthelswith. [7]

In 825, Ecgberht sent Æthelwulf to invade the Mercian sub-kingdom of Kent, and its sub-king, Baldred, was driven out shortly afterwards. By 830, Essex, Surrey and Sussex had also submitted to Ecgberht, and he had appointed Æthelwulf to rule the south-eastern territories as King of Kent. [8] The Vikings ravaged the Isle of Sheppey in 835, and the following year they defeated Ecgberht at Carhampton in Somerset, [9] but in 838 he was victorious over an alliance of Cornishmen and Vikings at the Battle of Hingston Down, reducing Cornwall to the status of a client kingdom. [10] When Æthelwulf succeeded, he appointed his eldest son Æthelstan (who died in the early 850s) as sub-king of Kent. [11] Ecgberht and Æthelwulf may not have intended a permanent union between Wessex and Kent as they both appointed sons as sub-kings and charters in Wessex were attested (witnessed) by West Saxon magnates, while Kentish charters were witnessed by the Kentish elite both kings kept overall control and the sub-kings were not allowed to issue their own coinage. [12]

Viking raids increased in the early 840s on both sides of the English Channel, and in 843 Æthelwulf was defeated at Carhampton. [11] In 850 Æthelstan defeated a Danish fleet off Sandwich in the first recorded naval battle in English history. [13] In 851 Æthelwulf and his second son Æthelbald defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Aclea and, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, "there made the greatest slaughter of a heathen raiding-army that we have heard tell of up to this present day, and there took the victory". [14] Æthelwulf died in 858 and was succeeded by his oldest surviving son, Æthelbald, as king of Wessex and by his next oldest son, Æthelberht, as king of Kent. Æthelbald only survived his father by two years and Æthelberht then for the first time united Wessex and Kent into a single kingdom. [15]

Æthelred was the fourth of five sons of King Æthelwulf. His mother, Osburh, was of West Saxon royal descent. According to the historian Sean Miller, Æthelred was probably a year or so older than his younger brother, the future Alfred the Great, who was born 848–9, [16] but Richard Abels says that Æthelred was around eight years old in 853, which would mean he was born about 845. [17] Manuscript A of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which was written in the 890s, states that in 853 Alfred was sent by his father to Rome and was consecrated by the Pope as king. Historians do not believe that he was consecrated king at this young age and the real nature of the ceremony is explained in an extract from a letter of Pope Leo IV to Æthelwulf, which records that he decorated Alfred "as a spiritual son, with the dignity of the belt and the vestments of the consulate, as is customary with Roman consuls". The contemporary Liber Vitae (confraternity book) of San Salvatore, Brescia, records the names of both Æthelred and Alfred, indicating that both brothers went to Rome. It is likely that Æthelred was also decorated by the pope, but the ceremony was later regarded as foreshadowing Alfred's greatness and neither the chronicler nor the eleventh-century extractor from the Pope's letters were interested in recording the presence of his lesser known elder brother. [18]

Æthelred first witnessed his father's charters as filius regis (king's son) in 854, and he witnessed with this title until he succeeded to the throne in 865. He may have acted as an underking before his accession, as in 862 and 863 he issued his own charters as King of the West Saxons. This must have been as deputy or in the absence of his elder brother, King Æthelberht, 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. [19] [c]

Civilian rule Edit

Æthelred succeeded to the throne on Æthelberht's death in 865, and he married Wulfthryth at an unknown date. West Saxon kings' wives had a low status in the ninth century and very little is known about them. They were not usually given the title of regina (queen), an omission which Alfred the Great justified on the ground of the misconduct of a queen at the beginning of the ninth century. The name of Æthelred's wife is only known because she was recorded as a witness to one charter, S 340 of 868, where she is shown as Wulfthryth regina, suggesting that she had a higher status than other kings' wives. The only other ninth century king's wife known to have been given the title was Æthelwulf's second wife, Judith of Flanders, a great-granddaughter of Charlemagne. Wulfthryth and Æthelred had two known sons, Æthelhelm and Æthelwold. [24] [d] She may have been Mercian [27] or a daughter of Wulfhere, Ealdorman of Wiltshire, who forfeited his lands after being charged with deserting King Alfred for the Danes in about 878, perhaps because he attempted to secure Viking support for his elder grandson Æthelhelm's claim to the throne against Alfred. [28]

Alfred records in the preamble to his will that Æthelwulf had left property jointly to three of his sons, Æthelbald, Æthelred and Alfred, with the proviso that the brother who lived longest would succeed to all of it. When Æthelbald died in 860, Æthelred and Alfred, who were still young, agreed to entrust their share to the new king, Æthelberht, on a promise that he would return it to them intact. When Æthelred succeeded to the throne, Alfred asked him at a meeting of the witan (assembly of leading men) to give him his share of the property. However, Æthelred said that he had attempted many times to divide it but had found it too difficult, and he would instead leave the whole to Alfred on his death. Some historians see the bequest as including the whole of Æthelwulf's bookland, his personal property which he could leave in his will (as opposed to the folkland which passed according to customary law and property earmarked for the support of the crown) it is further argued that it was considered desirable that the bookland would be kept by the king, so Æthelwulf's provision implies that the throne would pass to each brother in turn. [29] However, other historians assert that the bequest had nothing to do with the kingship, [11] and Alfred Smyth argues that the bequest was provision for Æthelwulf's young sons when they reached adulthood, with Æthelbald as trustee and residuary beneficiary if they died young. [30] When Alfred succeeded, the supporters of Æthelred's infant sons complained that Alfred should have shared the property with them, and Alfred had his father's will read to a meeting of the witan to prove his right to keep the whole of the property. [31] Alfred rarely witnessed Æthelred's charters, and this together with the argument over their father's will suggests that they may not have been on good terms. The historian Pauline Stafford suggests that Æthelred may have chosen to highlight his wife's status as queen in a charter in order to assert his own sons' claims to the succession. [32]

In 868, Æthelred issued a charter which was attested by a Mercian ætheling and himself attested a charter issued by his sister, Æthelswith, as queen of Mercia. [33] Æthelred used several different titles in his charters. He is called by his father's usual title, Rex Occidentalium Saxonum (King of the West Saxons) in the charter of Ealhswith which he witnessed, and in five of his own. He is "King of the West Saxons and the Men of Kent" in two, and "King" and "King of the Saxons" in one each. [23] [e] The West Saxon charters of Æthelred and his elder brothers followed a uniform style, suggesting that they were produced by a single agency which operated over a number of years. [35] [f]

The Viking invasions Edit

The character of Viking attacks on England decisively changed in the year that Æthelred succeeded to the throne. Previously the country had suffered from sporadic raids, but now it faced invasion aiming at conquest and settlement. A large force of Vikings, called by contemporaries the Great Heathen Army, arrived in East Anglia. King Edmund purchased peace by paying tribute and the Vikings stayed a year building up their strength. They then marched on York and conquered Northumbria, installing a puppet king. In late 867 they took Nottingham in Mercia and spent the winter there. Æthelred's brother-in-law, King Burgred, appealed to him for help. Æthelred and Alfred led a large West Saxon army to Nottingham and besieged the Vikings, but they refused to leave the safety of the town's defences. The combined Mercian and West Saxon armies were unable to breach the earth ramparts and ditch, and eventually Burgred bought them off. The Vikings then went back to York. [37] [g]

In 869 the Vikings returned to East Anglia and conquered the kingdom, killing King Edmund. In December 870 they launched an attempt to conquer Wessex led by Kings Bagsecg and Halfdan. They occupied Reading on around 28 December. The town is between the Thames and Kennet rivers, and they set about building a ditch and rampart on the southern side between the two rivers. Three days after their arrival they sent out a large foraging party, which was defeated by an army of local levies under the command of Æthelwulf, Ealdorman of Berkshire, at the Battle of Englefield. After another four days, on about 4 January 871, Æthelred and Alfred brought up the main West Saxon army and joined Æthelwulf's forces for an attack on the Danes in the Battle of Reading. The West Saxons fought their way to the town, slaughtering all the Danes they found outside, but when they reached the town gate the Vikings burst out and defeated the West Saxons with a successful counter-attack. Among the dead was Æthelwulf, whose body was secretly carried off to be buried in his native Derby. [39] According to the twelfth-century chronicler Gaimar, Æthelred and Alfred only escaped due to their better knowledge of the local terrain, which allowed them to lose their pursuers by fording the River Loddon at Twyford and going on to Whistley Green, which is around 6 miles (9.7 kilometres) east of Reading. [40]

Four days later, on about 8 January, the armies met again in the Battle of Ashdown. The location of the battle is unknown, but may be Kingstanding Hill, 13 miles (21 kilometres) north-west of Reading. According to Asser's account, the Vikings arrived first at the battle ground and deployed along the top of the ridge, giving them the advantage. They divided their forces into two contingents, one under their two kings and the other under their earls. When the West Saxons saw this, they decided to copy the formation, with Æthelred facing the kings and Alfred the earls. The king then retired to his tent to hear Mass, while Alfred led his forces to the battlefield. Both sides formed their forces into shield walls. Æthelred would not cut short his devotions [h] and Alfred risked being outflanked and overwhelmed by the whole Danish army. He decided to attack and led his men in a charge. Battle then raged around a small thorn tree and finally the West Saxons were victorious. Although Asser emphasises Alfred's role in the victory and implies that Æthelred was dilatory, in the view of the military historian John Peddie, Æthelred was militarily correct to delay joining the battle until the situation was in his favour. The Vikings suffered heavy losses, including King Bagsecg and five earls, Sidroc the Old, Sidroc the Younger, Osbern, Fræna and Harold. The West Saxons followed the Viking flight until nightfall, cutting them down. [42] The historian Barbara Yorke, who sees Asser's biography as intended to portray Alfred as an ideal king, comments that "Asser is particularly careful to give much credit to Alfred". [43]

However, the victory was short-lived. Two weeks later, Æthelred and Alfred were defeated at the royal estate of Basing in the Battle of Basing. There was then a lull of two months until the West Saxons and the Vikings met at an unknown location called Meretun. In the battle on 22 March the Vikings again divided into two divisions and the West Saxons had the advantage for much of the day, putting both divisions to flight, but the Vikings regrouped and finally held control of the battlefield. The West Saxons lost many important men, including Heahmund, the Bishop of Sherborne. [44] [i]


Aethelwulf of Wessex Timeline - History

Ethelread held a Witenagemot (Witan) at the palace of Woodstock.

The 'Great Army' arrive in East Anglia

A large number of Vikings landed in East Anglia and gathered horses and supplies from the surrounding areas in preparation for their assault on Northumbria. Their leaders were Ivar the Boneless, son of Ragnar Lodbrok, and possibly Anlaf (Olaf) Cuaran, the King of Dublin.

Northumbria is invaded by the Danes

The 'Great Army' moved north from their original landing site in East Anglia and into Northumbria where it split into two. One section took boats up the coast and sailed into the Humber while the other section went overland.

Danes are attacked and move south

Armies from Northumbria attacked the Danes at York but were defeated. The Danes moved south attacking Nottingham and taking the city. The king of Mercia asked Ethelred and Alfred for assistance and an army from Wessex went to help.

A peaceful settlement is reached

Ethelred and Alfred married Mercian noble women whilst assisting the King of Mercia with the Danes on his land. A peaceful settlement was reached with the Danes and a Danegeld was paid for them to leave.

Battle of Ashdown

Aethelred and Alfred defeated the Danes at Ashdown.

Alfred 'The Great' becomes king of Wessex

After fighting the Danes all winter Aethelred died. He was only in his twenties. He was buried at Wimborne and was succeeded by his younger brother Alfred 'the Great'. Aethelred had two sons but they were too young to rule. The younger son Aethelwold would later rebel against against Alfred's son Edward the Elder for the English throne.

3D Virtual Reconstructions

Transport yourself back up to a thousand years and explore historical buildings as they may have appeared in the past. Built using the popular game development tool Unity 3D, these reconstructions will run in the most of the popular web browsers on your desktop or laptop computer.

Uncover the lives of the hundreds of kings, queens, lords, ladies, barons, earls, archbishops and rebels who made the medieval people an exciting period of history to live through.


Anglo-Saxon England

In the fifth century C.E., people from tribes called Angles, Saxons, and Jutes left their homelands in northern Europe to look for a new home. They knew that the Romans had recently left the green land of Britain unguarded, so they sailed across the channel in small wooden boats. This warlike dragon figurehead is from a ship of that time.

The Britons did not give in without a fight, but after many years the invaders managed to overcome them, driving them to the west of the country. The Anglo-Saxons were to rule for over 500 years.

Some objects were left behind by the Anglo-Saxons which have given us clues about how they lived. The British Museum is home to the largest and finest Anglo-Saxon collection in the world.

Left: Æthelwulf Ring, c. 828-58 C.E., niello, gold, 2.8 cm diameter, and right: Æthelswith Ring, c. 853-74 C.E., niello, gold, 2.6 cm in diameter, both England © Trustees of the British Museum

Map of Anglo-Saxon England

Anglo-Saxon England was divided into the five main kingdoms of Wessex, East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria and Kent, each with its own king. Kings often died early and violent deaths. As well as fighting against each other for power, they had to keep their own nobles happy, or they might rise up against them. One way that they did this was to give them expensive presents.

The ring on the left was perhaps given to a noble by King Æthelwulf of Wessex. The other ring has AD on it which stands for “Agnus Dei” meaning “Lamb of God” in Latin. On the back the name Æthelswith has been cut. She was Æthelwulf’s daughter and the ring might have been a gift she gave to show her favour.


Strategy

You start here in the region of Southwest England . Your goal is to unify all of petty Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in Britain. You border Mercia to the north. Dumnonia to the west. Essex to the northeast. Kent to the southeast. Their neighbors are usually weak. This will your first conquest to unite the petty Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in Britain. First. take out Dumnonia . Which they are weak. But they have a province here in Armorica. After you take annex the Dumnonian province in Britain. It's time to take out the petty Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. your first priority is to take Kent . Which is one province minor. And then annex Essex . Which is two province minor. and take out East Anglia . With the south Britain is now under your control. Your main enemy will be Mercia . Who is controlling almost of central England . You must have a larger army than your rivals. Once you have defeated Mercia in the current wars. You may want to take everything that you wanted. But you will get large amounts of Aggressive Expansion if you take everything from Mercia . But you will need Oxfordshire to form England if you can.


Watch the video: Before There Was An England: The History of Wessex in the 9th Century