|Queen consort of England|
|Tenure||964/965 – 8 July 975|
|Coronation||11 May 973|
|Died||17 November 1000 or 1001|
|Spouse|| Æthelwald, Ealdorman of East Anglia |
Edgar, King of England
Edmund of England
Æthelred, King of England
|Father||Ordgar, Ealdorman of Devon|
Ælfthryth (c. 945 – 1000 or 1001, also Alfrida, Elfrida or Elfthryth) was an English queen, the second or third wife of King Edgar of England. Ælfthryth was the first king's wife known to have been crowned and anointed as Queen of the Kingdom of England. Mother of King Æthelred the Unready, she was a powerful political figure. She was possibly linked to the murder of her stepson King Edward the Martyr and appeared as a stereotypical bad queen and evil stepmother in many medieval histories.
Ælfthryth was the daughter of Ealdorman Ordgar. Her mother was a member of the royal family of Wessex. The family's power lay in the west of Wessex. Ordgar was buried in Exeter and his son Ordwulf founded, or refounded, Tavistock Abbey.
Ælfthryth was first married to Æthelwald, son of Æthelstan Half-King as recorded by Byrhtferth of Ramsey in his Life of Saint Oswald of Worcester.Later accounts, such as that preserved by William of Malmesbury, add vivid detail of unknown reliability.
According to William, the beauty of Ordgar's daughter Ælfthryth was reported to King Edgar. Edgar, looking for a Queen, sent Æthewald to see Ælfthryth, ordering him "to offer her marriage [to Edgar] if her beauty were really equal to report." When she turned out to be just as beautiful as was said, Æthelwald married her himself and reported back to Edgar that she was quite unsuitable. Edgar was eventually told of this, and decided to repay Æthelwald's betrayal in like manner. He said that he would visit the poor woman, which alarmed Æthelwald. He asked Ælfthryth to make herself as unattractive as possible for the king's visit, but she did the opposite. Edgar, quite besotted with her, killed Æthelwald during a hunt.
The historical record does not record the year of Æthelwald's death, let alone its manner. No children of Æthelwald and Ælfthryth are known.
Edgar had two children before he married Ælfthryth, both of uncertain legitimacy. Edward was probably the son of Æthelflæd, and Eadgifu, later known as Saint Edith of Wilton, was the daughter of Wulfthryth.Sound political reasons encouraged the match between Edgar, whose power base was centred in Mercia, and Ælfthryth, whose family were powerful in Wessex. In addition to this, and her link with the family of Æthelstan Half-King, Ælfthryth also appears to have been connected to the family of Ælfhere, Ealdorman of Mercia.
Edgar married Ælfthryth in either 964 or 965. In 966 Ælfthryth gave birth to a son who was named Edmund. In King Edgar's charter (S 745) regranting privileges to New Minster, Winchester that same year, the infant Edmund is called "clito legitimus" (legitimate ætheling), and appears before Edward in the list of witnesses. Edmund died young, circa 970, but in 968 Ælfthryth had given birth to a second son who was called Æthelred.
King Edgar organised a second coronation on 11 May 973 at Bath, perhaps to bolster his claim to be ruler of all of Britain. Here Ælfthryth was also crowned and anointed, granting her a status higher than any recent queen.The only model of a queen's coronation was that of Judith of Flanders, but this had taken place outside England. In the new rite, the emphasis lay on her role as protector of religion and the nunneries in the realm. She took a close interest in the well-being of several abbeys, and as overseer of Barking Abbey she deposed and later reinstated the abbess.
Ælfthryth played a large role as forespeca, or advocate, in at least seven legal cases. As such, she formed a key part of the Anglo-Saxon legal system as a mediator between the individual and the crown, which was increasingly viewing its role in the courts as a symbol of its authority as protector of its subjects. Ælfthryth's actions as forespeca were largely for the benefit of female litigants, and her role as a mediator shows the possibilities for women to have legal and political power in late Anglo-Saxon England.
Edgar died in 975 leaving two young sons, Edward and Æthelred. Edward was almost an adult, and his successful claim for the throne was supported by many key figures including Archbishops Dunstan and Oswald and the brother of Ælfthryth's first husband, Æthelwine, Ealdorman of East Anglia. Supporting the unsuccessful claim of Æthelred were his mother, the Queen dowager, Bishop Æthelwold of Winchester, and Ælfhere, Ealdorman of Mercia.
On 18 March 978, while visiting Ælfthryth at Corfe Castle, King Edward was killed by servants of the Queen, leaving the way clear for Æthelred to be installed as king. Edward was soon considered a martyr, and later medieval accounts blamed Ælfthryth for his murder. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , King Edward was murdered at Corfe Castle in 978. As the king developed into a cult figure, a body of literature grew up around his murder, at first implying and then accusing his step-mother, Queen Aelfthryth, of being responsible. The 12th century monastic chronicle the Liber Eliensis went so far as to accuse her of being a witch, claiming that she had murdered not only the king, but also Abbot Brihtnoth of Ely.
Due to Æthelred's youth, Ælfthryth served as regent for her son until his coming of age in 984. By then her earlier allies Æthelwold and Ælfhere had died, and Æthelred rebelled against his old advisers, preferring a group of younger nobility. She disappears from the list of charter witnesses from around 983 to 993, when she reappears in a lower position. She remained an important figure, being responsible for the care of Æthelred's children by his first wife, Ælfgifu. Æthelred's eldest son, Æthelstan Ætheling, prayed for the soul of the grandmother "who brought me up" in his will in 1014.
Although her reputation was damaged by the murder of her stepson, Ælfthryth was a religious woman, taking an especial interest in monastic reform when Queen. In about 986 she founded Wherwell Abbey in Hampshire as a Benedictine nunnery, and late in life she retired there.Antonia Gransden comments: "In their patronage of the monks both Cnut and Edward the Confessor were supported by their queens, Emma and Edith, who were worthy successors of Edgar's queen, Ælfthryth, as patronesses of the religious." She died at Wherwell on 17 November 999, 1000 or 1001.
Æthelred II, known as the Unready, was King of the English from 978 to 1013 and again from 1014 until his death. His epithet does not derive from the modern word "unready", but rather from the Old English unræd meaning "poorly advised"; it is a pun on his name, which means "well advised".
Edward the Martyr was King of England from 975 until he was murdered in 978. Edward was the eldest son of King Edgar the Peaceful but was not his father's acknowledged heir. On Edgar's death, the leadership of England was contested, with some supporting Edward's claim to be king and others supporting his younger half-brother Æthelred the Unready, recognized as a legitimate son of Edgar. Edward was chosen as king and was crowned by his main clerical supporters, the archbishops Dunstan of Canterbury and Oswald of York.
Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians ruled Mercia in the English Midlands from 911 until her death. She was the eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and his wife Ealhswith.
Edgar, known as the Peaceful or the Peaceable, was King of England from 959 until his death. He was the younger son of Edmund I and Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury, and came to the throne as a teenager, following the death of his older brother Eadwig. As king, Edgar further consolidated the political unity achieved by his predecessors, with his reign being noted for its relative stability. His most trusted advisor was Dunstan, whom he recalled from exile and made Archbishop of Canterbury. The pinnacle of Edgar's reign was his coronation at Bath in 973, which was organised by Dunstan and forms the basis for the current coronation ceremony. After his death he was succeeded by his son Edward, although the succession was disputed.
Æthelstan or Athelstan was King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 and King of the English from 927 to 939 when he died. He was the son of King Edward the Elder and his first wife, Ecgwynn. Modern historians regard him as the first King of England and one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon kings. He never married and had no children. He was succeeded by his half-brother, Edmund.
Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians became ruler of English Mercia shortly after the death of its last king, Ceolwulf II in 879. His rule was confined to the western half, as eastern Mercia was then part of the Viking-ruled Danelaw. Æthelred's ancestry is unknown. He was probably the leader of an unsuccessful Mercian invasion of Wales in 881, and soon afterwards he acknowledged the lordship of King Alfred the Great of Wessex. The alliance was cemented by the marriage of Æthelred to Alfred's daughter Æthelflæd.
Ælfwynn was the ruler of Mercia for a few months in 918, following her mother's death on 12 June 918. She was the daughter of Æthelred, ruler of English Mercia, and Æthelflæd. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that she was "deprived of all control in Mercia, and was led into Wessex three weeks before Christmas". Her accession was the only example of rule passing from one woman to another in the early medieval period in the British Isles.
Ælfgifu was the consort of King Eadwig of England for a brief period of time until 957 or 958. What little is known of her comes primarily by way of Anglo-Saxon charters, possibly including a will, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and hostile anecdotes in works of hagiography. Her union with the king, annulled within a few years of Eadwig's reign, seems to have been a target for factional rivalries which surrounded the throne in the late 950s. By c. 1000, when the careers of the Benedictine reformers Dunstan and Oswald became the subject of hagiography, its memory had suffered heavy degradation. In the mid-960s, however, she appears to have become a well-to-do landowner on good terms with King Edgar and, through her will, a generous benefactress of ecclesiastical houses associated with the royal family, notably the Old Minster and New Minster at Winchester.
Ælfric Cild was a wealthy Anglo-Saxon nobleman from the east Midlands, ealdorman of Mercia between 983 and 985, and possibly brother-in-law to his predecessor Ælfhere. He was also associated with the monastic reformer Æthelwold, bishop of Winchester, he is also notable for being involved in a number of land transactions for the refounding and endowment of Peterborough Abbey, as well as with Thorney Abbey during the 970s and early 980s.
Æthelstan Half-King was an important and influential Ealdorman of East Anglia who interacted with five kings of England, including his adopted son Edgar the Peaceful. Many of Æthelstan's close relatives were also involved in important affairs, but soon after the death of king Eadred in 955, he left his position and became a monk at Glastonbury Abbey.
Edward the Elder was King of the Anglo-Saxons from 899 until his death. He was the elder son of Alfred the Great and his wife Ealhswith. When Edward succeeded to the throne, he had to defeat a challenge from his cousin Æthelwold, who had a strong claim to the throne as the son of Alfred's elder brother and predecessor, Æthelred.
Ealdgyth, modern English Edith may have been the name of the wife of Sigeferth son of Earngrim, thegn of the Seven Burghs, and later of King Edmund Ironside. She was probably the mother of Edmund's sons Edward the Exile and Edmund Ætheling.
Ælfhere was ealdorman of Mercia. His family, along with those of Æthelstan Half-King and Æthelstan Rota, rose to greatness in the middle third of the 10th century. In the reign of Edward the Martyr, Ælfhere was a leader of the anti-monastic reaction and an ally of Edward's stepmother Queen Dowager Ælfthryth. After the killing of Edward by Ælfthryth's servants in 978, Ælfhere supported the new king, Ælfthryth's son Æthelred the Unready, and was the leading nobleman in the Kingdom of England until his death in 983.
Æthelwine was ealdorman of East Anglia and one of the leading noblemen in the kingdom of England in the later 10th century. As with his kinsmen, the principal source for his life is Byrhtferth's life of Oswald of Worcester. Æthelwine founded Ramsey Abbey in 969, and Byrhtferth and Ramsey Abbey remembered him as Dei amicus, but the monks of nearby Ely saw him as an enemy who had seized their lands.
Æthelwald was ealdorman of East Anglia. He is mentioned in Byrhtferth's life of Oswald of Worcester along with other members of his family.
Events from the 10th century in the Kingdom of England.
Ælfflæd was the second wife of the English king Edward the Elder.
Ælfgifu of York was the first wife of Æthelred the Unready, by whom she bore many offspring, including Edmund Ironside. It is most probable that she was a daughter of Thored, Earl of southern Northumbria.
Ordgar was Ealdorman of Devon in England. He was a great West Country landowner and apparently a close advisor of his son-in-law Edgar the Peaceful, king of England. His daughter Ælfthryth was King Edgar's third wife and was mother of King Æthelred the Unready (c.968-1016). Ordgar was created an Ealdorman by King Edgar in 964. He founded Tavistock Abbey in 961.
Dead Man's Plack is a Grade-II listed 19th-century monument to Æthelwald, Ealdorman of East Anglia, who, according to legend, was killed in 963 near the site where it stands by his rival in love, King Edgar I. The name is more probably derived from a corruption of "Dudman's Platt", from Dudman — who is recorded as a resident in 1735 — and platt, meaning a plot of land. The monument was erected in 1825 at Harewood Forest, between the villages of Picket Twenty and Longparish, Hampshire, by Lt. Col. William Iremonger.
Ælfgifu, wife of Eadwig
| Queen Consort of England |
Ælfgifu of York