Ælfweard of Wessex

Last updated
Ælfweard
King of Wessex (perhaps)
Reign17 July 924 – 2 August 924 (perhaps)
Predecessor Edward the Elder
Successor Æthelstan
Bornc. 902
Wessex, England
Died2 August 924 (aged 2122)
Oxford, England
Burial
House Wessex
Father Edward, King of Wessex
Mother Ælfflæd
Religion Roman Catholic

Ælfweard ( /ˈælfwɔːrd/ ; c. 902 – 2 August 924) was the second son of Edward the Elder, the eldest born to his second wife Ælfflæd.

Son male offspring; a boy or man in relation to his parents

A son is a male offspring; a boy or man in relation to his parents. The female counterpart is a daughter.

Edward the Elder English king, son of Alfred the Great

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.

Contents

Kingship and death

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle simply states that Ælfweard died soon after his father's death on 17 July 924 and that they were buried together at Winchester. Manuscript D of the Chronicle specifies that he outlived his father by only 16 days. No reign is explicitly attributed to him here. However, a list of West-Saxon kings in the 12th-century Textus Roffensis [1] mentions him as his father's successor, with a reign of four weeks. [2] He is also described as king in the New Minster Liber Vitae , [3] [4] an 11th-century source based in part on earlier material. On the other hand, William of Malmesbury, relying on a poem, related that Edward's eldest son (by his first wife Ecgwynn), Æthelstan, succeeded directly under the terms of King Alfred's will (since lost). [5] The poem had once been considered a near-contemporary authority, but Michael Lapidge has shown this to be based on a misunderstanding of William's reference to "a certain obviously ancient book". [6]

<i>Anglo-Saxon Chronicle</i> Set of related medieval English chronicles

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple copies were made of that one original and then distributed to monasteries across England, where they were independently updated. In one case, the Chronicle was still being actively updated in 1154.

<i>Textus Roffensis</i> medieval manuscript

The Textus Roffensis, fully entitled the Textus de Ecclesia Roffensi per Ernulphum episcopum and sometimes also known as the Annals of Rochester, is a mediaeval manuscript that consists of two separate works written between 1122 and 1124. It is catalogued as "Rochester Cathedral Library, MS A.3.5" and is currently on display in a new exhibition at Rochester Cathedral, Rochester, Kent. It is thought that the main text of both manuscripts was written by a single scribe, although the English glosses to the two Latin entries were made by a second hand. The annotations might indicate that the manuscript was consulted in some post-Conquest trials. However, the glosses are very sparse and just clarify a few uncertain terms. For example, the entry on f. 67r merely explains that the triplex iudiciu(m) is called in English, ofraceth ordel.

William of Malmesbury was the foremost English historian of the 12th century. He has been ranked among the most talented English historians since Bede. Modern historian C. Warren Hollister described him as "a gifted historical scholar and an omnivorous reader, impressively well versed in the literature of classical, patristic and earlier medieval times as well as in the writings of his own contemporaries. Indeed William may well have been the most learned man in twelfth-century Western Europe."

This conflicting documentation has led to alternative interpretations, some modern historians concluding that he had succeeded his father in preference to his older half-brother Æthelstan, while others maintain that Æthelstan was the only heir to his father. [5] Alternatively, a divided rule has been suggested, since the so-called Mercian register of the Chronicle reports that Æthelstan became king of the Mercians, and William of Malmesbury, though denying a reign for Ælfweard, reports that Æthelstan was educated at the Mercian court of his aunt Æthelflæd. [2] [5] [7] In the view of Simon Keynes, Ælfweard was recognised as king in Wessex and Æthelstan in Mercia, and although it is possible that Edward intended a division of the kingdom after his death, it is more likely that the leaders of Wessex chose Ælfweard and Mercia set up Æthelstan in opposition. [8]

Æthelflæd 9th and 10th-century ruler of Mercia in England

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. Æthelflæd was born around 870 at the height of the Viking invasions of England. By 878, most of England was under Danish Viking rule – East Anglia and Northumbria having been conquered, and Mercia partitioned between the English and the Vikings – but in that year Alfred won a crucial victory at the Battle of Edington. Soon afterwards the English-controlled western half of Mercia came under the rule of Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians, who accepted Alfred's overlordship. Alfred adopted the title King of the English, claiming to rule all English people not living in areas under Viking control. In the mid-880s, Alfred sealed the strategic alliance between the surviving English kingdoms by marrying Æthelflæd to Æthelred.

Simon Douglas Keynes, is the current Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of Trinity College.

Ælfweard died only 16 days after his father, on 2 August 924 at Oxford, and was buried at the New Minster, Winchester. Æthelstan still had difficulty in securing acceptance in Wessex, and he was not crowned King of the Anglo-Saxons until 4 September 925. [8] [9]

Oxford City and non-metropolitan district in England

Oxford is a university city in south central England and the county town of Oxfordshire. With a population of approximately 155,000, it is the 52nd largest city in the United Kingdom, with one of the fastest growing populations in the UK, and it remains the most ethnically diverse area in Oxfordshire county. The city is 51 miles (82 km) from London, 61 miles (98 km) from Bristol, 59 miles (95 km) from Southampton, 57 miles (92 km) from Birmingham and 24 miles (39 km) from Reading.

New Minster, Winchester

The New Minster in Winchester was a royal Benedictine abbey founded in 901 in Winchester in the English county of Hampshire.

See also

Notes

  1. (Rochester, Cathedral Library, MS A.3.5, fols. 7v-8r).
  2. 1 2 Yorke, Bishop Æthelwold. p. 71.
  3. f. 9v, cited by Yorke.
  4. "Ælfweard 4". Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England .
  5. 1 2 3 Williams, "Some Notes", pp. 149–50.
  6. Lapidge, "Some Latin poems as evidence for the reign of Athelstan." 50-1.
  7. Walker, Mercia and the Making of England. p. 127.
  8. 1 2 Keynes, 'Rulers of the English', p. 514
  9. Foot, Æthelstan, p. 17

Related Research Articles

Kingdom of Essex former kingdom on the island of Britain (527 CE - 825 CE)

The kingdom of the East Saxons, today referred to as the Kingdom of Essex, was one of the seven traditional kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was founded in the 6th century and covered the territory later occupied by the counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Kent. Kings of Essex were frequently subservient to foreign overlords. The last king of Essex was Sigered and in 825, he ceded the kingdom to Ecgberht, King of Wessex.

Offa of Mercia 8th-century Anglo-Saxon King of Mercia

Offa was King of Mercia, a kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England, from 757 until his death in July 796. The son of Thingfrith and a descendant of Eowa, Offa came to the throne after a period of civil war following the assassination of Æthelbald. Offa defeated the other claimant, Beornred. In the early years of Offa's reign, it is likely that he consolidated his control of Midland peoples such as the Hwicce and the Magonsæte. Taking advantage of instability in the kingdom of Kent to establish himself as overlord, Offa also controlled Sussex by 771, though his authority did not remain unchallenged in either territory. In the 780s he extended Mercian Supremacy over most of southern England, allying with Beorhtric of Wessex, who married Offa's daughter Eadburh, and regained complete control of the southeast. He also became the overlord of East Anglia and had King Æthelberht II of East Anglia beheaded in 794, perhaps for rebelling against him.

Æthelred I, King of Wessex King of Wessex

Æthelred I was King of Wessex from 865 to 871. He was the fourth son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex. He succeeded his brother, Æthelberht (Ethelbert), as King of Wessex and Kent in 865.

Æthelstan King of the Anglo-Saxons, King of the English

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.

Coenwulf of Mercia 8th- and 9th-century King of Mercia

Coenwulf was the King of Mercia from December 796 until his death in 821. He was a descendant of a sibling of King Penda, who had ruled Mercia in the middle of the 7th century. He succeeded Ecgfrith, the son of Offa; Ecgfrith only reigned for five months, and Coenwulf ascended the throne in the same year that Offa died. In the early years of Coenwulf's reign he had to deal with a revolt in Kent, which had been under Offa's control. Eadberht Præn returned from exile in Francia to claim the Kentish throne, and Coenwulf was forced to wait for papal support before he could intervene. When Pope Leo III agreed to anathematise Eadberht, Coenwulf invaded and retook the kingdom; Eadberht was taken prisoner, was blinded, and had his hands cut off. Coenwulf also appears to have lost control of the kingdom of East Anglia during the early part of his reign, as an independent coinage appears under King Eadwald. Coenwulf's coinage reappears in 805, indicating that the kingdom was again under Mercian control. Several campaigns of Coenwulf's against the Welsh are recorded, but only one conflict with Northumbria, in 801, though it is likely that Coenwulf continued to support the opponents of the Northumbrian king Eardwulf.

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.

Ealhswith Anglo Saxon royal consort

Ealhswith or Ealswitha was the wife of King Alfred the Great. Her father was a Mercian nobleman, Æthelred Mucel, Ealdorman of the Gaini, which is thought to be an old Mercian tribal group. Her mother was Eadburh, a member of the Mercian royal family, and according to the historian Cyril Hart she was a descendant of King Coenwulf of Mercia. She is commemorated as a saint in the Christian East and the West on 20 July.

Æthelwold ætheling monarch

Æthelwold or Æthelwald was the younger of two known sons of Æthelred I, King of Wessex from 865 to 871. Æthelwold and his brother Æthelhelm were still infants when their father the king died while fighting a Danish Viking invasion. The throne passed to the king's younger brother Alfred the Great, who carried on the war against the Vikings and won a crucial victory at the Battle of Edington in 878.

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.

Æthelstan, the eldest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex, was the King of Kent from 839 under the authority of his father. The late D, E and F versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describe Æthelstan as Æthelwulf's brother, but the A, B and C versions, and Æthelweard's Chronicon, state that he was Æthelwulf's son. Some historians have argued that it is more probable that he was a brother, including Eric John in 1966 and Ann Williams in 1978. However, in 1991 Ann Williams described him as Æthelwulf's son, and this is now generally accepted by historians, including Frank Stenton, Barbara Yorke, and D. P. Kirby.

Old Minster, Winchester

The Old Minster was the Anglo-Saxon cathedral for the diocese of Wessex and then Winchester from 660 to 1093. It stood on a site immediately north of and partially beneath its successor, Winchester Cathedral.

Æthelwold, also known as Æthelwald or Æþelwald, was a 7th-century king of East Anglia, the long-lived Anglo-Saxon kingdom which today includes the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. He was a member of the Wuffingas dynasty, which ruled East Anglia from their regio at Rendlesham. The two Anglo-Saxon cemeteries at Sutton Hoo, the monastery at Iken, the East Anglian see at Dommoc and the emerging port of Ipswich were all in the vicinity of Rendlesham.

Frithestan was the Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester from 909 until his resignation in 931.

Edwin was the younger son of King Edward the Elder and Ælfflæd, his second wife. He drowned at sea in circumstances which are unclear. Edward the Elder died in 924, leaving five sons by three marriages. Of these, Edmund and Eadred were infants and thus excluded from the succession. Edward's careful work of expansion was undone when the Mercians chose Edward's oldest son Æthelstan—probably raised in Mercia at the court of Æthelflæd—to be their king while the West Saxons picked Ælfweard, elder son of Edward's second wife Ælfflæd, who was perhaps Edward's own choice as successor. Ælfweard's "sudden and convenient" death followed six weeks after that of his father, but Æthelstan appears not to have been recognised as king by the West Saxons until a year after his father's death, suggesting that there was considerable resistance to him and perhaps also support for Edwin.

Events from the 10th century in the Kingdom of England.

Ecgwynn first consort of Edward the Elder

Ecgwynn or Ecgwynna, was the first consort of Edward the Elder, later King of the English, by whom she bore the future King Æthelstan, and a daughter who married Sihtric Cáech, Norse king of Dublin, Ireland, and Northumbria. Extremely little is known about her background and life. Not even her name is given in any sources until after the Norman Conquest. The first to record it is William of Malmesbury, who presents it in Latinised guise as Egwinna and who is in fact the principal source for her existence.

English Benedictine Reform Re-emphasis of monastic rule at the expense of secular clergy in English religious communities in the late 10th century

The English Benedictine Reform or Monastic Reform of the English church in the late tenth century was a religious and intellectual movement in the later Anglo-Saxon period. In the mid-tenth century almost all monasteries were staffed by secular clergy, who were often married. The reformers sought to replace them with celibate contemplative monks following the Rule of Saint Benedict. The movement was inspired by European monastic reforms, and the leading figures were Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester, and Oswald, Archbishop of York.

Eadric was a tenth-century ealdorman of Wessex. He was the youngest of four sons of Æthelfrith, an ealdorman in Mercia, and his wife Æthelgyth. From 946 until his death in 949 Eadric was the second most senior ealdorman in England, surpassed only by his brother Æthelstan Half-King.

References

Sarah Rosamund Irvine Foot is an English early medieval historian, academic, and Anglican priest. She is the current Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Oxford.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Further reading

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Edward the Elder
 DISPUTED 
King of Wessex
924
Succeeded by
Athelstan