NameÆthelred I King of Wessex
Death23 Apr 871, Basing/Merton
BurialWimborne, Dorset
MotherOsburh (~810-853)
Misc. Notes
Succeeded his brother Aethelbert as King of Wessex in 865, and was succeededin 871 by his brother Alfred. His son Ethelwald was King of York, 901-905, and a pretender to the throne of Wessex/England in 901.

Anglo-Saxon king of Wessex, and son of King Æthelwulf, who ruled England during a time of great pressure from the invading Danes. He was an affable man, a devoutly religious man and the older brother of Alfred the Great, his second-in-command in the resistance against the invaders. Together, they defeated the Danish kings Bagseg and Halfdan at the battle of Ashdown in 870.


By his father's will he should have succeeded to Wessex on the death of his eldest brother Aethelbald (d. 860). He seems, however, to have stood aside in favour of his brother Aethelberht, king of Kent, to whose joint kingdoms he succeeded in 865 or 866. Aethelred's reign was one long struggle against the Danes. In the year of his succession a large Danish force landed in East Anglia, and in the year 868 Aethelred and his brother Alfred went to help Burgred of Mercia against this host, but the Mercians soon made peace with their foes. In 871 the Danes encamped at Reading, where they defeated Aethelred and his brother, but later in the year the English won a great victory at a place called "Aescesdun." Two weeks later they were defeated at Basing but partially retrieved their fortune by a victory at "Maeretun" (perhaps Marden in Wiltshire), though the Danes held the field. In the Easter of this year Aethelred died, perhaps of wounds received in the wars against the Danes, and was buried at Wimborne.


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Athelbert was the second son of Athelwulf, and succeeded to the sub-kingdom of Kent (which included Essex and Sussex) in 855, when his father abdicated and Athelbald (his elder brother) succeeded to the kingdom of Wessex.  It is possible that Athelbert succeeded to the sub-kingdom earlier, whenever their uncle Athelstan died, but there is no record of the date.  When Athelwulf returned from Rome in 856, Athelbald refused to concede the kingdom of Wessex, so Athelwulf retired to Kent, where Athelbert seemed more amenable to bow to his father's authority in that land.  It was probably no more than a token gesture, as Athelwulf was already in his sixties, and Athelbald now held authority over all of southern England.  When Athelbald died in 860 Athelbert succeeded to Wessex and does not seem to have appointed a new sub-king in Kent.  During his reign the Danes returned with a vengeance.  Sometime soon after his accession a Danish army landed either via the Thames or on the south coast and advanced as far as Winchester before two contingents of Saxons defeated them.  Towards the end of his reign a more organized force arrived under the command of Ragnar Lodbrok.  His fleet had been harrying the east coast of England, particularly Northumbria, and in the winter of 864/5 they stayed in Thanet.  Although the Saxons made a pact with them, the Danes plundered east Kent, before advancing back up the east coast.  Athelbert died towards the end of 865 (or possibly early in 866), aged about thirty-two.  He was buried at Sherborne Abbey He had not married and was succeeded by his brother Athelred.
Spouses
Marriageabt 868
ChildrenÆthelhelm (-898)
Last Modified 25 Jun 2003Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh