Sunday, November 15, 2020

King of the English: Æthelstan

Æthelstan (894 – 27 October 939), who was the eldest son of King Edward the Elder and and Ecgwynn was born during the latter years of the reign of his grandfather, King Alfred the Great.

Æthelstan was from a family of kings who slowly extended their power in the island of Britain from their base in Wessex. Wessex was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of England. Its capital was Winchester (Hampshire). Under Alfred the Great (r. 871–899), this dynasty fostered a political ideology that stressed the unity of the English-speaking peoples over a local West-Saxon identity.

When Edward the Elder died, Æthelstan was initially proclaimed king of the Mercians, while his brother, Ælfweard, became king of the West Saxons. However, Ælfweard died 16 days later, and Æthelstan was crowned king of Wessex in September 925.

Northumbria had been the first Anglo-Saxon kingdom to fall to the invading Scandinavians of the late ninth century, and from 866 York had been under Scandinavian rule.

In 927, upon the death of the Danish King of York, Sihtric (921 – 927), Æthelstan, King of the Anglo-Saxons (924 – 939), took control of the Viking Kingdom of York. and, in the wake of his victory, demanded and received submission from the remaining kings in Scotland, Strathclyde, and Wales. While previous Anglo-Saxon rulers sometimes held dominion over other kingdoms, they never united all the English kingdoms under direct sovereignty and received the submission of northern and western kings.

King of the English: Æthelstan

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