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Æthelred I
King of Wessex
Reign 865–871
Born c. 840
Birthplace Wessex, England
Died 23 April 871, Wimborne. Dorset
Buried Wimborne
Predecessor Æthelberht
Successor Alfred the Great
Consort to Wulfrida
Offspring Æthelwold, Æthelhelm
Father Æthelwulf of Wessex
Mother Osburga

King Æthelred of Wessex (Old English: Æþelræd, sometimes rendered as Ethelred, "noble counsel") (c. 840 – 23 April 871) was the fourth son of King Æthelwulf, and an older brother of Alfred the Great. He succeeded his brother, Æthelberht (Ethelbert), as King of Wessex and Kent in 865.[1] He married Wulfrida and had two sons, Æthelwold, the elder, and Æthelhelm, the younger.

Æthelred was not able to control the increasing Danish raids on England. On 4 January 871 at the Battle of Reading, Ethelred suffered a heavy defeat.[2] Although Æthelred was able to re-form his army in time to win a victory at the Battle of Ashdown,[3] he suffered another defeat on 22 January at the Battle of Basing,[4] and was killed at the Battle of Merton on 23 April 871.

Æthelred is buried at Wimborne in Dorset.[5] Following his death, he was popularly regarded as a saint, but never canonised. He was succeeded by his brother, King Alfred the Great.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Johnson, pp. 49.
  2. ^ Chisholm, p. 290.
  3. ^ Lyon, pp. 20.
  4. ^ Stephen, pp. 890.
  5. ^ Stephen, pp. 27.
  6. ^ Asser, pp. 343-359.



  • Asser, John; Simon Keynes, Michael Lapidge (1983). Alfred the Great. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0140444092.  
  • Babington, Anthony (1978). The rule of law in Britain from the Roman occupation to the present day. Published by B. Rose. ISBN 0859921085.  
  • Chisholm, Hugh (1910). The Encyclopædia Britannica (11th Edition ed.).  
  • Johnson, Rossiter; Charles Francis Horne, John Rudd (1905). The Great Events by Famous Historians. The National Alumni.  
  • Lyon, Henry R. (1967). Alfred the Great. Volume XIV. Oxford University Press.  
  • Oman, Charles W. C. (1972). A History of England. Ayer Publishing. ISBN 0836999207.  
  • Oman, Charles W. C. (1910). England before the Norman Conquest. Methuen.  
  • Stephen, Leslie; George Smith, Sidney Lee, Robert Blake (1889). Dictionary of national biography. Smith, Elder, & Co.  
Æthelred of Wessex
Born: c. 837 Died: 23 April 871
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Wessex
Succeeded by
Alfred the Great
King of Kent
Family information
Egbert of Wessex Æthelwulf Æthelred of Wessex
Oslac Osburga

Simple English

Ethelbert or Æþelberht of Wessex (meaning "Magnificent Noble") was the third son of Ethelwulf of Wessex and was born around 835. He got his first taste of kingship in 855 when he was left in charge of Kent while his father, Ethelwulf, was in Rome. His brother Ethelbald was left in charge of the West Saxons. After his father and brother's deaths he succeeded his brother, Ethelbald of Wessex, as King of Wessex in 860.[1] Ethelwulf seems to have intended Ethelbert to establish a cadet branch of West Saxon kings in Kent. However, when Ethelbald died in 860, the kingship of the West Saxons passed to Ethelbert, probably because both his younger brothers, Ethelred and Alfred, were too young to lead a country facing Viking attacks.


  1. Barbara Yorke, Kings and Kingship in Early Anglo-Saxon England (London: Seaby, 1990. ISBN 1-85264-927-8), pp. 148–158 & p. 133, table 15.

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