Æthelred, King of Wessex was born circa 847 in Wessex to Æthelwulf of Wessex (c795-858) and Osburga (-bef856) and died 23 April 871 Wessex of unspecified causes. He married Wulfthryth of Wessex (c840-) 864 JL in England.


King Æthelred I of Wessex (Old English: Æþelræd, sometimes rendered as Ethelred, "noble counsel"; c. 847 – 871) was King of Wessex from 865 to 871. He was the fourth son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex. He succeeded his brother, Æthelberht of Wessex (-865), as King of Wessex and Kent in 865. (See House of Wessex family tree).

Early Trip to Rome

In 853 his younger brother Alfred the Great (849-899) went to Rome with their father, , and according to contemporary references in the Liber Vitae of San Salvatore, Brescia, Æthelred accompanied him. He first witnessed his father's charters as an Ætheling in 854, and kept this title until he succeeded to the throne in 865.


He may have acted as an underking as early as 862, and in 862 and 863 he issued charters as King of the West Saxons. This must have been as deputy or in the absence of his elder brother, King Æthelberht, as there is no record of conflict between them and he continued to witness his brother's charters as a king's son in 864.


In the same year as Æthelred's succession as king, a great Viking army arrived in England, and within five years they had destroyed two of the principal English kingdoms, Northumbria and East Anglia. In 868 Æthelred's brother-in-law, Burgred king of Mercia, appealed to him for help against the Vikings. Æthelred and his brother, the future Alfred the Great, led a West Saxon army to Nottingham, but there was no decisive battle, and Burgred bought off the Vikings. In 874 the Vikings defeated Burgred and drove him into exile.

In 870 the Vikings turned their attention to Wessex, and on 4 January 871 at the Battle of Reading, Æthelred suffered a heavy defeat. Although he was able to re-form his army in time to win a victory at the Battle of Ashdown, he suffered further defeats on 22 January at Basing, and 22 March at Meretun.

In about 867, Æthelred effectively established a common currency between Wessex and Mercia by adopting the Mercian type of lunette penny, and coins minted exclusively at London and Canterbury then circulated in the two kingdoms.

Æthelred died shortly after Easter (15 April) 871,[12] and is buried at Wimborne Minster in Dorset.[13] He was succeeded by his younger brother, Alfred the Great.

Marriage and Family

Wulfthryth of Wessex (c840-) was a queen consort of the kingdom of Wessex, the wife of King Æthelred. Her name is sometimes Latinized as Wulfrida or Wilfrida.

Little is known of Wulfthryth. She witnessed a charter of 868, in which she has the title of regina ("queen"). The charter appears in the Codex Wintoniensis, but Wulfthryth is otherwise unrecorded in primary sources. Stephanie Hollis notes that 868 was the year of Alfred's marriage to a Mercian and that "Wulfthryth's name looks Mercian".

Wulfthryth is considered to be the likely mother of:

  1. Æthelhelm (c. 865 – c. 890)
  2. Æthelwold (died 902), the leader of Æthelwold's Revolt when Æthelwold disputed the throne with Edward the Elder (c870-924) after Alfred's death in 899.

Æthelred's descendants include the tenth-century historian, Æthelweard, and Æthelnoth, an eleventh-century Archbishop of Canterbury.


Offspring of Æthelred, King of Wessex and Wulfthryth of Wessex (c840-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Æthelhelm (865-c890) 865 Wessex 890
Æthelwold (c868-902) 868 Wessex 13 December 902 Holme, Cambridgeshire, England


Offspring of Æthelwulf of Wessex (c795-858) and Osburga (-bef856)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Æthelstan of Kent (-c852) 830 England, United Kingdom (Wessex) 852 England, United Kingdom (Wessex)
Æthelswith of Wessex (c838-888) 838 England, United Kingdom (Wessex) 888 Pavia, Italy Burgred of Mercia (c825-874)
Æthelbald of Wessex (-860) 833 Wessex 20 December 860 Sherborne, Dorsetshire, England Judith (844-870)
Æthelberht of Wessex (-865) 836 Wessex 865 England
Æthelred of Wessex (c847-871) 847 Wessex 23 April 871 Wessex Wulfthryth of Wessex (c840-)
Alfred the Great (849-899) 23 April 849 Wantage, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom 26 October 899 Winchester, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom Ealhswith (c852-905)



Footnotes (including sources)