Æthelstan of Kent was born circa 830 in England, United Kingdom (Wessex) to Æthelwulf of Wessex (c795-858) and Osburga (-bef856) and died circa 852 England, United Kingdom (Wessex) of unspecified causes.


Æthelstan, "King of the Dwellers in Kent, of the East Saxons, of the South Saxons and of Surrey". He was the eldest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex, was the King of Kent from 839 under the authority of his father. (See House of Wessex family tree).

When Æthelwulf became King of the West Saxons in 839 on the death of his father, King Egbert, he appointed Æthelstan to rule over Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex. He is styled king in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Æthelweard's chronicle calls him "King of the Dwellers in Kent, of the East Saxons, of the South Saxons and of Surrey". He attested a number of his father's charters as king in the 840s.

First English Naval Battle

In 851, Æthelstan and Ealdorman Ealhhere defeated a Viking fleet and army at Sandwich, Kent, described by Frank Stenton as "the first naval battle in recorded English history". Ealhhere's death in battle against Vikings is recorded c. 853. Æthelstan is not mentioned after 851 and presumably died before Æthelwulf went to Rome in 855 as he was not included in arrangements for government of the kingdom during his father's absence.

Research Notes

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.


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)

‡ General



  1. John, Eric (1966). Orbis Britanniae. Leicester University Press.
  2. Keynes, Simon; Lapidge, Michael, eds. (1983). Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred & Other Contemporary Sources. Penguin Classics. ISBN 978-0-14-044409-4.
  3. Kirby, D.P. (2000). The Earliest English Kings (Revised ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0-415-24211-8.
  4. Nelson, Janet L. (2004). "Æthelwulf (d. 858), king of the West Saxons". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/39264. Retrieved 23 October 2012. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  5. Stenton, Frank (1971). Anglo-Saxon England (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280139-5.
  6. Williams, Ann (1979). Brown, R. Allen, ed. "Some notes and considerations on problems connected with the English royal succession 860-1066". Proceedings of the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies. The Boydell Press. ISBN 0-85115-107-8.
  7. Williams, Ann (1991). "Athelstan king of Kent d. c. 852". In Williams, Ann; Smyth, Alfred P.; Kirby, D. P. A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain. Seaby. ISBN 1-85264-047-2.
  8. Yorke, Barbara (1990). Kings and Kingdoms in Early Anglo-Saxon England. Seaby. ISBN 1-85264-027-8.
  9. Æthelstan - Disambiguation