FEMALE Ælfthryth

Wife of Eadgar, king of England.

Ælfthryth was married to king Eadgar in 965 ["Her on þissum geare Eadgar cyning genam Ælf[ðr]yðe him to cwene, heo wæs Ordgares dohtor ealdormannes." ASC(D)]. Although contemporary sources tell us little about her, later sources attributed the murder of Eadweard the Martyr to her. [See DNB 1: 167-8]

Date of birth: Unknown.
Place of birth:

Date of death: 17 November 999×1002.
Place of death: Unknown.
An eleventh century calendar gives her date of death as 17 November ["[17 Nov.] Obitusque Ælfþryð matris Æþelredi regis." Lib. Vit. Hyde, 272]. She was still living in 999, when she witnessed one of Æthelred's charters ["Ego Ælfðryð mater eiusdem regis fautrix extiti." Codex Dipl. Sax. 3: 314 (#703)], but was deceased in 1002 when Æthelred made a donation for her soul ["... ego Æðelred ... pro remedio animae patris mei Eadgari et matris meae Ælfðryð ..." Codex Dip;. Sax. 3: 323 (#707)].

Father: Ordgar, d. 971, ealdorman of Devon.

Mother: NN, d. bef. 981, bur. at Tavistock.

Both of Ælfthryth's marriages are mentioned by the Vita Sancti Oswaldi, which however confuses her with Eadgar's first wife ["Athelwoldus vero satis digniter principatum Orientalis regni acquisivit a rege, tenuitque magna virtute; qui accipiens filiam Ormeri ducis Occidentalium Anglorum, perduxit secum ad suum regnum, quæ vocitata erat Ælfritha; quam post mortem ejus rex Eadgar præpotentissimus accepit, ex qua duos habuit filios, quorum unus Eadwerd est dictus, alter vero Æthelredus." Vita Sancti Oswaldi, Hist. Ch. York, 1: 428-9]. The two marriages are also given by John of Worcester ["Rex Anglorum pacificus Eadgarus Ordgari ducis Domnaniæ filiam, Ælfthrytham nomine, post mortem viri sui Æthelwoldi, gloriosi ducis Orientalium Anglorum, in matrimonium accepit; ex qua duos filios, Eadmundum et Æthelredum, suscepit." John Worc. s.a. 964 (1: 140)].

(1) Æthelweald/Æthelwold, fl. d. prob. 962, ealdorman of East Anglia, 956-962.
Æthelweald succeeded as ealdorman of East Anglia on the retirement of his father Æthelstan "Half King" in 956 [Hart (1973), 128]. He was still living in 962, when he witnessed several charters as ealdorman ("dux") [Cart. Sax. 3: 312 (#1082), 316 (#1085), 322 (#1092), 327 (#1095)]. He probably died in the same year, for in 962 his brother Æthelwine begins to sign as dux in his place [ibid., 3: 314 (#1083), 324 (#1093)]. See the paper by Hart on Athelstan 'Half King' and his family [Hart (1973)].

(2) Eadgar, d. 8 July 975, king of England, 959-975.

See the page of Eadgar for more details.

MALE Eadmund, b. ca. 966, d. 971, bur. Romsey.

MALE Æthelred II "the Unready", b. ca. 968, d. 23 April 1016, king of England, 978×9-1013, 1014-6;
m. (1)
Ælfgifu (?);
m. (2) 1002, Emma, d. 6×7 March 1052,
daughter of Richard I of Normandy.


Possible child by Æthelweald:

MALE Leofric, fl. 14 June 987;
perhaps m. Leoflæd, founders of St. Neots Priory, 979×84.
["... sub testimonio Æthelsii, filii Athelstani Aldermani, et Leofrici filii Æthelwyni* Aldermanni, ..." * version A; alternate readings: Æthelwoldi, B; Athelwardi, B in p.iv., Hist Rameseiensis, c. 33, Chron. Rams., 61; Hart argues that when the two versions disagree, B is usually the superior, Hart (1973), 131 & n. 2]. For Hart's theory that this Leofric was the same as the Leofric who married Leoflæd and founded St. Neots Priory [Liber Eliensis ii, 29-30 (pp. 103-4)], see Hart's paper on Athelstan 'Half King' [Hart (1973), 130 & n. 5].

If the testimony of the not always reliable Geoffrey Gaimar can be believed, Ælfthryth did have a child by Æthelweald [Gaimar 3728-35].

Conjectured additional child by Æthelweald:

MALE Æthelnoth.
The Leofric who founded St. Neots had a brother named Æthelnoth ["Ægelnoþus, frater Leofrici" Liber Eliensis ii, 30 (p. 104)]. He would belong as a son of Ælfthryth only if Hart's above identification is correct, and if Hart if right in preferring version B to version A in the statement of Leofric's parentage.


ASC = Charles Plummer, Two of the Saxon Chronicles parallel, based on the earlier edition by John Earle, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1892-9). ASC(A) indicates the "A" manuscript of the chronicle, and similarly for the other manuscripts.

Chron. Rams. = W. Dunn Macray, ed., Chronicon Abbatiæ Rameseiensis (Rolls Series 83, London, 1886).

Codex Dipl. Sax. = John M. Kemble, ed., Codex Diplomaticus Aevi Saxonici, 6 vols. (London, 1839-48).

DNB = Dictionary of National Biography.

Gaimar = Thomas Duffus Hardy & Charles Trice Martin, ed. & trans., Lestorie des Engles solum la translacion Maistre Geffrei Gaimar, 2 vols. (London 1888-9).

Hart (1973) = Cyril Hart, "Athelstan 'Half King' and his family", Anglo-Saxon England 2 (1973): 115-144.

Hist. Ch. York = James Raine, ed., The Historians of the Church of York, and its Archbishops, 3 vols. (Rolls Series 71, London, 1879-86).

John Worc. = Benjamin Thorpe, ed., Florentii Wigorniensis monachi chronicon ex chronicis, 2 vols., (London, 1848-9). (The work formerly attributed to Florence of Worcester is now generally attributed to John of Worcester.)

Lib. Vit. Hyde = Walter de Gray Birch, Liber Vitae: Register and Martyrology of New Minister and Hyde Abbey Winchester (London, 1892).

Liber Eliensis = E. O. Blake, Liber Eliensis (Camden 3rd. ser. 92, London, 1962).

Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

First uploaded 20 June 2010.

Minor revision uploaded 27 June 2010 (added reference from Geoffrey Gaimar, pointed out by Todd Farmerie).

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