FEMALE Ealhswith

Wife of Ælfred the Great, king of Wessex.

In his account of Ælfred's marriage, Asser states that Ælfred's wife (whose name is not given) was the daughter of Æthelred, also called Mucill, comes Gainorum, by his wife Eadburh, who was of Mercian royal descent ["Anno Dominicae Incarnationes DCCCLXVIII, nativitatis Ælfredi regis vigesimo, idem ipse praefatus ac venerabilis Ælfred rex, secundarii tamen tunc ordine fretus, uxorem de Mercia, nobilem scilicet genere, filiam Æthelredi, Gainorum comitis, qui cognominabatur Mucill, subarravit et duxit. Cuius feminae mater Eadburh nominabatur, de regali genere Merciorum regis; ..." Asser, c. 29 (pp. 24-5)]. John of Worcester and Simeon of Durham say the same thing, both using Asser as their source [John Worc., s.a. 868 (1: 81); Sim. Durh., c. 70 (2: 75), c. 92 (2: 106)]. She appears as "mater regis" in a 901 charter of her son Eadweard ["Eadward rex. Ealhswið mater regis" Cart. Sax. 2: 234 (#589)]. William of Malmesbury calls her Æthelswith ["Egelswitha, filia Egelredi comitis" Wm. Malmes, Gesta Regum, c. 121 (1: 129)].

Date of birth: Unknown.
Place of birth:
Unknown.

Date of death: 5 December 902×3.
Place of death: Unknown.
An early calendar gives 5 December as the date of her death ["Quinta tenet ueram dominam Angloram Ealhswithe." Hampson (1841) 1: 419]. The year is uncertain. The earliest traceable tradition from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle appears to give the date 904 ["& Ealhswið gefor þy ilcan geare." ASC(A) s.a. 905 (orig. 904); "Eodem etiam anno Alchsuuytha regina, mater regis Eadwardi, decessit." Ann. S. Neots s.a. 904 (p. 144)], while the Mercian Register gives 902 ["Her Ealhswið forðferde." ASC(C) s.a. 902 (Mercian Register)]. Because the Mercian Register began the year at Midwinter while the Chronicle appears to have used Indictional dating, which began the year on previous 24 September (so that the Chronicle's 5 December "904" would actually be 5 December 903 by our current calendar), these two sources actually disagree by only one year. It is difficult to decide between them. Angus conjectured that the blank annals in the Chronicle were wrongly placed and that the date of the Mercian Register is right here, but that is not certain [Angus (1938), 204-6].

Father: Æthelred Mucil, ealdorman of the Gaini.
[See above.]

Mother: Eadburh, de regali genere Merciorum regis.
[See above.]

Spouse: m. 868, Ælfred "the Great", d. 26 October 899, king of Wessex.

Children:
See the page of Ælfred for details.

FEMALE Æthelflæd, b. say 870, d. Tamworth, 12 June 918, bur. Gloucester;
m. bef. 893, Æthelred, d. 911, bef. 13 June, subregulus (ealdorman) of the Mercians.

MALE Eadweard "the Elder", b. say ca. 872, d. 17 July 924, king of Wessex, 899-924; king of Mercia, ca. 918-924;
m. (1) Ecgwynn.
m. (2) bef. 901, Ælfflæd, d. 918,
daughter of ealdorman Æthelhelm.
m. (3) Eadgifu, d. aft. 966, daughter of Sigehelm, ealdorman of Kent.

FEMALE Æthelgifu, abbess of Shaftsbury.

FEMALE Ælfthryth, said to have d. 7 June 929;
m.
Baldwin II, d. 918, count/marquis of Flanders, 879-918.

MALE Æthelweard, d. 16 October 922, bur. Winchester.

MALEFEMALE Additional children, died in infancy.



Bibliography

Angus (1938) = W. S. Angus, "The Chronology of the Reign of Edward the Elder", English Historical Review 53 (1938): 194-210.

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.

Asser = William Henry Stevenson, ed., Asser's Life of King Alfred (new impression, Oxford, 1959).

Hampson (1841) = R. T. Hampson, Medii Ævi Kalendarium, or Dates, Charters, and Customs of the Middle Ages, 2 vols. (London, 1841).

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.)

Sim. Durh. = Thomas Arnold, ed., Symeonis Monachi Opera Omnia, 2 vols. (Rolls Series 75, 1882-5).

Wm. Malmes., Gesta Regum = William Stubbs, ed., Willelmi Malmesbiriensis Monachi De gestis regum Anglorum. libri quinque; Historiæ Novellæ libri tres, 2 vols. (Rolls series 90, 1887-9).


Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

First uploaded 20 June 2010.

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