Family tree for King Aethelred of Wessex showing:
King Aethelred of Wessex was born in 847, the fourth son of King Aethelwulf of Wessex and his wife Osburgh. His brothers Aethelstan, Aethelbald, Aethelbert had been born earlier. He also had a sister Aethelswith. Aethelere’s younger brother, Alfred was born around 849.
It is believed that in 853, Aethelred accompanied his younger brother, Alfred, to Rome where they met the Pope.
In 855, King Aethelwulf and Alfred went on a pilgrimage to Rome. Aethelred’s brother Aethelstan had died so Aethelbald became regent in their father’s absense. Aethelwulf returned in Autumn 856 with a new young wife – Judith, daughter of King Charles II of France.
Path to the Throne
On 13th January 858, King Aethelwulf died and Aethelbald succeeded to the throne. Aethelbald proceeded to shock the earldormen and church elders by marrying his stepmother, Judith.
Aethelbald died on 20th December 860 and Aethelred’s brother Aethelbert became King. When Aethelbert died in the Autumn of 865, Aethelred became King of Wessex.
Throughout his life, Aethelred’s family were constantly fighting off attacks by the Vikings and the Welsh. Aethelred’s sister, Aethelswith, was married to King Burgred of Mercia as part of a treaty of mutual assistance against the invaders.
In 865 the Great Heathen Army invaded East Anglia. Although they accepted a payment to leave they soon returned. In 870 they attacked Wessex and a series of battles followed. In 871 Aethelred was mortally wounded at the Battle of Meretum.
Family and Succession
Aethelred married Wulfthryth in 868 and they had two children, Aethelhelm and Aethelwold.
Aethelred died on 23rd April 871 from the injuries he sustained at Meretum. His two sons were infants at the time of his death and so the succession passed to Aethelred’s younger brother Alfred.
First published 2017; updated and republished Apr 27 2022 @ 3:25 pm – Updated –
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2017 – 2022). King Aethelred of Wessex 847 – 871. Available: https://www.treesofblue.com/king-aethelred-of-wessex-847-871. Last accessed June 26th, 2022