King Aethelstan 895 – 939

King Aethelstan

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Short Biography

Aethelstan was born in 895 (exact date not known) and died 27th October 939. He was the eldest child of King Edward the Elder and Ecgwynn of Mercia. There has always been dispute as to whether Edward and Ecgwynn were married and historians are still divided on the subject. After Edward remarried in 899, Aethelstan was raised by his aunt, Aethelflaed in Mercia.

Aethelstan became King after the death of his father on 17th July 924. He was crowned the following year at Kingston upon Thames by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

King Alfred the Great, Aethelstan’s grandfather, had had a dream of uniting all kingdoms of England under one ruler. Aethelstan determined to fulfil that dream. He married one of his half-sisters to Sigtryggr, the Viking ruler of Northumbria to promote peace with the Danes. When Sigtryggr died, his successor did not support the alliance so Aethelstan invaded Northumbria and took York. Soon afterwards he was recognised as ruler of Northumbria by the Kings of Scotland and Strathclyde. The rulers of Wales paid homage to him the same year. In 937 Aethelstan was victorious at the Battle of Brunaburh which saw Constantine of Scotland, Owain of Strathclyde and Olaf Guthfrithson of Dublin defeated. The success saw Aethelstan realise his grandfather’s dream of uniting all of England.

Aethelstan did not marry and had no children. When he died in 939 he was succeeded by his half brother, Edmund. 


Published Feb 05, 2017 @ 8:35 pm – Updated – Dec 28, 2021 @ 2:59 pm

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2017 – 2020). King Aethelstan 895 – 935. Available: Last accessed December 29th, 2021