Family tree for King Aethelstan showing:
King Aethelstan was born in 895 (exact date not known) 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 married Aelfflaed in 899, Aethelstan was raised by his aunt, Aethelflaed in Mercia.
On 26th October 899, King Alfred died and Aethelstan’s father, Edward, became King. Edward spent much of his reign in battle against his cousin, Aethelwold who had been passed over when Alfred became King. Edward also faced invasions by the Vikings.
Edward wanted to fulfil his father’s ambition of ruling over a united England but was unable to take Northumbria from the Danes. King Edward the Elder died on 17th July 924 fighting a Welsh-Mercian rebellion.
King of England
There is some dispute as to whether Aethelstan became King immediately after the death of his father on 17th July 924. It is believed that Aethelstan’s half-brother Aelfweard may have become King on his father’s death. Aelfweard died on 2nd August 924 and Aethelstan may have succeeded at that point. He was crowned the following year at Kingston upon Thames by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Aethelstan was determined to fulfil his grandfather’s dream and unite England. 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 on 27th October 939 he was succeeded by his half brother, Edmund.
First published 2017; updated and republished Apr 21 2022 @ 10:28 am – Updated –
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2017 – 2022). King Aethelstan 895 – 935. Available: https://www.treesofblue.com/king-aethelstan-895-935. Last accessed June 26th, 2022