force known as the Great Summer Army, led by Bagsecg, arrived in England. They joined forces with the Viking Halfdan
and began raiding along the Wessex border.
870 (28th December)
Halfdan took Reading and fortified it with a dyke and palisade.
871 (4th January)
Battle of Reading
A force led by Aethelflaed’s father, Alfred and his brother King Aethelred I, attempted to regain control of Reading but were defeated by the Vikings.
871 (8th January)
Battle of Ashdown
Aethelflaed’s father Alfred and his brother King Aethelred led the Anglo-Saxon
army to a successful victory against the Vikings.
871 (22nd January)
Battle of Basing
Aethelflaed’s father Alfred and King Aethelred suffered a defeat by the Vikings.
871 (22nd March)
Battle of Meretun
Aethelflaed’s father Alfred and uncle, King Aethelred, were defeated by a Viking force after a long and bloody battle. King Aethelred was badly wounded in the battle.
871 (15th April)
King Aethelred died. Aethelflaed’s father Alfred became King because Aethelred’s two young sons, Aethelwold
, were considered too young to take the throne.
After suffering a year of minor defeats by the Danes, King Alfred was forced to buy them off. They promised to leave Wessex alone for five years
The Viking force returned to Northumbria and began to re-establish their authority there.
The Viking force moved to Mercia and captured Repton
The Vikings forced King Burgred
of Mercia into exile and took control of the county by installing Ceolwulf as a puppet king.
Aethelflaed’s brother, Edward
, was born.
Aethelflaed’s sister, Aethelgifu was born.
The Viking force, led by Guthrum
, attacked Wessex and took Wareham, Dorset. Alfred lay siege to Wareham but a new Viking force of around 120 ships was seen off the coast meaning success was unlikely.
Aethelflaed’s father, Alfred made a deal with Guthrum, leader of the Vikings and demanded an exchange of hostages in return for peace. Guthrum did not keep the deal, he killed his Saxon hostages and moved to Exeter, leaving the Viking ships at Wareham. Luckily for the Saxons, a freak storm destroyed many of the ships.
In the north, the Vikings began dividing up Northumbria preparing to settle the land permanently.
The Vikings moved south and began dividing up Mercia preparing to settle the land permanently.
Aethelflaed’s sister, Aelfthryth, was born.
The Vikings made further raids on Wessex taking land in Wiltshire and Hampshire.
Aethelred, Archbishop of Canterbury
, wrote to the Pope complaining about Alfred’s practice of paying off the Vikings with money raised from the people and the Church. The Pope wrote to Alfred warning him of the consequences of impugning on the authority of the See of Canterbury.
878 (6th January)
Guthrum returned with a large force and marched on Chippenham where Alfred was resident. Most of the town’s inhabitants were killed but Alfred managed to escape. It is likely that this was the last straw for the Witan and that Alfred lost their support due to the fact that his attempts to pay off the Vikings had not worked. Alfred was forced to leave Wessex in fear for his life. He sought refuge in the Somerset marshes at Athelney.
King Alfred and the Cakes
The Alfred burnt the cakes legend stems from this period. The legend states that Alfred was taken in and given shelter by a woman who did not recognise him. She asked him to watch some cakes for her but he was so taken up with his thoughts about how to defeat the Vikings that the cakes were burnt.
Battle of Edington
Alfred had sent messages to the West Saxons asking them to muster. They marched to Edington where they defeated the Danish army and forced the Danish leader Guthrum
to accept baptism and peace terms. The Treaty of Wedmore recognised Danish occupation of England north of the line from London to Chester. Guthrum was to withdraw to behind this line and be recognised as King of his own independent kingdom. Guthrum’s new Danish Kingdom in England was subject to new laws called Danelaw
As per the terms of the Treaty of Wedmore, agreed between Alfred and Guthrum, the Viking leader and around 30 chief Vikings were baptised.
Guthrum, who had been baptised Aethelstan, moved his people to Mercia.
King Alfred began fortifying a number of prominent towns to make any future Viking attack more difficult. Wessex was covered with a network of public strongholds, several of which have a regular grid of streets that can still be seen today. Examples are Winchester, Chichester and Wareham. He also organised a local defence system and spent time and money building ships to match those of the Vikings.
Another band of Vikings arrived in England. They sailed up the Thames and Alfred was concerned that they would join with Guthrum and mount a new attack. However, after a short while they left England and sailed to France.
Guthrum moved his people to East Anglia where he ruled as King Aethelstan.
Aethelflaed’s brother, Aethelweard, was born.
Alfred’s new navy won a naval battle against the Vikings, destroying two Viking ships and forcing the surrender of two others.
A band of Vikings arrived and attacked Rochester in Kent. The town had been fortified by Alfred in 878 and was able to hold out until Alfred arrived with the army and defeated the Vikings.
Alfred the Great captured London. However, as London was in the Kingdom of Mercia, Alfred, put the city in the control of Ealdorman Aethelred of Mercia.
Aethelflaed , married Aethelred, Ealdorman of Mercia. The marriage had been arranged by Alfred so that he could have some control over Mercia and London.
A daughter Aelfwynn was born to Aethelflaed and her husband Aethelred of Mercia. The exact date of her birth is unknown but is thought to have been early in her parent’s marriage.
Aethelflaed and Aethelred fortified Worcester, the first of many fortified burhs that they would construct.
Guthrum, who had ruled East Anglia as King Aethelstan, died. The peace he had agreed with Alfred was honoured by his successor.
Alfred established a permanent army setting up a system where only half the army was to be on service at any one time. Those not on service could be called on as reinforcements in times of need.
Aethelflaed and Aethelred founded the Priory of St Oswald in Gloucester. The date is disputed.
A large Danish Viking contingent arrived in around 250 ships. They landed in Kent and a number of them took over a half completed fortified building in Appledore. At the same time another Viking force of 80 ships landed in northern Kent and made camp at Milton. Alfred stationed his army midway between the two.
Battle of Buttington
Aethelflaed’s husband, Aethelred led an army of Mercians, West Saxons and Welshmen to victory in this battle against the Vikings led by Haesten
Alfred entered into negotiations with Haesten, leader of the Viking force at Milton. A settlement was reached whereby Alfred gave Haesten money and treasures while Haesten gave Alfred hostages and swore an oath of peace.
Soon after swearing a peace oath Haesten took his army and laid waste to Benfleet in Essex.
Battle of Farnham
While Alfred had been busy trying to make peace with Haesten, the Appledore Vikings had raided towns in Hampshire and Berkshire. They were returning to Appledore with their booty, but were cut off by Alfred’s son, Edward who recovered the stolen treasure and put them to flight. Edward then pursued the Vikings, caught up with them and held them under siege on an island in the River Colne.
While Alfred and Edward had been occupied with the Vikings in Kent, the East Anglia Vikings had sailed to Exeter and lay siege to the city. Alfred had intended to help his son defeat the Vikings on the island but had to divert and go to Exeter and lay siege to the city. A further group of Vikings marched west probably to relieve the siege of Exeter but they were met at Buttington by a large force led by the Ealdormen of Mercia, Somerset and Wiltshire who succeeded in putting them to flight and the Vikings returned to East Anglia. Soon afterwards the Vikings in Exeter withdrew and also returned to East Anglia.
The Vikings built a new fort about 20 miles north of London by the river Lea.
A son, Aethelstan
, was born to Aethelflaed’s brother Edward and Ecgwynn
. Historians are divided on the subject of whether or not Aethelstan was illegitimate.
King Alfred led an attack on the Viking fortress by the river Lea but was beaten back.
Alfred built two new fortresses by the river Lea which meant that the Viking force further up the river were unable to get their boats out to sea.
895 (late Autumn)
On learning of Alfred’s actions the Vikings abandoned their boats on the river Lea and marched overland to Bridgenorth on the river Severn where they built a new fort.
The Vikings gave up their raids on English towns and returned to East Anglia and Northumbria.
899 (26th October)
King Alfred died. He was succeeded by his son, Aethelflaed’s brother Edward, known as Edward The Elder
, King of the Angles and Saxons.
900 (8th June)
Aethelflaed’s brother Edward was crowned King of the Angles and Saxons.
Aethelflaed’s husband, Aethelred of Mercia, became ill and Aethelflaed took control of Mercia.
A group of Norsemen led by Ingimund, that had been expelled from Dublin, asked Aethelflaed’s permission to settle in the Wirral. She agreed that they could stay on the land.
The Norsemen led by Ingimund that had settled in the Wirral attacked Chester but were beaten off by Aethelflaed’s forces.
Aethelred and Aethelflaed fortified the town of Chester. This gave them control of the lower Dee and also a fortified, protected Burh to use as base from which to harry the Northumbrian Danes.
Aethelflaed founded the Church of St Werburgh. It would later to become Chester Cathedral.
910 (5th August)
Battle of Tettenhall (Wednesfield)
The combined forces of Mercia and Wessex defeated the Northumbrian Vikings.
Aethelred of Mercia died and Aethelflaed became sole ruler of Mercia. She did not take the title Queen but was known as the Lady of the Mercians. Aethelflaed’s brother, Edward, took control of the cities of London and Oxford.
Aethelflaed fortified Bridgnorth.
The towns of Tamworth and Stafford were fortified on Aethelflaed’s orders.
Aethelflaed’s brother King Edward succeeded in taking East Anglia from the Danes.
The iron age hill forts at Edisbury and Warwick were fortified on Aethelflaed’s order .
Aethelflaed built fortified burhs at Runcorn and Chirbury.
The body of St Edmund of East Anglia was re-interred at Bury St Edmunds.
Aethelflaed led a successful expedition into Wales to avenge the murder of an abbot. She captured the wife of the king of Brycheiniog.
Aethelflaed led a Mercian force and lay siege to Derby. The siege was successful and the town fell.
Aethelflaed formed alliances with two Scottish Kings, Constantine II of Alba and Constantine Mac Aed of Strathclyde, against Viking-held York.
Aethelflaed began negotiating with disaffected groups in Northumbria and took Leicester without the use of force.
918 (12th June)
Aethelflaed died at Tamworth in Staffordshire. She was buried beside her husband at Gloucester.
918 (Late June)
Aethelflaed’s daughter Aelfwynn was recognised as Lady of the Mercians.
Edward the Elder was concerned that Mercia may seek independence and so removed Aelfwynn and took control of Mercia himself.