King Aethelred I of Wessex 840 – 871

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Aethelred I of Wessex

Father – Aethelwulf
Mother – Osburgh
Spouse – Wulfthryth
Children – Aethelhelm, Aethelwold
King of Wessex – 866 – 871
Predecessor – Aethelberht
Successor – Alfred



840 (around)
A son, Aethelred, was born to Aethelwulf and Osburgh.
840 (around)
The Vikings began making raids along the South coast of England.
843 (Easter)
Aethelred’s father, Aethelwulf was defeated by a Viking force at Carhampton.
849 (around)
Aethelred’s brother, Alfred, was born to Aethelwulf and Osburgh at Wantage, Berkshire.
850 (during)
A Viking raiding force was defeated by Aethelred’s brother Aethelstan in a naval battle off Sandwich, Kent.
851 (during)
Aethelred’s father, Aethelwulf, fought a Danish force at Acleah in Surrey and was victorious.
852 (during)
Aethelred’s eldest brother, Aethelstan, died.
853 (during)
Aethelred may have accompanied his brother Alfred, who was sent to Rome to be confirmed by the Pope. As a younger son, Alfred was possibly being prepared for a life in the Church.
853 (Easter)
Aethelred’s sister, Aethelswitha, married King Burgred of Mercia, sealing an alliance between Wessex and Mercia.
853 (Autumn)
Aethelwulf and Burgred of Mercia joined forces to defeat the Welsh led by Cyngen ap Cadell.
854 (around)
Aethelred’s mother, Osburgh, died.
854 (during)
Aethelred first witnessed his father’s charters.
855 (during)
Aethelred’s father, Aethelwulf and his brother, Alfred, went on a pilgrimage to Rome. Aethelred’s brother Aethelbald became regent of Wessex and his brother Aethelbert became subregulus of Kent.
856 (July)
Aethelwulf King of Wessex was betrothed to Judith, daughter of Charles, King of the Franks.
856 (1st October)
Aethelred’s father married Judith, daughter of Charles II, King of the Franks.
856 (October)
Aethelwulf, his new wife, Judith and his youngest son, Alfred returned to Wessex. Aethelwulf may have shared rule with Aethelbald or taken back full control.
858 (13th January)
Aethelred’s father died. His elder brother, Aethelbald, became King of Wessex.
860 (during)
Aethelred’s brother, Aethelbald, shocked church elders and the ealdormen by marrying his stepmother.
860 (20th December)
Aethelred’s brother Aethelbald, died at Sherborne. His brother Aethelberht became King of Wessex.
865 (during)
The Great Heathen Army led by the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok, Halfdan, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Ubba and Ivar the Boneless, landed in East Anglia.
866 (Autumn)
Aethelred became King of Wessex when his brother, Aethelberht, died.
866 (during)
The Great Heathen Army took York and established the Viking kingdom of Jorvik in the north.
866 (during)
Aethelred was crowned King Aethelred I of Wessex at Kingston-upon-Thames.
867 (during)
Osberht and Aelle of Northumbria united and attacked Viking York. However after breaching the city walls they were cut down in the narrow streets. Osberht and Aelle were both killed. Ivar the Boneless claimed victory over Northumbria and installed Egbert as puppet King.
868 (around)
Aethelred married Wulfthryth, possibly of Wiltshire.
868 (during)
A son Aethelhelm, was born to Aethelred and Wulfthryth.
868 (during)
Aethelred’s brother, Alfred married Ealhswith, daughter of a Mercian noble strengthening ties with Mercia.
868 (during)
The Viking force invaded Mercia and captured Nottingham. Alfred accompanied Aethelred and they marched north but by the time they arrived Burgred, King of Mercia had paid the Vikings off
869 (during)
The Great Heathen Army marched into East Anglia and defeated King Edmund of East Anglia. He was taken prisoner and horrifically murdered.
869 (Autumn)
The Viking force led by Ivar the Boneless sacked the monastery at Peterborough killing the monks and abbot.
869 (around)
A son, Aethelwold, was born to Aethelred and Wulfthryth.
870 (during)
Ivar the Boneless disappeared from records (possibly died or returned to Scandinavia)
870 (Autumn)
The Viking force now led by Halfdan attacked Wessex
870 (28th December)
Halfdan took Reading
871 (4th January)
Battle of Reading
Aethelred and Alfred attempted to lay siege to Reading but the Vikings had fortified the town with a dyke and palisade and the Saxons were defeated by the Vikings.
871 (8th January)
Battle of Ashdown
Aethelred had re-grouped his army and secured victory against the Vikings.
871 (22nd January)
Battle of Basing
Aethelred was defeated by the Vikings.
871 (22nd March)
Battle of Merton
Aethelred, supported by his brother Alfred, fought the Vikings. The battle was inconclusive and both sides withdrew. Aethelred had been badly injured in the battle.
871 (23rd April)
Aethelred died from injuries sustained in the Battle of Merton. His sons were considered too young to succeed and so Aethelred’s younger brother, Alfred became King.



Published Jan 29, 2018 @ 2:04 pm – Updated – Mar 13, 2018 @ 8:26 pm


Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018). Aethelred of Wessex 840 – 871. Available: Last accessed November 9th, 2018


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