Hidden historical heroines (#21: Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians)

ErinLawless.co.uk

ÆthelflædÆthelflæd (868 – 918) was the eldest daughter of the beloved Saxon King Alfred the Great and was chronicled in the historical record as Myrcna hlæfdige, or ‘Lady of the Mercians’.

Born to Alfred, King of Wessex and his queen, Ealhswith of the House of Mercia, Æthelflæd (meaning “noble beauty”) knew only strife and warfare. The Danes (or Vikings, if you prefer) had been harrying the Saxon shores in an attempt at conquest for generations, but during the reign of Alfred their ferocity had increased under the leadership of a warrior called Guthrum. Alfred could not stand against them, and took to paying them a tithe in order to stay out of Wessex. Although ostensibly there was peace, Guthrum attacked the royal household at Chippenham at Christmas 878. Alfred and his young family had to flee on foot through the woods, struggling to make it to a stronghold island…

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