Aethelred II

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Whose origins are unknown, seems to have been placed in control of Mercia by Alfred of Wessex after much of it had been recovered from the Danes c.878. In charters he is variously described as dux et patricius (leader and nobleman), ealdorman, procurator, and ‘lord of the Mercians’. He does not appear to have struck his own coins, suggesting the status of a sub-king. In 883 Alfred put him in charge of London, which had been a Mercian town until occupied by the Danes, and c.889 he married Alfred's eldest daughter, Aethelflaed. Her mother was Ealhswith, of the Mercian royal house, and she was therefore a niece of Burgred, king of the Mercians until c.874. Much of his time was spent campaigning with Alfred against continued Danish attacks. Aethelweard the chronicler described the part played by Aethelred in repelling Danish raids from their bases at Thorney Island and Benfleet c.893. Asser related that Aethelred pursued the Mercian onslaught against the Welsh with such vigour that they appealed directly to Alfred for protection. He remained on good terms with Alfred, who left him a sword in his will. Aethelred died in 911 and was buried at Gloucester. His work was continued by his widow Aethelflaed.

Subjects: British History.

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