Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ethelfreda, Lady of the Mercians

Yesterday Revisited discusses the daughter of Alfred the Great. She lived in desperate times.
Ethelfleda was the eldest child of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and the man who with his armies successfully prevented Danish invaders from conquering England sea to sea. A wise as well as redoubtable military leader, he knew that the Kingdom of Mercia in central England would be stronger as an ally than as a subject nation. He therefore married his daughter, Ethelfleda, to Ethelred of Mercia , cementing a partnership to stay strong against the Danes.

She was well prepared for her role at Ethelred's side. She was, like other high born Saxon girls, educated not only in academic subjects but as a warrior, learning archery and swordplay. She was mindful of the Saxon people's neighbors, the Celts of Wales, and throughout her life strove for and won the trust and loyalty of many of the Welsh leaders. On her wedding journey to Mercia Ethelfleda's party was attacked by Danes who sought to kill her and break the alliance between Mercia and Wessex. Though half her force was killed in the first attack, Ethelfleda herself led the defense against the second, using a trench as a fortress and defeating the Danes.

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