Genealogy by Martha

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AEthelwulf Of Wessex

Male Abt 806 - 899  (~ 93 years)

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  • Name AEthelwulf Of Wessex 
    Born Abt 806  Wantage, Berkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 899  England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I8953  MyTree
    Last Modified 15 Aug 2009 

    Father III Ecgbert Of Wessex,   b. Abt 775, Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Feb 839  (Age ~ 64 years) 
    Mother Redburg Of Wessex,   b. 788, Wesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F3820  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Judith Of France 
    Married 1 Oct 856  Verberie sur Oise, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 17 Jul 2017 
    Family ID F4069  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Osburga Of Wessex 
    Married Bef 828  Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. AEthelbert Of Wessex,   d. 865
     2. AEthelbald Of Wessex,   b. Abt 828, Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 860  (Age ~ 32 years)
     3. AEthelred I Of Wessex,   b. Aft 830, Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 871  (Age < 39 years)
    +4. the Great AElfred Of Saxony,   b. 849, Wantage, Berkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Oct 899, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 50 years)
    Last Modified 17 Jul 2017 
    Family ID F4540  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Notes for King of Aethelwulf England, King of:
      Aethelwulf, King of England. Aethelwulf was King of England 839 - 858
      (Stuart, Royalty for Commoners, Page 171, Line 233-40). AKA:
      Aethelwulf, King of Wessex. AKA: Aethelwulf, King of Kent. Born: circa
      806 in Wessex, England, son of Egbert, King of England and
      Redburga=Raedburh N? (Stuart, Royalty for Commoners, Page 171).
      Married circa 839: Osburh of England, daughter of Olac, Princerna
      Regis of England. Aethelwulf visited Rome in 839. Osburh was his first
      wife. Annulled he and Osburh of England: in 853. Married on 1 Oct 856
      in Wessex, England: Judith, Princess De France, daughter of Charles
      II, King De France and Ermentrude D'Orleans (Stuart, Royalty for
      Commoners, Page 171). Ruled Kent for his father and on accession
      joined Mercia in prolonged wars against Danish Viking invaders,
      winning a major battle at Oakley in Surrey (851). Ethelwulf's gold
      ring can be seen in the British Museum. His younger brother Athelstan
      ruled Sussex, Surrey, and Kent (839-c851). On returning with his fifth
      son Alfred from a pilgrimage to Rome (856), Ethelwulf was made to
      share the throne with his son Ethelbald, the first of four in
      succession who became King of Wessex. Died: on 13 Jan 858 in England
      (Stuart, Royalty for Commoners, Page 171).

      ETHELWULF (d. 858) was the son of King Egbert of Wessex and reigned as
      sub-king in Kent from 825 and then over Wessex from 839 until 858.
      During his reign the Danish raids on England increased in size and
      frequency. There were attacks on Southampton and the coast of
      Dorsetshire in 840; on Kent in 841; on London, Rochester and
      Southampton in 842; on Somersetshire in 843 and again in 845; on
      Devonshire in 850. In that year a Danish army wintered in England for
      the first time, on Thanet. In 851 they stormed Canter-bury and London
      before being Defeated by Ethelwulf in Surrey. Kent was attacked again
      in 853. In 854-55 the Danish host once more wintered in England, on
      Sheppey. This is to list only the known descents upon the territory of
      Wessex and its dependencies. Other parts of England suffered too.
      Lindsey and East Anglia were attack-ed in 841, King Redwulf of
      Northumbria was killed in 844, King Beorhtwulf of Mercia was Defeated
      in 851 and we hear of a Danish army active in the inland parts of
      Mercia, in Shropshire, in 855.
      Ethelwulf and his subjects put up a stout resistance to the Danes. But
      it was exceedingly difficult to make effective provision for resisting
      an enemy whose forces were big, well-equipped and above all mobile.
      Other rulers in western Europe faced the same dilemma. It is
      instructive, as ever, to set the English experience in a continental
      context. The Viking bases on Thanet and Sheppey were mirrored in those
      of Dublin and Noirmoutier; attacks on trading communities like
      Southampton and London were matched in raids on Dorestadt, Quentovic
      and Rouen; and after wintering in England in 850-51 the Danes crossed
      to Francia and wintered there in 851-52. The West Saxon kings of the
      ninth century had much in common with their Frankish neighbours. Not
      surprisingly, Ethelwulf had Dealings with them. Two letters of the
      Frankish abbot, Lupus of Ferrieres -himself a pupil of a pupil of
      Alcuin, reveal that Ethelwulf had a Frankish secretary named Felix.
      When Ethelwulf married for the second time in 856 his queen was
      Judith, daughter of the West Frankish king Charles the Bald.
      Ethelwulf's second marriage took place while he was on his way back
      from a pilgrimage to Rome in 855, accompanied by his youngest son
      Alfred. The contemporary biography of Pope Benedict III (855-58) lists
      the treasures which Ethelwulf offered at the shrine of St. Peter: they
      included among much else a golden crown, a sword chased with gold,
      precious vestments and hangings decorated with gold embroidery. We are
      also told, by Asser in his Life of Alfred, that Ethelwulf undertook to
      make an annual payment of three hundred gold pieces to the see of
      Rome; as Asser pointed out, this was 'a great sum of money.' The
      pilgrimage and the offerings demonstrate Ethelwulf's piety and
      generosity. They also show that he was very wealthy. The same
      impression is given by other sources. The correspondence which Lupus
      of Ferrieres had with Ethelwulf was occasioned by his desire to secure
      a present of lead for roofing the monastery church at Ferrieres: and
      Ferrieres was an important monastic house, not beneath Alcuin's
      notice, its church probably an ample one with a roof which would
      require no small quantity of lead.

      Ethelwulf's most lavish act of piety at home in England consisted in a
      series of grants of lands and privileges to the churches of Wessex in
      854. The documents which purport to record these grants are peculiarly
      difficult to interpret, they are the most baffling of all Anglo-Saxon
      royal charters, and there is no agreement among scholars about what
      was going on. But what is plain is that Ethelwulf was a king who could
      afford to be generous where the royal lands were concerned. We can
      just make out a little of why this should have been so. Asser tells us
      that Ethelwulf took steps to ensure 'that his sons should not quarrel
      unnecessarily among them-selves.' He does not tell us exactly what
      these provisions were, but the will of his son Alfred, drawn up in the
      880s, casts a little light on the matter. Ethelwulf planned that his
      sons should succeed one another as kings of Wessex. Each reigning king
      was to be permitted by his younger brothers a life-interest in their
      share of the dynasty's landed wealth. In this way the union between
      the family property of the royal house and the office of king would be
      preserved. The reigning monarch would be assured of a substantial
      royal demesne, that is, of the material resources for effective rule.
      The constitutional implications of the scheme may not have presented
      themselves clearly to Ethelwulf. He was perhaps simply seeking a
      harmonious solution to a new set of circumstances, for while he and
      his father had been only children, or only survivors, he had fathered
      five sons, at a time of national danger when the preservation of a
      strong kingship was essential. Ethelwulf had only to look at his
      Frankish neighbours to see what might happen if some such steps as
      these were not taken. What the scheme presupposed was patient
      restraint on the part both of the temporarily disinherited younger
      sons and of the children of elder sons.
      Harmony within the dynasty was probably a good Deal more frail than
      our very discreet sources choose to reveal. While Ethelwulf was absent
      from England in 855-56 his eldest son Ethelbald plotted against him
      with the Bishop of Sherborne and the ealdorman of Somerset. Whether
      Ethelbald disapproved of his father's dynastic schemes or feared the
      possibility of offspring of his father's recent second marriage is not
      clear; but the results were serious. When Ethelwulf returned, his
      direct authority was confined to Kent and the south-east, while
      Ethelbald ruled in Wessex. As it so happened, Ethelwulf's plans did in
      the event work out well. On his death in 858 Ethelbald succeeded him
      and his younger brother Ethelbert ruled as a sub-king in Kent. On
      Ethelbald's death, childless, in 860, Ethelbert succeeded to the whole
      kingdom. On his death, childless, in 866, his brother Ethelred
      similarly. On Ethelred's death in 871 the youngest of the brothers,
      Alfred, succeeded. But Ethelred had not died childless, and his son
      Ethelwold was to try to supplant his cousin Edward, Alfred's son, a
      generation later.
      Doubtless the success of Ethelwulf's plan owed much to bio-logical
      accident. Of his five sons one predeceased him, three others died
      fairly young, and two of these three were childless. Yet that
      Ethelwulf could diagnose the sources of dynastic insecurity and take
      effective measures to neutralise them showed intelligence and
      Political courage. Ethelwulf has been dismissed by an eminent
      historian of the Anglo Saxon period as 'a religious and unambitious
      man for whom engagement in war and politics was an unwelcome
      consequence of rank.' This judgement seriously underestimates him. He
      was a forceful and capable ruler whose achievement was the essential
      precondition for the doings of his more famous son Alfred.