Ealhswith, Wife of King Alfred the Great

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The Freelance History Writer

Ealhswith was a Mercian princess who married Alfred, Anglo-Saxon king of Wessex. She was never called queen and she never witnessed any charters during Alfred’s administration. But she was the mother of illustrious children and she is remembered as “the true and beloved lady of the English”.

We know very little about Ealhswith’s life. She was the daughter of Aethelred Mucil, an east Mercian nobleman. Asser tells us he was the ealdorman of the Gaini around Gainsborough. This may be an ancient tribe of Mercia. Ealhswith’s mother was a scholar named Eadburgh who was well known at court.

In the year 868, Alfred and his brother King Aethelred were campaigning, trying to rid England of the Vikings. King Burhred of Mercia was invaded by the “Great Army” of Scandinavians and they had camped out near Nottingham. Burhred sent a message to Alfred and Aethelred, appealing for help in the fight…

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