World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Æthelbald of Wessex

Article Id: WHEBN0000048585
Reproduction Date:

Title: Æthelbald of Wessex  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Alfred the Great, Wessex, Ermentrude of Orléans, Cynewulf of Wessex, Ockley
Collection: 830S Births, 860 Deaths, 9Th-Century English Monarchs, Burials at Sherborne Abbey, House of Wessex, West Saxon Monarchs
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Æthelbald of Wessex

King of Wessex
Tenure 13 January 858 – 20 December 860
Predecessor Æthelwulf
Successor Æthelbert
Spouse Judith of Flanders
House House of Wessex
Father Æthelwulf
Mother Osburh
Born Wessex, England
Died 20 December 860(860-12-20)
Burial Sherborne Abbey

King Æthelbald of Wessex or Ethelbald (Old English: Æþelbald) was the second of the five sons of King Æthelwulf of Wessex and Osburh.[1] He was king of Wessex from 858 to 860.[2]

He witnessed his father's charters as a kings' son in the 840s, and in 850 he received the rank of Ealdorman. In 855 he became regent of Wessex while his father, Æthelwulf, visited Rome,[1] his elder brother Æthelstan having died in 851 or shortly after.[3] His younger brother Æthelbert became king of Kent.[1]

Æthelwulf returned a year later, having taken as his second wife, the Carolingian King Charles the Bald's thirteen-year-old daughter Judith.[4] According to Alfred the Great's biographer, Asser, during Æthelwulf's absence there may have been a plot hatched to prevent the king's return either by Æthelbald, or by Ealhstan, Bishop of Sherborne and Eanwulf, Ealdorman of Somerset, or by all three. It is probable that Æthelbald was involved in such a plot because of his father's marriage to Judith.[2] The marriage to a Frankish princess who had her own royal lineage could have produced heirs more throne-worthy than Æthelbald.[1]

To avoid a civil war, Æthelwulf allowed Æthelbald to continue to rule Wessex itself (or the western part of Wessex[2]) while he took Kent and the other eastern parts of the kingdom.[4] Ann Williams dates the start of Æthelbald's reign to 855, regarding father and son as joint kings from Æthelwulf's return from Rome in 856 until his death in 858.[5] The absence of any coins in Æthelbald's name during this period suggests the coinage continued to be in Æthelwulf's name until his death. Æthelbald then became the king of Wessex, while Æthelbert again became king of Kent.

Judith's charisma as a Carolingian princess was so great that rather than lose the prestige of the connection Æthelbald then married her, in spite of strong clerical opposition, as marriage to a widowed stepmother was considered incestuous.[6] Little is known of his reign and only one charter survives, witnessed by king Æthelbald, king Æthelbert and Judith, suggesting that he was on good terms with his brother.[1]

Æthelbald died at Sherborne in Dorset on 20 December 860. Asser, who was hostile to Æthelbald both because of his revolt against his father and because of his uncanonical marriage, described him as "iniquitous and grasping", and his reign as "two and a half lawless years".[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e Miller, 'Æthelbald'
  2. ^ a b c Nelson, 'Æthelwulf'
  3. ^ Keynes & Lapidge eds, pp. 231–2
  4. ^ a b Stenton, p. 245
  5. ^ Williams, 'Æthelbald'; Williams, 'Æthelwulf'
  6. ^ Ortenberg, pp. 211–212
  7. ^ Keynes & Lapidge eds., pp. 70, 73


  • Miller, Sean (2004). "Æthelbald (d. 860), king of the West Saxons". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.   (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  •   (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  • Keynes, Simon; Lapidge, Michael, eds. (1983). Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred & Other Contemporary Sources. Penguin Classics.  
  • Ortenberg, Veronica (2010). "'The King from Overseas: Why did Æthelstan Matter in Tenth-Century Continental Affairs?". In Rollason, David; Leyser, Conrad; Williams, Hannah. England and the Continent in the Tenth Century:Studies in Honour of Wilhelm Levison (1876–1947). Brepols.  
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Wessex
Succeeded by
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.