” aethelflaed “Lady of the mercians””

  • 16 марта 2011 г.
  • 1771 Слова

College of Modern European Languages
Department of English

” Aethelflaed “Lady of the Mercians””

Michael Domanych
third-year student
group 315

Chernivtsi - 2010
1. The eldest child of King Alfred the Great
2. Aethelflaed's wedding
3. The minster in Gloucester4. "Lady of the Mercians"
5. Aethelflaed's final battle
6. Aethelflaed's daughter

1. The eldest child of King Alfred the Great
Like Boudicca before and Joan d'Arc after her Aethelflaed's story is a meld of fact and legend, not an area where the academic historians like to tread. Add to this the potential for reference to modern gender politics and the story is treated to the wholerange from extreme academic caution to a degree of fictitious romanticism. This telling of the story will take a path through the various versions that ignores some possible anomalies, though it does leave out some detail.
Aethelflaed was the eldest child of King Alfred the Great. She was born about 868 AD. She could well be called a Warrior Princess and was an able tactician and diplomat, beingvoted "Lady of the Mercians" on the death of her husband. The story has a very hazy start, little is known of her before her marriage to Aethelred, Lord of the Mercians. Her very name means "Noble Beauty".
The story should start before Aethelflaed's marriage, at the time when King Alfred was in near exile on the island of Aethelney, in the Somerset marshes, in 877 and the future of the Englishnation was very much in the balance. There is no record that Aethelflaed was also there but it was evident, from Aethelflaed's first appearance in the records in 879, that a very special relationship existed between him and Alfred.
In the year between, 878, Alfred had rebuilt his army and routed the Vikings in a major battle. He now needed a strong ally to help guard his northern border.
The marriagebetween Aethelflaed and Aethelred was one of political necessity, but one wonders if any of the parties had any idea of just how important this union was to be to the fledgling English nation!
The most popular year for Aethelflaed's birth is 869, which would place her age at ten when her future husband took over the rule of Mercia. Thus there must have been a considerable age difference.
2.Aethelflaed's wedding
The age at which Aethelflaed married is also one of the unknowns but choosing the age of 15 from those offered in the text books helps remove some other anomalies. There is an enduring story about her journey to be wed.
The wedding would form a strong alliance between Wessex and Mercia, which was not in the best interests of the Danish invaders. This was a brutal age whenarmies and raiding parties swept back and forth over both English and Danish territory, each trying to gain or regain territory. Death might lurk round any corner in a forest path.
And so it was that the Danes sent a band to intercept and murder Aethelflaed and her wedding party. Half of Aethelflaed's party were killed in the first onslaught, but the remainder fell back to a defensive position in atrench. Here, is it said, our heroine took up a sword and fought alongside her guards, driving the Danes away.
All noble Saxon children would be expected to take weapons training, girls and boys. Every hand that could wield a weapon would be needed in the event of a raid and the children and women would be expected to help defend themselves when traveling. Every free adult Saxon was permitted tocarry at least the seax, a long dagger , the very icon of being a Saxon and where the name comes from.
So, the marriage took place and it is evident that Aethelflaed took an active part in running Mercia very soon afterwards, her name appears on charters granting land. Though the couple never took the titles of king and queen it was evident that they used the royal prerogatives with Alfred's...
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