Biography of King Æthelbald of Wessex -860

Paternal Family Tree: Wessex

851 Battle of Ockley

858 Death of King Æthelwulf

860 Death of King Æthelbald

860 Battle of Winchester

King Æthelbald of Wessex was born to King Æthelwulf of Wessex and Osburgh Queen Consort Wessex.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 661. This year, at Easter, Kenwal fought at Pontesbury; and Wulfere (age 21), the son of Penda, pursued him as far as Ashdown. Cuthred, the son of Cwichelm, and King Kenbert, died in one year. Into the Isle of Wight [Map] also Wulfere (age 21), the son of Penda, penetrated, and transferred the inhabitants to Ethelwald, king of the South-Saxons, because Wulfere adopted him in baptism. And Eoppa, a mass-priest, by command of Wilfrid and King Wulfere, was the first of men who brought baptism to the people of the Isle of Wight [Map].

In or before 838 [his father] King Æthelwulf of Wessex and [his mother] Osburgh Queen Consort Wessex were married. She by marriage Queen Consort Wessex. He the son of Egbert King Wessex (age 64).

In 839 [his grandfather] Egbert King Wessex (age 66) died. His son [his father] King Æthelwulf of Wessex succeeded King Wessex.

Battle of Ockley

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 851. This year Alderman Ceorl, with the men of Devonshire, fought the heathen army at Wemburg [Map], and after making great slaughter obtained the victory. The same year [his brother] King Athelstan and Alderman Elchere fought in their ships, and slew a large army at Sandwich [Map] in Kent, taking nine ships and dispersing the rest. The heathens now for the first time remained over winter in the Isle of Thanet [Map]. The same year came three hundred and fifty ships into the mouth of the Thames; the crew of which went upon land, and stormed Canterbury, Kent [Map] and London; putting to flight Bertulf, king of the Mercians, with his army; and then marched southward over the Thames into Surrey. Here [his father] Ethelwulf and his son Ethelbald, at the head of the West-Saxon army, fought with them at Ockley [Map], and made the greatest slaughter of the heathen army that we have ever heard reported to this present day. There also they obtained the victory.

Assers Life of Alfred 851. 851. 5. Battle of Aclea.14 Having done these things there, the aforesaid heathen host went into Surrey, which is a shire situated on the south shore of the river Thames, and to the west of Kent. And [his father] Æthelwulf, King of the Saxons, and his son Æthelbald, with the whole army, fought a long time against them at a place called Aclea15, that is, 'Oak-plain'; there, after a lengthy battle, which was fought with much bravery on both sides, the most part of the heathen horde was utterly destroyed and slain, so that we never heard of their being so smitten, either before or since, in any region, in one day16; and the Christians gained an honorable victory, and kept possession of the battle-field.

Note 14. Based upon the Chronicle.

Note 15. Stevenson is inclined to reject this customary identification with Oakley, in Surrey.

Note 16. The source - the Chronicle - says: 'And there made the greatest slaughter among the heathen army that we have heard reported to the present day.'

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 854. This year the heathen men34 for the first time remained over winter in the Isle of Shepey [Map]. The same year [his father] King Ethelwulf registered a TENTH of his land over all his kingdom for the honour of God and for his own everlasting salvation. The same year also he went to Rome with great pomp, and was resident there a twelvemonth. Then he returned homeward; and [his future father-in-law] Charles, king of the Franks (age 30), gave him his daughter, whose name was [his future wife] Judith (age 10), to be his queen. After this he came to his people, and they were fain to receive him; but about two years after his residence among the Franks he died; and his body lies at Winchester. He reigned eighteen years and a half. And Ethelwulf was the son of Egbert, Egbert of Ealhmund, Ealhmund of Eafa, Eafa of Eoppa, Eoppa of Ingild; Ingild was the brother of Ina, king of the West-Saxons, who held that kingdom thirty-seven winters, and afterwards went to St. Peter, where he died. And they were the sons of Cenred, Cenred of Ceolwald, Ceolwald of Cutha, Cutha of Cuthwin, Cuthwin of Ceawlin, Ceawlin of Cynric, Cynric of Creoda, Creoda of Cerdic, Cerdic of Elesa, Elesa of Esla, Esla of Gewis, Gewis of Wig, Wig of Freawine, Freawine of Frithugar, Frithugar of Brond, Brond of Balday, Balday of Woden, Woden of Frithuwald, Frithuwald of Freawine, Freawine of Frithuwualf, Frithuwulf of Finn, Finn of Godwulf, Godwulf of Great, Great of Taetwa, Taetwa of Beaw, Beaw of Sceldwa, Sceldwa of Heremod, Heremod of Itermon, Itermon of Hathra, Hathra of Hwala, Hwala of Bedwig, Bedwig of Sceaf; that is, the son of Noah, who was born in Noah's ark: Laznech, Methusalem, Enoh, Jared, Malalahel, Cainion, Enos, Seth, Adam the first man, and our Father, that is, Christ. Amen. Then two sons of Ethelwulf succeeded to the kingdom; Ethelbald to Wessex, and [his brother] Ethelbert to Kent, Essex, Surrey, and Sussex. Ethelbald reigned five years. [his brother] Alfred (age 5), his third son, Ethelwulf had sent to Rome; and when the pope heard say that he was dead, he consecrated Alfred (age 5) king, and held him under spiritual hands, as his father Ethelwulf had desired, and for which purpose he had sent him thither.

Note 34. i.e. the Danes; or, as they are sometimes called, Northmen, which is a general term including all those numerous tribes that issued at different times from the north of Europe, whether Danes, Norwegians, Sweons, Jutes, or Goths, etc.; who were all in a state of paganism at this time.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 855. Collation. And on his return homewards he took to (wife) the daughter of Charles, king of the French (age 31), whose name was [his future wife] Judith (age 11), and he came home safe. And then in about two years he died, and his body lies at Winchester: and he reigned eighteen years and a half, and he was the son of Egbert. And then his two sons succeeded to the kingdom; Ethelbald to the kingdom of the West-Saxons, and [his brother] Ethelbert to the kingdom of the Kentish-men, and of the East-Saxons, and of Surrey, and of the South-Saxons. And he reigned five years.

Assers Life of Alfred 855. 855. 12. Rebellion of Æthelbald.29 In the meantime, however, whilst [his father] King Æthelwulf was residing this short time beyond sea, a base deed was done in the western part of Selwood30, repugnant to the morals of all Christians. For King Æthelbald, Ealhstan, Bishop of the church of Sherborne, and Eanwulf, Ealdorman of Somerset, are said to have formed a conspiracy to the end that King Æthelwulf, on his return from Rome, should not again be received in his kingdom. This unfortunate occurrence, unheard-of in all previous ages, is ascribed by many to the bishop and ealdorman alone, since, say they, it resulted from their counsels. Many also ascribe it solely to the insolence of the king, because he was headstrong in this matter and in many other perversities, as I have heard related by certain persons, and as was proved by the result of that which followed. For on his return from Rome, Æthelwulf's son aforesaid, with all his counselors, or rather waylayers, attempted to perpetrate the crime of repulsing the king from his own kingdom; but neither did God suffer it, nor did the nobles of all Wessex consent thereto. For to prevent this irremediable danger to Wessex of a war between father and son, or rather of the whole nation waging civil war more fiercely and cruelly from day to day, as they espoused the cause of the one or the other, - by the extraordinary clemency of the father, seconded by the consent of all the nobles, the kingdom which had hitherto been undivided was parted between the two, the eastern districts being given to the father, and the western to the son. Thus where the father ought by just right to have reigned, there did his unjust and obstinate son bear rule; for the western part of Wessex is always superior to the eastern.

Note 29. Original.

Note 30. Comprising Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall.

In 856 [his father] King Æthelwulf of Wessex and [his future wife] Judith Carolingian Queen Consort Wessex (age 12) were married. She by marriage Queen Consort Wessex. She the daughter of Charles "Bald" I King West Francia (age 32) and Ermentrude Orléans Queen Consort West Francia. He the son of Egbert King Wessex.

Assers Life of Alfred 856. 856. 13. Judith's Position in Wessex.31 When [his father] Æthelwulf, therefore, returned from Rome, the whole nation, as was fitting, so rejoiced32 in the arrival of the ruler that, if he had allowed them, they would have expelled his unruly son Æthelbald, with all his counselors, from the kingdom. But he, as I have said, acting with great clemency and prudent counsel, would not act in this way, lest the kingdom should be exposed to peril. He likewise bade [his future wife] Judith (age 12), daughter of King Charles (age 32), whom he had received from her father, take her seat by his own side on the royal throne, without any dispute or enmity from his nobles even to the end of his life, though contrary to the perverse custom of that nation.33 For the nation of the West Saxons does not allow the queen to sit beside the king, nor to be called queen, but only the king's wife; which refusal, or rather reproach, the chief persons of that land say arose from a certain headstrong and malevolent queen of the nation, who did all things so contrary to her lord and to the whole people that not only did the hatred which she brought upon herself bring to pass her exclusion from the queenly throne, but also entailed the same corruption upon those who came after her, since, in consequence of the extreme malignity of that queen, all the inhabitants of the land banded themselves together by an oath never in their lives to let any king reign over them who should bid his queen take her seat on the royal throne by his side. And because, as I think, it is not known to many whence this perverse and detestable custom first arose in Wessex, contrary to the custom of all the Germanic peoples, it seems to me right to explain it a little more fully, as I have heard it from my lord Alfred the truth-teller, King of the Anglo-Saxons, who often told me about it, as he also had heard it from many men of truth who related the fact, or, I should rather say, expressly preserved the remembrance of it.

Note 31. Chiefly original.

Note 32. From the Chronicle.

Note 33. Prudentius of Troyes (in Annales Bertiniani, an. 856, ed. Waitz, p. 47), says of Bishop Hincmar: 'Eam ... reginæ nomine insignit, quod sibi suæque genti eatenus fuerat insuetum.'

Assers Life of Alfred 858. 858. 17. Æthelbald marries Judith.44 But when [his father] King Æthelwulf was dead [and buried at Winchester [Map]]45, his son Æthelbald, contrary to God's prohibition and the dignity of a Christian, contrary also to the custom of all the heathen46, ascended his father's bed, and married [his wife] Judith (age 14), daughter of Charles (age 34), King of the Franks, incurring much infamy from all who heard of it. During two years and a half of lawlessness he held after his father the government of the West Saxons.

Note 44. Original.

Note 45. From Florence of Worcester. The Annals of St. Neots have: 'and buried at Steyning' (Stemrugam).

Note 46. This last statement is incorrect.

Around 858 King Æthelbald of Wessex and Judith Carolingian Queen Consort Wessex (age 14) were married. She by marriage Queen Consort Wessex. She the daughter of Charles "Bald" I King West Francia (age 34) and Ermentrude Orléans Queen Consort West Francia. He the son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex and Osburgh Queen Consort Wessex.

Death of King Æthelwulf

On 13 Jan 858 [his father] King Æthelwulf of Wessex died. His son King Æthelbald of Wessex succeeded King Wessex.

Battle of Winchester

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 860. This year died King Ethelbald, and his body lies at Sherborn [Map]. [his brother] Ethelbert his brother then succeeded to the whole kingdom, and held it in good order and great tranquillity. In his days came a large naval force up into the country, and stormed Winchester. But Alderman Osric, with the command of Hampshire, and Alderman Ethelwulf, with the command of Berkshire, fought against the enemy, and putting them to flight, made themselves masters of the field of battle. The said Ethelbert reigned five years, and his body lies at Sherborn [Map].

Death of King Æthelbald

In 860 King Æthelbald of Wessex died. His brother [his brother] King Æthelberht of Wessex succeeded King Wessex.

Assers Life of Alfred 860. 860. 18. Æthelbert's Reign.47 In the year of our Lord's incarnation 860, which was the twelfth of King Alfred's life, [King] Æthelbald [died, and] was buried at Sherborne [Map]. His brother [his brother] Æthelbert, as was right, added Kent, Surrey, and Sussex to his realm. In his days a great army of heathen came from the sea, and attacked and laid waste the city of Winchester. As they were returning laden with booty to their ships, Osric, Ealdorman of Hampshire, with his men, and Ealdorman Æthelwulf, with the men of Berkshire, faced them bravely. Battle was then joined in the town, and the heathen were slain on every side; and finding themselves unable to resist, they took to flight like women, and the Christians held the battle-field.

Note 47. From the Chronicle under 860. As Æthelbert was already in possession of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex, it should rather be said that he added Wessex.

Around 870 [his former wife] Judith Carolingian Queen Consort Wessex (age 26) died.

Baldwin "Iron Arm" I Margrave Flanders and Judith Carolingian Queen Consort Wessex were married. She by marriage Margravine Flanders. She the daughter of Charles "Bald" I King West Francia and Ermentrude Orléans Queen Consort West Francia.

Royal Ancestors of King Æthelbald of Wessex -860

Kings Wessex: Son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex

Ancestors of King Æthelbald of Wessex -860

Great x 1 Grandfather: Ealmund King of Kent

GrandFather: Egbert King Wessex

Father: King Æthelwulf of Wessex

King Æthelbald of Wessex

GrandFather: Oslac

Mother: Osburgh Queen Consort Wessex