Æthelstan (c.893 - 939) MP

Bedford, Bedford Borough, UK

Æthelstan 'the Glorious', 1st King of the English's Geni Profile

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Place of Burial: Bedford, Bedford Borough, UK
Birthplace: Wessex, England
Death: Died in England
Occupation: King of england, Roi, de Wessex, d'Angleterre, 925, King of England 924/5 - 939, King of England, King 925 - 939, Englannin Kuningas
Managed by: Richard Nicholas Ragland
Last Updated:

About Æthelstan

Æthelstan "the Glorious"

Æthelstan, King of Wessex, and first King of the English. Son of Edward 'the Elder' and his first wife Ecgwynn.

No children.

Links:

ÆTHELSTAN ([895]-Gloucester 27 Oct 939, bur Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire[1643]). Roger of Hoveden gives his parentage, specifying that he was his father's oldest son[1644]. "Æthelstan filius regis" subscribed charters of King Edward dated 901 (named in the list of subscribers after "Elfredus filius regis" and "Ethelwardus filius regis") and 909 (two, in both of which he is named second after "Æthelwerd frater regis")[1645]. He was brought up in the household of his uncle Æthelred ealdorman of Mercia[1646]. He succeeded his father in 924 as ÆTHELSTAN King of Wessex, and was independently recognised as King of the Mercians[1647]. He was crowned at Kingston-upon-Thames 4 Sep 925. William of Malmesbury records that King Æthelstan's succession was challenged by "Elfred" (who has not been idenfified, unless it refers to his half-brother who in other sources is named Ælfweard)[1648]. Sihtric King of York proposed an alliance with him in 925, sealed by his marriage to Æthelstan's sister. After the death of his brother-in-law, Æthelstan invaded York and expelled Sihtric's son and successor Olaf. The rulers of Scotland, Strathclyde and Bamburgh acknowledged Æthelstan as overlord at Eamont near Penrith 12 Jul 927. He agreed the frontier with the Welsh princes along the river Wye at a meeting in Hereford in [930], exacting a heavy tribute from them. He also agreed the frontier with the Britons of Cornwall along the river Tamar in [931], and installed a British bishop in the recently established see of St Germans. In 934, he launched an attack on Scotland, the army pressing as far as Fordun in Kincardineshire, the navy ravaging the coast up to Caithness. He helped Alain de Porhoët re-establish himself as Comte de Vannes et de Nantes in Brittany in 936. He was able to build a network of alliances with neighbouring foreign powers through the marriages of his half-sisters. He defeated a joint invasion by Olaf Guthfrithson (claimant to the kingdom of York), Constantine King of Scotland and Owen King of Strathclyde at Brunanburh in 937. In many of his charters he is described as "King of the English and ruler of all Britain"[1649]. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the death 27 Oct [940/41] of King Athelstan[1650].

-----------------------------------

(from Wikipedia)

Athelstan or Æthelstan (Old English: Æþelstan, Æðelstān) (c. 895 – 27 October 939), called the Glorious, was the King of England from 924/925 to 939. He was the son of King Edward the Elder, and nephew of Æthelflæd of Mercia. Æthelstan's success in securing the submission of Constantine II, King of Scots, at the Treaty of Eamont Bridge in 927 through to the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 led to his claiming the title "king of all Britain".[2] His reign is frequently overlooked, with much focus going to Alfred the Great before him, and Edmund after. However, his reign was of fundamental importance to political developments in the 10th century.

Sources

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which is vocal during the reigns of Alfred and Edward the Elder, falls into relative silence during Athelstan's reign, and what entries survive are retrospective. A few references tell of his military campaigns, the longest entry being a poem about the Battle of Brunanburh (937), probably composed in his successor Edmund's reign. Other narrative sources from across Europe, though, provide more information. The Annals of Flodoard contain several references to Athelstan's dealings with the rulers of west and east Francia, as does the Chronicle of Nantes. William of Malmesbury, however, writing in the early 12th century, provides the greatest detail. His work might even draw on a (now lost) Vita Æthelstani, as Michael Wood argues, but caution is called for as this case has yet to be proven and William's account can rarely be verified.

Documentary sources come in the form of charters and laws. Charters exist that tell about where Athelstan was, who was with him, and to whom he was granting land. Through these it is possible to trace his peregrinations, particularly between 927 and 932 when all diplomas were drafted by the extraordinary scribe known as 'Athelstan A'. There are several law codes attributed to Athelstan; a couple are law codes after the tradition of Alfred and Edward; the others are less 'official', but nonetheless reveal aspects of Athelstan's administration.

Non-written sources are also available. For instance, coins give Athelstan a title revealing how widespread he (or rather the minters) felt his reign extended: throughout all Britain. There are also the manuscripts and relics Athelstan collected and donated; many of the former contain notices giving the details of these donations. These particularly shed light on Athelstan's patronage of the cult of St Cuthbert's in Northumbria, to whom he gave two lavish manuscripts. One contains the earliest known surviving English ruler portrait, showing Athelstan presenting a copy of Bede's Lives of St Cuthbert in prose and versde to Cuthbert, in the Corpus Christi College manuscript 183 (illustration, below)[3]

[edit] Reign

Athelstan DCCCCXXV on the modern plinth of the Saxon Coronation Stone, Kingston upon Thames

Athelstan was the son of Edward the Elder, and grandson of Alfred the Great. His father succeeded, after some difficulty, to the Kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons formed by Alfred. His aunt, Edward's sister, Æthelflæd, ruled western Mercia on Edward's behalf following the death of her husband, Ealdorman Æthelred. On Æthelflæd's death, Edward was quick to assume control of Mercia, and at the time of his death he directly ruled all the English kingdoms south of the Humber. Athelstan was fostered by his aunt in Mercia, perhaps as a method of encouraging Mercian loyalty to the West Saxon dynasty. On Edward's death, Athelstan immediately became King of Mercia, though it seems to have taken longer for him to be recognised in Wessex where his half-brothers Ælfweard and Edwin had support.

Political alliances seem to have been high on Athelstan's agenda. Only a year after his crowning he married one of his sisters to Sihtric Cáech, the Viking King of Northumbria at Tamworth,[4] who acknowledged Æthelstan as over-king, adopting Christianity. Within the year he may have abandoned his new faith and repudiated his wife, but before Æthelstan and he could fight, Sihtric died suddenly in 927. His kinsman, perhaps brother, Gofraid, who had remained as his deputy in Dublin, came from Ireland to take power in York, but failed. Æthelstan moved quickly, seizing much of Northumbria. This bold move brought the whole of England under one ruler for the first time, although this unity did not become permanent until 954. In less than a decade, the kingdom of the English had become by far the greatest power in the British Isles, perhaps stretching as far north as the Firth of Forth.[5]

Coin of Æthelstan.

Initially the other rulers in Great Britain seem to have submitted to Athelstan at Bamburgh: "first Hywel, King of the West Welsh, and Constantine II, King of Scots, and Owain, King of the people of Gwent, and Ealdred...of Bamburgh" records the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. William of Malmesbury adds that Owain of Strathclyde was also present.[6]

Similar events are recorded along the western marches of Athelstan's domain. According to William of Malmesbury, Athelstan had the kings of the North British (meaning the Welsh) submit to him at Hereford, where he exacted a heavy tribute from them. The reality of his influence in Wales is underlined by the Welsh poem Armes Prydein Fawr, and by the appearance of the Welsh kings as subreguli in the charters of 'Αthelstan A'. Similarly, he drove the West Welsh (meaning the Cornish) out of Exeter, and established the border of Cornwall along the River Tamar.

John of Worcester's chronicle suggests that Æthelstan faced opposition from Constantine, from Owain of Strathclyde, and from the Welsh kings. William of Malmesbury writes that Gofraid, together with Sihtric's young son Olaf Cuaran fled north and received refuge from Constantine, which led to war with Æthelstan. A meeting at Eamont Bridge on 12 July 927 was sealed by an agreement that Constantine, Eógan of Strathclyde, Hywel Dda, and Ealdred would "renounce all idolatry": that is, they would not ally with the Viking kings. William states that Æthelstan stood godfather to a son of Constantine, probably Indulf (Ildulb mac Constantín), during the conference.[7]

Æthelstan followed up his advances in the north by securing the recognition of the Welsh kings.[8] For the next seven years, the record of events in the north is blank. Æthelstan's court was attended by the Welsh kings, but not by Constantine or Eógan of Strathclyde. This absence of record means that Æthelstan's reasons for marching north against Constantine in 934 are unclear.[9]

Æthelstan's campaign is reported in brief by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and later chroniclers such as John of Worcester, William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, and Symeon of Durham add detail to that bald account. Æthelstan's army began gathering at Winchester by 28 May 927, and reached Nottingham by 7 June. He was accompanied by many leaders, including the Welsh kings Hywel Dda, Idwal Foel, and Morgan ab Owain. From Mercia the army went north, stopping at Chester-le-Street, before resuming the march accompanied by a fleet of ships. Eógan of Strathclyde was defeated and Symeon states that the army went as far north as Dunnottar and Fortriu, while the fleet is said to have raided Caithness, by which a much larger area, including Sutherland, is probably intended. It is unlikely that Constantine's personal authority extended so far north, and while the attacks may have been directed at his allies, they may also have been simple looting expeditions.[10]

The Annals of Clonmacnoise state that "the Scottish men compelled [Æthelstan] to return without any great victory", while Henry of Huntingdon claims that the English faced no opposition. A negotiated settlement may have ended matters: according to John of Worcester, a son of Constantine was given as a hostage to Æthelstan and Constantín himself accompanied the English king on his return south.[4] He witnessed a charter with Æthelstan at Buckingham on 13 September 934 in which he is described as subregulus, that is a king acknowledging Æthelstan's overlordship.[11] The following year, Constantine was again in England at Æthelstan's court, this time at Cirencester where he appears as a witness, appearing as the first of several subject kings, followed by Eógan of Strathclyde and Hywel Dda, who subscribed to the diploma.[12] At Christmas of 935, Eógan of Strathclyde was once more at Æthelstan's court along with the Welsh kings, but Constantine was not. His return to England less than two years later would be in very different circumstances.[13]

[edit] Brunanburh and after

Athelstan presenting a book to St Cuthbert (934), chief saint of the English far north, the earliest surviving royal; Anglo-Saxon portrait (Corpus Christi MS 183, fol. 1v)

Following Constantine's disappearance from Æthelstan's court after 935, there is no further report of him until 937. In that year, together with Eógan of Strathclyde and Olaf Guthfrithson, King of Dublin, Constantine invaded England. The resulting battle of Brunanburh—Dún Brunde—is reported in the Annals of Ulster as follows:

   a great battle, lamentable and terrible was cruelly fought...in which fell uncounted thousands of the Northmen. ... And on the other side, a multitude of Saxons fell; but Æthelstan, the king of the Saxons, obtained a great victory.[14]

The battle was remembered in England a generation later as "the Great Battle". When reporting the battle, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle abandons its usual terse style in favour of a heroic poem vaunting the great victory. In this the "hoary" Constantine, by now around 60 years of age, is said to have lost a son in the battle, a claim which the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba confirms. The Annals of Clonmacnoise give his name as Cellach. For all its fame, the site of the battle is uncertain and several sites have been advanced, with Bromborough on the Wirral the most favoured location.[15]

Brunanburh, for all that it had been a famous and bloody battle, settled nothing. On 27 October 939 Æthelstan, "pillar of the dignity of the western world" in the words of the Annals of Ulster, died at Malmesbury. He was succeeded by his brother Edmund the Elder, then aged 18. Æthelstan's empire, seemingly made safe by the victory of Brunanburh, collapsed in little more than a year from his death when Amlaíb returned from Ireland and seized Northumbria and the Mercian Danelaw. Edmund spent the remainder of Constantín's reign rebuilding the empire.[16]

Athelstan is generally regarded as the first king of England and his reign is seen as the first time that kingdoms of England, Wales and Scotland were united under one ruler as "King of all Britain".[2] He achieved considerable military successes over his rivals, including the Vikings, and extended his rule to parts of Wales and Cornwall.

[edit] Administration and law

As Athelstan's kingdom grew it posed new challenges in administration. Towards the end of his reign we hear of another Athelstan, termed 'half-king', who was Ealdorman for much of eastern Mercia and East Anglia. Ian Walker has argued that, as the extent of Athelstan's power grew, the extent of rule of the next level of the aristocracy had to grow too. This points towards an increasing stratification of English society, a development that can (possibly) be traced from earliest Anglo-Saxon times right up to the Norman Conquest and beyond.

A relatively large number of law codes have come down to us from Athelstan's reign. To examine each in detail would take too much space here, but two viewpoints summarise the arguments around them. Patrick Wormald, who has argued that written law had little practical use in Anglo-Saxon England, states that there is little homogeneity to the laws, and that the sporadic nature of them indicate little sign of a coherent system based on written law. Simon Keynes has instead argued that there is a pattern to the laws of Athelstan's reign, and that the laws are evidence 'not of any casual attitude towards the publication or recording of the law, but quite the reverse'.

[edit] Athelstan and the Welsh

Detail of Athelstan from a stained-glass window at the chapel of All Souls College, Oxford

Athelstan's reign marks a hiatus in sporadic unrest between the English and Welsh kingdoms. According to Asser, a monk from St David's, Dyfed, several kingdoms of Wales submitted (including eventually those ruled by the sons of Rhodri Mawr) to Alfred. No battles between the English and the Welsh are recorded during Athelstan's reign, but charters show Welsh kings attending his court, possibly coming with him on campaign. D.P. Kirby argued that Athelstan was repressing the Welsh kings, keeping them close in order to maintain their loyalty. Yet it is also possible that some Welsh kings, in particular Hywel Dda, were benefiting from this relationship. Hywel may have been influenced by English ideas of kingship - he is the first Welsh king associated with a major Welsh law code, and a coin, minted at Chester, carries his name.

[edit] Foreign contacts

Like those of his predecessors, Athelstan's court was in contact with the rest of Europe. His half-sisters married into European noble families. Ædgyth was married to future Holy Roman Emperor Otto, son of Henry I of Saxony, Alan II, Duke of Brittany and Haakon, son of Harald of Norway, were both fostered in Æthelstan’s court, and he provided a home for Louis, the exiled son of Charles the Simple.

Athelstan might have considered his rule in some way imperial: the style basileus is found in his charters, whilst he is the first king to bear the title r[ex] tot[ius] B[ritanniae]. According to William of Malmesbury, relics such as the Sword of Constantine (Emperor of Rome) and the Lance of Charlemagne (first Holy Roman Emperor) came to Athelstan, suggesting that he was in some way being associated with past great rulers.

Although he established many alliances through his family, he had no children of his own.

Athelstan was religious and gave generously to the church in Wessex, and when he died in 939 at Gloucester he was buried at his favourite abbey (Malmesbury) rather than with his family at Winchester. Though his tomb is still there, his body was lost centuries later. There is nothing in the tomb beneath the statue, the relics of the king having been lost in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 by King Henry VIII. The remains may have been destroyed by the King's Commissioners or hidden before the Commissioners arrived to close down the Abbey. In Malmesbury, his name lives on into the 20th and 21st centuries, with everything from a bus company and a second-hand shop to several roads and streets, as well as the Care Home opened in 2008, named after him. His patronage of the abbey, and his gift of freemen status to the town also lives on with the Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury.

He was succeeded by his younger half-brother, King Edmund I of England.

--------------------

Athelstan or Æthelstan (Old English: Æþelstan, Æðelstān) (c. 895 – 27 October 939), called the Glorious, was the King of England from 924/925 to 939. He was the son of King Edward the Elder, and nephew of Æthelflæd of Mercia. Æthelstan's success in securing the submission of Constantine II, King of Scots, at the Treaty of Eamont Bridge in 927 through to the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 led to his claiming the title "king of all Britain".[2] His reign is frequently overlooked, with much focus going to Alfred the Great before him, and Edmund after. However, his reign was of fundamental importance to political developments in the 10th century.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athelstan_of_England

Sources

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which is vocal during the reigns of Alfred and Edward the Elder, falls into relative silence during Athelstan's reign, and what entries survive are retrospective. A few references tell of his military campaigns, the longest entry being a poem about the Battle of Brunanburh (937), probably composed in his successor Edmund's reign. Other narrative sources from across Europe, though, provide more information. The Annals of Flodoard contain several[weasel words] references to Athelstan's dealings with the rulers of west and east Francia, as does the Chronicle of Nantes. William of Malmesbury, however, writing in the early 12th century, provides the greatest detail. His work might even draw on a (now lost) Vita Æthelstani, as Michael Wood argues, but caution is called for as this case has yet to be proven and William's account can rarely be verified.

Documentary sources come in the form of charters and laws. Numerous[weasel words] charters exist that tell about where Athelstan was, who was with him, and to whom he was granting land. Through these it is possible to trace his peregrinations, particularly between 927 and 932 when all diplomas were drafted by the extraordinary scribe known as 'Athelstan A'. There are several[weasel words] law codes attributed to Athelstan; a couple are law codes after the tradition of Alfred and Edward; the others are less 'official', but nonetheless reveal aspects of Athelstan's administration.

Non-written sources are also available. For instance, coins give Athelstan a title revealing how widespread he (or rather the minters) felt his reign extended: throughout all Britain. There are also the manuscripts and relics Athelstan collected and donated; many of the former contain notices giving the details of these donations. These particularly shed light on Athelstan's patronage of the cult of St Cuthbert's in Northumbria, to whom he gave two lavish manuscripts. One contains the earliest known surviving English ruler portrait, showing Athelstan presenting a copy of Bede's Lives of St Cuthbert in prose and versde to Cuthbert, in the Corpus Christi College manuscript 183 (illustration, below)[3]

Reign

Athelstan was the son of Edward the Elder, and grandson of Alfred the Great. His father succeeded, after some difficulty, to the Kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons formed by Alfred. His aunt, Edward's sister, Æthelflæd, ruled western Mercia on Edward's behalf following the death of her husband, Ealdorman Æthelred. On Æthelflæd's death, Edward was quick to assume control of Mercia, and at the time of his death he directly ruled all the English kingdoms south of the Humber. Athelstan was fostered by his aunt in Mercia, perhaps as a method of encouraging Mercian loyalty to the West Saxon dynasty. On Edward's death, Athelstan immediately became King of Mercia, though it seems to have taken longer for him to be recognised in Wessex where his half-brothers Ælfweard and Edwin had support.

Political alliances seem to have been high on Athelstan's agenda. Only a year after his crowning he married one of his sisters to Sihtric Cáech, the Viking King of Northumbria at Tamworth,[4] who acknowledged Æthelstan as over-king, adopting Christianity. Within the year he may have abandoned his new faith and repudiated his wife, but before Æthelstan and he could fight, Sihtric died suddenly in 927. His kinsman, perhaps brother, Gofraid, who had remained as his deputy in Dublin, came from Ireland to take power in York, but failed. Æthelstan moved quickly, seizing much of Northumbria. This bold move brought the whole of England under one ruler for the first time, although this unity did not become permanent until 954. In less than a decade, the kingdom of the English had become by far the greatest power in the British Isles, perhaps stretching as far north as the Firth of Forth.[5]

Coin of Æthelstan.

Initially the other rulers in Great Britain seem to have submitted to Athelstan at Bamburgh: "first Hywel, King of the West Welsh, and Constantine II, King of Scots, and Owain, King of the people of Gwent, and Ealdred...of Bamburgh" records the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. William of Malmesbury adds that Owain of Strathclyde was also present.[6]

Similar events are recorded along the western marches of Athelstan's domain. According to William of Malmesbury, Athelstan had the kings of the North British (meaning the Welsh) submit to him at Hereford, where he exacted a heavy tribute from them. The reality of his influence in Wales is underlined by the Welsh poem Armes Prydein Fawr, and by the appearance of the Welsh kings as subreguli in the charters of 'Αthelstan A'. Similarly, he drove the West Welsh (meaning the Cornish) out of Exeter, and established the border of Cornwall along the River Tamar.

John of Worcester's chronicle suggests that Æthelstan faced opposition from Constantine, from Owain of Strathclyde, and from the Welsh kings. William of Malmesbury writes that Gofraid, together with Sihtric's young son Olaf Cuaran fled north and received refuge from Constantine, which led to war with Æthelstan. A meeting at Eamont Bridge on 12 July 927 was sealed by an agreement that Constantine, Eógan of Strathclyde, Hywel Dda, and Ealdred would "renounce all idolatry": that is, they would not ally with the Viking kings. William states that Æthelstan stood godfather to a son of Constantine, probably Indulf (Ildulb mac Constantín), during the conference.[7]

Æthelstan followed up his advances in the north by securing the recognition of the Welsh kings.[8] For the next seven years, the record of events in the north is blank. Æthelstan's court was attended by the Welsh kings, but not by Constantine or Eógan of Strathclyde. This absence of record means that Æthelstan's reasons for marching north against Constantine in 934 are unclear.[9]

Æthelstan's campaign is reported in brief by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and later chroniclers such as John of Worcester, William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, and Symeon of Durham add detail to that bald account. Æthelstan's army began gathering at Winchester by 28 May 927, and reached Nottingham by 7 June. He was accompanied by many leaders, including the Welsh kings Hywel Dda, Idwal Foel, and Morgan ab Owain. From Mercia the army went north, stopping at Chester-le-Street, before resuming the march accompanied by a fleet of ships. Eógan of Strathclyde was defeated and Symeon states that the army went as far north as Dunnottar and Fortriu, while the fleet is said to have raided Caithness, by which a much larger area, including Sutherland, is probably intended. It is unlikely that Constantine's personal authority extended so far north, and while the attacks may have been directed at his allies, they may also have been simple looting expeditions.[10]

The Annals of Clonmacnoise state that "the Scottish men compelled [Æthelstan] to return without any great victory", while Henry of Huntingdon claims that the English faced no opposition. A negotiated settlement may have ended matters: according to John of Worcester, a son of Constantine was given as a hostage to Æthelstan and Constantín himself accompanied the English king on his return south.[4] He witnessed a charter with Æthelstan at Buckingham on 13 September 934 in which he is described as subregulus, that is a king acknowledging Æthelstan's overlordship.[11] The following year, Constantine was again in England at Æthelstan's court, this time at Cirencester where he appears as a witness, appearing as the first of several subject kings, followed by Eógan of Strathclyde and Hywel Dda, who subscribed to the diploma.[12] At Christmas of 935, Eógan of Strathclyde was once more at Æthelstan's court along with the Welsh kings, but Constantine was not. His return to England less than two years later would be in very different circumstances.[13]

Brunanburh and after

Following Constantine's disappearance from Æthelstan's court after 935, there is no further report of him until 937. In that year, together with Eógan of Strathclyde and Olaf Guthfrithson, King of Dublin, Constantine invaded England. The resulting battle of Brunanburh—Dún Brunde—is reported in the Annals of Ulster as follows:

   a great battle, lamentable and terrible was cruelly fought...in which fell uncounted thousands of the Northmen. ... And on the other side, a multitude of Saxons fell; but Æthelstan, the king of the Saxons, obtained a great victory.[14]

The battle was remembered in England a generation later as "the Great Battle". When reporting the battle, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle abandons its usual terse style in favour of a heroic poem vaunting the great victory. In this the "hoary" Constantine, by now around 60 years of age, is said to have lost a son in the battle, a claim which the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba confirms. The Annals of Clonmacnoise give his name as Cellach. For all its fame, the site of the battle is uncertain and several sites have been advanced, with Bromborough on the Wirral the most favoured location.[15]

Brunanburh, for all that it had been a famous and bloody battle, settled nothing. On 27 October 939 Æthelstan, "pillar of the dignity of the western world" in the words of the Annals of Ulster, died at Malmesbury. He was succeeded by his brother Edmund the Elder, then aged 18. Æthelstan's empire, seemingly made safe by the victory of Brunanburh, collapsed in little more than a year from his death when Amlaíb returned from Ireland and seized Northumbria and the Mercian Danelaw. Edmund spent the remainder of Constantín's reign rebuilding the empire.[16]

Athelstan is generally regarded as the first king of England and his reign is seen as the first time that kingdoms of England, Wales and Scotland were united under one ruler as "King of all Britain".[2] He achieved considerable military successes over his rivals, including the Vikings, and extended his rule to parts of Wales and Cornwall.

Administration and law

As Athelstan's kingdom grew it posed new challenges in administration. Towards the end of his reign we hear of another Athelstan, termed 'half-king', who was Ealdorman for much of eastern Mercia and East Anglia. Ian Walker has argued that, as the extent of Athelstan's power grew, the extent of rule of the next level of the aristocracy had to grow too. This points towards an increasing stratification of English society, a development that can (possibly) be traced from earliest Anglo-Saxon times right up to the Norman Conquest and beyond.

A relatively large number of law codes have come down to us from Athelstan's reign. To examine each in detail would take too much space here, but two viewpoints summarise the arguments around them. Patrick Wormald, who has argued that written law had little practical use in Anglo-Saxon England, states that there is little homogeneity to the laws, and that the sporadic nature of them indicate little sign of a coherent system based on written law. Simon Keynes has instead argued that there is a pattern to the laws of Athelstan's reign, and that the laws are evidence 'not of any casual attitude towards the publication or recording of the law, but quite the reverse'.

Athelstan and the Welsh

Athelstan's reign marks a hiatus in sporadic unrest between the English and Welsh kingdoms. According to Asser, a monk from St David's, Dyfed, several kingdoms of Wales submitted (including eventually those ruled by the sons of Rhodri Mawr) to Alfred. No battles between the English and the Welsh are recorded during Athelstan's reign, but charters show Welsh kings attending his court, possibly coming with him on campaign. D.P. Kirby argued that Athelstan was repressing the Welsh kings, keeping them close in order to maintain their loyalty. Yet it is also possible that some Welsh kings, in particular Hywel Dda, were benefiting from this relationship. Hywel may have been influenced by English ideas of kingship - he is the first Welsh king associated with a major Welsh law code, and a coin, minted at Chester, carries his name.

[edit] Foreign contacts

Like those of his predecessors, Athelstan's court was in contact with the rest of Europe. His half-sisters married into European noble families. Ædgyth was married to future Holy Roman Emperor Otto, son of Henry I of Saxony, Alan II, Duke of Brittany and Haakon, son of Harald of Norway, were both fostered in Æthelstan’s court, and he provided a home for Louis, the exiled son of Charles the Simple.

Athelstan might have considered his rule in some way imperial: the style basileus is found in his charters, whilst he is the first king to bear the title r[ex] tot[ius] B[ritanniae]. According to William of Malmesbury, relics such as the Sword of Constantine (Emperor of Rome) and the Lance of Charlemagne (first Holy Roman Emperor) came to Athelstan, suggesting that he was in some way being associated with past great rulers.

Although he established many alliances through his family, he had no children of his own.

Athelstan was religious and gave generously to the church in Wessex, and when he died in 939 at Gloucester he was buried at his favourite abbey (Malmesbury) rather than with his family at Winchester. Though his tomb is still there, his body was lost centuries later. There is nothing in the tomb beneath the statue, the relics of the king having been lost in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 by King Henry VIII. The remains may have been destroyed by the King's Commissioners or hidden before the Commissioners arrived to close down the Abbey. In Malmesbury, his name lives on into the 20th and 21st centuries, with everything from a bus company and a second-hand shop to several roads and streets, as well as the Care Home opened in 2008, named after him. His patronage of the abbey, and his gift of freemen status to the town also lives on with the Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury.

He was succeeded by his younger half-brother, King Edmund I of England.

--------------------

Æthelstan, King of England (1)

M, #102441, b. circa 895, d. 27 October 939

Last Edited=4 Dec 2005

    Æthelstan, King of England was born circa 895. (1) He was the son of Eadweard I, King of Wessex and Ecgwyn (?). (2) 

He died on 27 October 939 at Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England, unmarried. (1) He was buried at Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England. (1)

    Æthelstan, King of England succeeded to the title of King Æthelstan of England on 17 July 924. (1) He was crowned King of England on 4 September 924 at Kingston-upon-Thames, London, England. (1) 
    He spent his youth in Mercia and beat the Northumbrians and following the Battle of Brunanburh in 937, the kings of Scotland and Strathclyde swore allegiance to him. Athelstan was acknowledged by the Welsh princes and at a meeting at Hereford they agreed to pay taxes to him in the form of gold, silver, hawks, hounds and oxen. He founded the see of St Germans in Cornwall. Athelstan made laws, particularly to control the widespread thieving that was then prevalent. Athelstan had a good physique and golden hair, he was compassionate, intelligent and christian-like and was the first English Monarch who effectively ruled the whole Kingdom. He has an extensive biographical entry in the Dictionary of National Biography. (3)

Forrás / Source:

http://www.thepeerage.com/p10245.htm#i102441

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athelstan_of_England

Athelstan or Æthelstan (Old English: Æþelstan, Æðelstān) (c. 895 – 27 October 939), called the Glorious, was the King of England from 924 or 925 to 939. He was the son of King Edward the Elder, and nephew of Æthelflæd of Mercia. Æthelstan's success in securing the submission of Constantine II, King of Scots, at the Treaty of Eamont Bridge in 927 through to the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 led to his claiming the title "king of all Britain". His reign is frequently overlooked, with much focus going to Alfred the Great before him, and Edmund after. However, his reign was of fundamental importance to political developments in the 10th century.

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Athelstan or Æthelstan (Old English: Æþelstan, Æðelstān) (c. 895 – 27 October 939), called the Glorious, was the King of England from 924/925 to 939. He was the son of King Edward the Elder, and nephew of Æthelflæd of Mercia. Æthelstan's success in securing the submission of Constantine II, King of Scots, at the Treaty of Eamont Bridge in 927 through to the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 led to his claiming the title "king of all Britain".[2] His reign is frequently overlooked, with much focus going to Alfred the Great before him, and Edmund after. However, his reign was of fundamental importance to political developments in the 10th century.

Sources

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which is vocal during the reigns of Alfred and Edward the Elder, falls into relative silence during Athelstan's reign, and what entries survive are retrospective. A few references tell of his military campaigns, the longest entry being a poem about the Battle of Brunanburh (937), probably composed in his successor Edmund's reign. Other narrative sources from across Europe, though, provide more information. The Annals of Flodoard contain several references to Athelstan's dealings with the rulers of west and east Francia, as does the Chronicle of Nantes. William of Malmesbury, however, writing in the early 12th century, provides the greatest detail. His work might even draw on a (now lost) Vita Æthelstani, as Michael Wood argues, but caution is called for as this case has yet to be proven and William's account can rarely be verified.

Documentary sources come in the form of charters and laws. Charters exist that tell about where Athelstan was, who was with him, and to whom he was granting land. Through these it is possible to trace his peregrinations, particularly between 927 and 932 when all diplomas were drafted by the extraordinary scribe known as 'Athelstan A'. There are several law codes attributed to Athelstan; a couple are law codes after the tradition of Alfred and Edward; the others are less 'official', but nonetheless reveal aspects of Athelstan's administration.

Non-written sources are also available. For instance, coins give Athelstan a title revealing how widespread he (or rather the minters) felt his reign extended: throughout all Britain. There are also the manuscripts and relics Athelstan collected and donated; many of the former contain notices giving the details of these donations. These particularly shed light on Athelstan's patronage of the cult of St Cuthbert's in Northumbria, to whom he gave two lavish manuscripts. One contains the earliest known surviving English ruler portrait, showing Athelstan presenting a copy of Bede's Lives of St Cuthbert in prose and versde to Cuthbert, in the Corpus Christi College manuscript 183.

Reign

Athelstan was the son of Edward the Elder, and grandson of Alfred the Great. His father succeeded, after some difficulty, to the Kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons formed by Alfred. His aunt, Edward's sister, Æthelflæd, ruled western Mercia on Edward's behalf following the death of her husband, Ealdorman Æthelred. On Æthelflæd's death, Edward was quick to assume control of Mercia, and at the time of his death he directly ruled all the English kingdoms south of the Humber. Athelstan was fostered by his aunt in Mercia, perhaps as a method of encouraging Mercian loyalty to the West Saxon dynasty. On Edward's death, Athelstan immediately became King of Mercia, though it seems to have taken longer for him to be recognised in Wessex where his half-brothers Ælfweard and Edwin had support.

Political alliances seem to have been high on Athelstan's agenda. Only a year after his crowning he married one of his sisters to Sihtric Cáech, the Viking King of Northumbria at Tamworth,[4] who acknowledged Æthelstan as over-king, adopting Christianity. Within the year he may have abandoned his new faith and repudiated his wife, but before Æthelstan and he could fight, Sihtric died suddenly in 927. His kinsman, perhaps brother, Gofraid, who had remained as his deputy in Dublin, came from Ireland to take power in York, but failed. Æthelstan moved quickly, seizing much of Northumbria. This bold move brought the whole of England under one ruler for the first time, although this unity did not become permanent until 954. In less than a decade, the kingdom of the English had become by far the greatest power in the British Isles, perhaps stretching as far north as the Firth of Forth.

Initially the other rulers in Great Britain seem to have submitted to Athelstan at Bamburgh: "first Hywel, King of the West Welsh, and Constantine II, King of Scots, and Owain, King of the people of Gwent, and Ealdred...of Bamburgh" records the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. William of Malmesbury adds that Owain of Strathclyde was also present.[6]

Similar events are recorded along the western marches of Athelstan's domain. According to William of Malmesbury, Athelstan had the kings of the North British (meaning the Welsh) submit to him at Hereford, where he exacted a heavy tribute from them. The reality of his influence in Wales is underlined by the Welsh poem Armes Prydein Fawr, and by the appearance of the Welsh kings as subreguli in the charters of 'Αthelstan A'. Similarly, he drove the West Welsh (meaning the Cornish) out of Exeter, and established the border of Cornwall along the River Tamar.

John of Worcester's chronicle suggests that Æthelstan faced opposition from Constantine, from Owain of Strathclyde, and from the Welsh kings. William of Malmesbury writes that Gofraid, together with Sihtric's young son Olaf Cuaran fled north and received refuge from Constantine, which led to war with Æthelstan. A meeting at Eamont Bridge on 12 July 927 was sealed by an agreement that Constantine, Eógan of Strathclyde, Hywel Dda, and Ealdred would "renounce all idolatry": that is, they would not ally with the Viking kings. William states that Æthelstan stood godfather to a son of Constantine, probably Indulf (Ildulb mac Constantín), during the conference.[7]

Æthelstan followed up his advances in the north by securing the recognition of the Welsh kings.[8] For the next seven years, the record of events in the north is blank. Æthelstan's court was attended by the Welsh kings, but not by Constantine or Eógan of Strathclyde. This absence of record means that Æthelstan's reasons for marching north against Constantine in 934 are unclear.[9]

Æthelstan's campaign is reported in brief by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and later chroniclers such as John of Worcester, William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, and Symeon of Durham add detail to that bald account. Æthelstan's army began gathering at Winchester by 28 May 927, and reached Nottingham by 7 June. He was accompanied by many leaders, including the Welsh kings Hywel Dda, Idwal Foel, and Morgan ab Owain. From Mercia the army went north, stopping at Chester-le-Street, before resuming the march accompanied by a fleet of ships. Eógan of Strathclyde was defeated and Symeon states that the army went as far north as Dunnottar and Fortriu, while the fleet is said to have raided Caithness, by which a much larger area, including Sutherland, is probably intended. It is unlikely that Constantine's personal authority extended so far north, and while the attacks may have been directed at his allies, they may also have been simple looting expeditions.[10]

The Annals of Clonmacnoise state that "the Scottish men compelled [Æthelstan] to return without any great victory", while Henry of Huntingdon claims that the English faced no opposition. A negotiated settlement may have ended matters: according to John of Worcester, a son of Constantine was given as a hostage to Æthelstan and Constantín himself accompanied the English king on his return south.[4] He witnessed a charter with Æthelstan at Buckingham on 13 September 934 in which he is described as subregulus, that is a king acknowledging Æthelstan's overlordship.[11] The following year, Constantine was again in England at Æthelstan's court, this time at Cirencester where he appears as a witness, appearing as the first of several subject kings, followed by Eógan of Strathclyde and Hywel Dda, who subscribed to the diploma.[12] At Christmas of 935, Eógan of Strathclyde was once more at Æthelstan's court along with the Welsh kings, but Constantine was not. His return to England less than two years later would be in very different circumstances.

Brunanburh and after

Following Constantine's disappearance from Æthelstan's court after 935, there is no further report of him until 937. In that year, together with Eógan of Strathclyde and Olaf Guthfrithson, King of Dublin, Constantine invaded England. The resulting battle of Brunanburh—Dún Brunde—is reported in the Annals of Ulster as follows:

   a great battle, lamentable and terrible was cruelly fought...in which fell uncounted thousands of the Northmen. ... And on the other side, a multitude of Saxons fell; but Æthelstan, the king of the Saxons, obtained a great victory.[14]

The battle was remembered in England a generation later as "the Great Battle". When reporting the battle, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle abandons its usual terse style in favour of a heroic poem vaunting the great victory. In this the "hoary" Constantine, by now around 60 years of age, is said to have lost a son in the battle, a claim which the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba confirms. The Annals of Clonmacnoise give his name as Cellach. For all its fame, the site of the battle is uncertain and several sites have been advanced, with Bromborough on the Wirral the most favoured location.[15]

Brunanburh, for all that it had been a famous and bloody battle, settled nothing. On 27 October 939 Æthelstan, "pillar of the dignity of the western world" in the words of the Annals of Ulster, died at Malmesbury. He was succeeded by his brother Edmund the Elder, then aged 18. Æthelstan's empire, seemingly made safe by the victory of Brunanburh, collapsed in little more than a year from his death when Amlaíb returned from Ireland and seized Northumbria and the Mercian Danelaw. Edmund spent the remainder of Constantín's reign rebuilding the empire.[16]

Athelstan is generally regarded as the first king of England and his reign is seen as the first time that kingdoms of England, Wales and Scotland were united under one ruler as "King of all Britain".[2] He achieved considerable military successes over his rivals, including the Vikings, and extended his rule to parts of Wales and Cornwall.

[edit] Administration and law

As Athelstan's kingdom grew it posed new challenges in administration. Towards the end of his reign we hear of another Athelstan, termed 'half-king', who was Ealdorman for much of eastern Mercia and East Anglia. Ian Walker has argued that, as the extent of Athelstan's power grew, the extent of rule of the next level of the aristocracy had to grow too. This points towards an increasing stratification of English society, a development that can (possibly) be traced from earliest Anglo-Saxon times right up to the Norman Conquest and beyond.

A relatively large number of law codes have come down to us from Athelstan's reign. To examine each in detail would take too much space here, but two viewpoints summarise the arguments around them. Patrick Wormald, who has argued that written law had little practical use in Anglo-Saxon England, states that there is little homogeneity to the laws, and that the sporadic nature of them indicate little sign of a coherent system based on written law. Simon Keynes has instead argued that there is a pattern to the laws of Athelstan's reign, and that the laws are evidence 'not of any casual attitude towards the publication or recording of the law, but quite the reverse'.

Athelstan and the Welsh

Athelstan's reign marks a hiatus in sporadic unrest between the English and Welsh kingdoms. According to Asser, a monk from St David's, Dyfed, several kingdoms of Wales submitted (including eventually those ruled by the sons of Rhodri Mawr) to Alfred. No battles between the English and the Welsh are recorded during Athelstan's reign, but charters show Welsh kings attending his court, possibly coming with him on campaign. D.P. Kirby argued that Athelstan was repressing the Welsh kings, keeping them close in order to maintain their loyalty. Yet it is also possible that some Welsh kings, in particular Hywel Dda, were benefiting from this relationship. Hywel may have been influenced by English ideas of kingship - he is the first Welsh king associated with a major Welsh law code, and a coin, minted at Chester, carries his name.

[edit] Foreign contacts

Like those of his predecessors, Athelstan's court was in contact with the rest of Europe. His half-sisters married into European noble families. Ædgyth was married to future Holy Roman Emperor Otto, son of Henry I of Saxony, Alan II, Duke of Brittany and Haakon, son of Harald of Norway, were both fostered in Æthelstan’s court, and he provided a home for Louis, the exiled son of Charles the Simple.

Athelstan might have considered his rule in some way imperial: the style basileus is found in his charters, whilst he is the first king to bear the title r[ex] tot[ius] B[ritanniae]. According to William of Malmesbury, relics such as the Sword of Constantine (Emperor of Rome) and the Lance of Charlemagne (first Holy Roman Emperor) came to Athelstan, suggesting that he was in some way being associated with past great rulers.

Although he established many alliances through his family, he had no children of his own.

Athelstan was religious and gave generously to the church in Wessex, and when he died in 939 at Gloucester he was buried at his favourite abbey (Malmesbury) rather than with his family at Winchester. Though his tomb is still there, his body was lost centuries later. There is nothing in the tomb beneath the statue, the relics of the king having been lost in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 by King Henry VIII. The remains may have been destroyed by the King's Commissioners or hidden before the Commissioners arrived to close down the Abbey. In Malmesbury, his name lives on into the 20th and 21st centuries, with everything from a bus company and a second-hand shop to several roads and streets, as well as the Care Home opened in 2008, named after him. His patronage of the abbey, and his gift of freemen status to the town also lives on with the Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury.

He was succeeded by his younger half-brother, King Edmund I of England. -------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athelstan_of_England

Athelstan (or Æthelstan) (Old English: Æþelstan, Æðelstān) (c. 893 / 894 – 27 October 939), called the Glorious, was the King of England from 924 or 925 to 939. He was the son of King Edward the Elder, grandson of Alfred the Great and nephew of Æthelflæd of Mercia. Æthelstan's success in securing the submission of Constantine II, King of Scots, at the Treaty of Eamont Bridge in 927 through to the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 led to his claiming the title "king of all Britain". His reign is frequently overlooked, with much focus going to Alfred the Great before him, and Edmund after. However, it was of fundamental importance to political developments in the 10th century. Athelstan was the first King of a unified England from 927 A.D.

-------------------- A prominent military, as his father, Alfred the Great. He reigned 924-939

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Æthelstan 'the Glorious', 1st King of the English's Timeline

893
893
Wessex, England
924
924
- 940
Age 31
King of England
925
925
Age 32
England
939
October 27, 939
Age 46
England
939
Age 46
Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England
940
940
Age 46
1927
December 8, 1927
Age 46
1937
February 24, 1937
Age 46
1993
August 26, 1993
Age 46
????