King of Wessex son of Egbert and father of Alfred the Great. In 851 Aethelwulf defeated a Danish army at the battle of Oakley while his eldest son Althelstan fought and beat the Danes at sea off the coast of Kent, in what is believed to be the first naval battle. A highly religious man, Athelwulf travelled to Rome with his son Alfred to see the Pope in 855.
Became king following the death of his brother Æthelbald. Like his brother and his father, Aethelbert (pictured to the right) was crowned at Kingston-upon-Thames. Shortly after his succession a Danish army landed and sacked Winchester before being defeated by the Saxons. In 865 the Viking Great Heathen Army landed in East Anglia and swept across England. He is buried at Sherborne Abbey.
Aethelred succeeded his brother Aethelbert. His reign was one long struggle with the Danes who had occupied York in 866, establishing the Viking kingdom of Yorvik. When the Danish Army moved south Wessex itself was threatened, and so together with his brother Alfred, they fought several battles with the Vikings at Reading, Ashdown and Basing. Aethelred suffered serious injuries during the next major battle at Meretun in Hampshire; he died of his wounds shortly after at Witchampton in Dorset, where he was buried.
Born at Wantage in Berkshire around 849, Alfred was well educated and is said to have visited Rome on two occasions. He had proven himself to be a strong leader in many battles, and as a wise ruler managed to secure five uneasy years of peace with the Danes, before they attacked Wessex again in 877. Alfred was forced to retreat to a small island in the Somerset Levels and it was from here that he masterminded his comeback, perhaps ‘burning the cakes‘ as a consequence. With major victories at Edington, Rochester and London, Alfred established Saxon Christian rule over first Wessex, and then on to most of England. To secure his hard won boundaries Alfred founded a permanent army and an embryonic Royal Navy. To secure his place in history, he began the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.
AETHELBALD 856 – 860
The eldest son of Aethelwulf, Æthelbald was born around 834. He was crowned at Kingston-upon-Thames in southwest London, after forcing his father to abdicate upon his return from pilgrimage to Rome. Following his father’s death in 858, he married his widowed stepmother Judith, but under pressure from the church the marriage was annulled after only a year. He is buried at Sherbourne Abbey in Dorset.
Egbert (Ecgherht) was the first monarch to establish a stable and extensive rule over all of Anglo-Saxon England. After returning from exile at the court of Charlemagne in 802, he regained his kingdom of Wessex. Following his conquest of Mercia in 827, he controlled all of England south of the Humber. After further victories in Northumberland and North Wales, he is recognised by the title Bretwalda (Anglo-Saxon, “ruler of the British”. A year before he died aged almost 70, he defeated a combined force of Danes and Cornish at Hingston Down in Cornwall. He is buried at Winchesterin Hampshire.