Aethelflaed

aethelflaed2018 is a very special year in Tamworth as it marks 1,100 years since the death of one of the most powerful and influential women in Anglo-Saxon England.

It was on June 12, 918, that Aethelflaed ‘Lady of the Mercians’ took her last breath in Tamworth – the capital of the ancient kingdom of Mercia - before being finally laid to rest in St Oswald’s Priory in Gloucester, alongside her husband Aethelred.

Daughter of King Alfred the Great, Aethelflaed is a key figure in the history and making of England. She ruled Mercia with her husband Aethelred (also known as Ethelred) and together they led the battle to defend the ancient kingdom against Viking invaders.

Alongside Aethelflaed’s brother, Edward the Elder, the couple launched a series of military campaigns in the 10thcentury which brought large parts of England under Anglo-Saxon control. At the same time, Aethelflaed and Aethelred embarked on a major programme of building and fortification, creating defensive and strategic buhrs (fortified towns) throughout Mercia, and including Tamworth, a centre of royal power, where she spent much of her time in later life.

After her husband’s death in 911, Aethelflaed became the sole ruler of Mercia and continued her campaign to further defend and expand her kingdom. She was a formidable warrior and was thought of as ‘queen’ by many of her subjects. She leaves a legacy as one of the most powerful female rulers of the time.

Aethelflaed’s part in history is of great interest to historians, scholars and academics across the world and will be explored in depth during a weekend conference to be held in Tamworth as part of the anniversary events.

The anniversary of the death of Aethelflaed (also known by the Victorian spelling of Ethelfleda) will be marked throughout the year in Tamworth with a number of major events, including the unveiling of a new six-metre statue, the creation of the town’s biggest ever piece of community art, a major commemorative church service, talks, a special guided walk, commemorative ale and an academic conference weekend drawing academics and delegates from all over the world. To learn more about the activities that are taking place this year to celebrate Aethelflaed visit: www.aethelflaed.co.uk

To learn more about the history of Aethelflaed there are several resources online including this Aethelflaed blog.