Person:Æthelbald of Wessex (1)

Æthelbald of Wessex about 0835 and 0840
d.20 Dec 0860
Facts and Events
Name Æthelbald of Wessex
Alt Name Ethelbald
Gender Male
Birth[3] bet about 0835 and 0840 House of Wessex
Marriage 858 to Judith de France
Death[1][3][6] 20 Dec 0860
Reference Number[1] Q272157?
Burial[1][3][4] Sherborne, Dorset, EnglandSherborne Abbey

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

King Æthelbald of Wessex or Ethelbald was the second of the five sons of King Æthelwulf of Wessex and Osburh.[1] He was king of Wessex from 858 to 860.

He witnessed his father's charters as a kings' son in the 840s, and in 850 he received the rank of Ealdorman. In 855 he became regent of Wessex while his father, Æthelwulf, visited Rome, his elder brother Æthelstan having died in 851 or shortly after. His younger brother Æthelbert became king of Kent.[1]

Æthelwulf returned a year later, having taken as his second wife, the Carolingian King Charles the Bald's thirteen-year-old daughter Judith. According to Alfred the Great's biographer, Asser, during Æthelwulf's absence there may have been a plot hatched to prevent the king's return either by Æthelbald, or by Ealhstan, Bishop of Sherborne and Eanwulf, Ealdorman of Somerset, or by all three. It is probable that Æthelbald was involved in such a plot because of his father's marriage to Judith.[2] The marriage to a Frankish princess who had her own royal lineage could have produced heirs more throne-worthy than Æthelbald.[1]

To avoid a civil war, Æthelwulf allowed Æthelbald to continue to rule Wessex itself (or the western part of Wessex[2]) while he took Kent and the other eastern parts of the kingdom.[3] Ann Williams dates the start of Æthelbald's reign to 855, regarding father and son as joint kings from Æthelwulf's return from Rome in 856 until his death in 858. The absence of any coins in Æthelbald's name during this period suggests the coinage continued to be in Æthelwulf's name until his death. Æthelbald then became the king of Wessex, while Æthelbert again became king of Kent.

Judith's charisma as a Carolingian princess was so great that rather than lose the prestige of the connection Æthelbald then married her, in spite of strong clerical opposition, as marriage to a widowed stepmother was considered incestuous. Little is known of his reign and only one charter survives, witnessed by king Æthelbald, king Æthelbert and Judith, suggesting that he was on good terms with his brother.[1]

Æthelbald died at Sherborne in Dorset on 20 December 860. Asser, who was hostile to Æthelbald both because of his revolt against his father and because of his uncanonical marriage, described him as "iniquitous and grasping", and his reign as "two and a half lawless years".

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Æthelbald of Wessex, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
  2.   Æthelbald, King of Wessex, in Lundy, Darryl. The Peerage: A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 ÆTHELBALD, in Cawley, Charles. Medieval Lands: A prosopography of medieval European noble and royal families.
  4. Earle, John (ed.), and Charles (ed.) Plummer. Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1892), pp.66-67.

    Both manuscript A and D have Æthelbald dying in 860 and being buried at Sherborne.

  5.   Æthelbald 13 (Male), in The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England.
  6. Allison Weir appears to be the source of "20 Dec" as the death date. It is not clear what original source this comes from.