lady of the mercians

Æthelflæd,  England’s Founding Mother

Born around 870, in the midst of the Viking invasion of Anglo-Saxon Britain, Æthelflæd was the eldest child of King Alfred “The Great” of Wessex and his wife Ealhswith. The young Æthelflæd would have spent most of her childhood witnessing her father’s long campaigns against the Danes. Alfred eventually succeeded in forcing the Vikings out of Wessex and Mercia, and back into the kingdom of East Anglia, which would be known as The Danelaw. 

As the eldest daughter of a powerful Anglo-Saxon king, Æthelflæd would have expected to be married to another equally powerful ruler. But as the daughter of Alfred the Great, she was also destined for greatness. Æthelflæd was wed to Aethelred, King of Mercia, in around 886. She bore only one known child, a daughter called Ælfwynn. Æthelflæd and Aethelred are known to have acted jointly when they fortified the city of Worcester and issued charters. Æthelflæd and her husband became the guardians of her nephew, her brother Edward’s son, the future king Æthelstan. Young Æthelstan likely came to live in his aunt and uncle’s court in order to learn the ways of kingship and combat from their example. Aunt Æthelflæd proved an ideal teacher.

After King Alfred’s death and her brother’s succession to the throne of Wessex as King Edward the Elder, Æthelflæd’s husband fell ill and later died. Once Aethelred’s health began to decline, Æthelflæd took his place as ruler of Mercia. She became known as Myrcna hlædige, or “Lady of the Mercians.”  Though she lost some of her territory in return for her brother Edward acknowledging her as the rightful ruler of Mercia, Æthelflæd was a force to be reckoned with. She joined with her brother in an effort to expel the Vikings and take back the Danelaw. Æthelflæd and her army were responsible for the capture of the city of Derby, the first of the five boroughs of the Danelaw to fall to her forces. She later took Leicester as well. By the end of 917 the East Anglian Danes had submitted to Edward and Æthelflæd. In 918 many of the leading men around York promised to pledge their loyalty to Æthelflæd, but she died on June 12 before she could accept them. 

Queen Æthelflæd has been all but lost to modern popular history, though a statue of her was erected in Tamworth, the location of her death. She is overlooked between two kings, her father Alfred and brother Edward. Though her daughter Ælfwynn ruled Mercia after her death, she was deposed and the kingdom was taken by Edward the Elder. Æthelflæd’s legacy rests with her nephew, King Æthelstan. Æthelstan, the boy who received an education in ruling from Æthelflæd, would be the first king to rule a united England and call himself King of the English. A feat which could not have been accomplished without the unification set in motion by Æthelflæd.       

Hirst has a woman problem.

If you want to avoid spoilers, then leave!


Aslaug was not a favorite. I get that. She was not a good mother after Harbard came to the picture. She negletcted her foster kid, Siggy, was distant to her other sons and overlooked Ivar´s sadistic tendencies. HOWEVER, Ragnar left for a number of years after he became a fucking drug addict, and before that he was distant, at best.

When he dies their sons go to great lenghts to “avenge” his death:

Originally posted by saettrenoora

Aslaug´s death is all but forgiven by Sigurd and Hvtserk…


Okay, Porunn was also not a favorite. Vikings are harsh and her post partum depression obviously was something unheard. But Bjorn shuns his daughter afterwards, even though he could have arranged proper fostering and HE gets the chance of starting a new family with Torvi.

Not convinced?

Floki is a mentally and emotionally instable man, but, after the death of his daughter, he gets a chance to raise Ivar and develop a bond with him.

Helga? No, Helga is destined to be a loser, so she goes crazy, adopts an orphan GIRL, who will…well…be the end of everything for poor Helga.


I will not make a list, but go ahead and name me a single girl in this series that was shown to be born and survive? You will not find her, because she does not exist.


Kwentrith and Siggy senior were killed off because the actresses had other projects, I do understand that. However, Hirst has been writing female characters as either warriors or lapsed mothers for a long time now. Gisla was an example of politically active woman , but her development stopped the moment she became Rollo´s wife- from that moment on, she is being portrayed as either loving or nagging, but always in relation to Rollo.


I said it before, but I will say it again: the first 2 and half seasons of Vikings were incredible efficient in portraying strong women building positive relationships with one another, having agency and a sense of community. No cat fights, no bitching around, no jealousy.

But also the deaths of women are events that leave no impact in the story.

Siggy gave her life to save two of Ragnar´s sons. Her death only served one purpose: to freed Rollo. Not even Hvitserk or Ubbe were able to remind the viewers that they are only alive because of that woman´s sacrifice. Hvitserk only said “ we almost died following Aslaug on that frozen lake”

Sigurd is shown to be traumatized by being left behind in Kattegat. He goes on and on about Harbard, about Ivar´s being breastfed. He never mentions finding little Siggy corpse.

Kwentrith was killed by Judith, who knew she was pregnant and who had previously betrayed her already. We don´t get any scene of Aethelwulf lamenting her death. Magnus, her son, is sent away after being discovered that he WAS NOT RAGNAR´S- but he is still Kwentrith. I see that Aethelwulf was actually saving this child life, because he has a claim to Mercia and Ecbert would definitely kill him now, but the way the scene played was telling “ Tell them that you are Ragnar´s son”. NO MENTION OF HIS MOTHER.

Aethelstan, on the other hand, dead since season 3, is still there. His death led Ragnar to drugs , he is mentioned by Ecbert all the time, to the point of exhaustion. To be honest, Aethelstan was not even that interesting, but hey, Hirst thinks he was, so we should all agree.

The problem is, in my view, Hirst cannot write 20 episodes. He caters to the “ kick ass” male fans and he has hinted that History presses him to write “ less Saxons, more Vikings” , but even part of the male audience is getting restless. Ragnar, Aethesltan and soon Ecbert are dead. We should move on to Ivar and Alfred, but if the series wants to go forward, Hirst has to do better. The way things are now, we will not see Aethelflaed, the Lady of Mercians, daughter of Alfred, woman of great intelligence that was responsible for reclaiming a big part of England from the Viking invaders.

Princess Aethelflaed, of Mercia

Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, was born over 1100 years ago in dark-age England, an was the daughter of Alfred, the first king of England. She eventually ruled Mercia in the English Midlands from 911 until her death. She was the eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, an was born around 870 in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. The name Æthelflæd is old English an means ‘noble beauty’ ~ an it is pronounced ‘ef-el-fled’. 

After the Battle of Edington in 878 the foundation of England was born, as the Wessex-controlled western half of Mercia came under the rule of Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians, who accepted Alfred’s overlordship. In the mid-880s, Alfred sealed the strategic alliance between the surviving English kingdoms by marrying Æthelflæd to Æthelred. Æthelred and Æthelflæd fortified Worcester against vikings raids several battle. 

After her husbands health declined early in the next decade, Æthelflæd was mainly responsible for the government of the Mercian kingdom. After Æthelred died in 911, Æthelflæd then ruled Mercia as Lady of the Mercians. The accession of a female ruler in Mercia is described by historians as “one of the most unique events in early early-medieval history”. 

Alfred had built a network of fortified boroughs and in the 910s King Edward and Æthelflæd embarked on a programme of extending them. In 917 she sent an army to capture Derby, the first of the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw to fall to the English, a victory described by historians as “her greatest triumph”. 

In 918 Leicester surrendered without a fight. Shortly afterwards the Viking leaders of York offered her their loyalty, but she died on 12 June 918 before she could take advantage of the offer, and a few months later Edward completed the conquest of Mercia. Æthelflæd was succeeded by her daughter Ælfwynn.

Historians agree that Æthelflæd was a great ruler who played an important part in the conquest of the Danelaw. She was praised by Anglo-Norman chroniclers such as William of Malmesbury, who described her as “a powerful accession, the delight of the kings subjects, the dread of his enemies, a woman of enlarged soul”. Like Queen Elizabeth I, she became a wonder to historians in later ages.

English actress Millie Brady plays her the historical tv-drama ‘The Last Kingdom’

Æthelflaed, Lady of the Mercians

In Anglo-Saxon England it was very unusual for a woman to be anything more than a mother and peaceweaver at court, but when Æthelflaed, daughter of King Alfred the Great, became a ruler of Mercia, she happily took over her husband’s duties at his death. She restored a dozen towns after war, she ruled on her own and led her armies into battle against the Vikings. When she reached Leicester, the Danish army submitted to her without fighting, and chose her as their “hlaford” - their lord. She pushed the borders of the Anglo-Saxon and Mercian dynasty so that it covered more territory than ever before, and even the Northumbrians, in the Viking heartland, submitted to her power, meaning she far outshone her brother, Edward, the contemporary King of Wessex. The birth of her first and only child, a daughter called Ælfwynn, was so difficult and painful that she swore of sex in the name of religion and self-preservation. When she could, she used alliances to create peace, and even forged a rare union with Scottish forces to quash Viking strength flooding in from Ireland. To the Irish, she was the most renowned queen the Saxons had ever had, and I have to say, I agree. She was not succeeded by a male relative, but, the only succession of its kind in British history, her daughter succeeded her. According to many historians, without Æthelflaed, England may never have existed.

My Saxon Warrior Girl

Æthelflæd, the Lady of the Mercians.

She was the eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. Æthelflæd was born at the height of the Viking invasions of England. Her father married her to Æthelred, Ealdorman of Mercia and after his death in 911 she ruled Mercia, until her own death in 918. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle referred to her as the Myrcna hlæfdige, or ‘Lady of the Mercians’.

Æthelflæd is one of the characters from Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories (that I’m currently reading), and I really would love if those books were turned in a tv miniseries just to see how they would make this queen :D

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This outfit is from 911 AD

by mara sop

joannalannister  asked:

Could you please tell me about all of your favorite historical ladies who did all the things that people always say women didn't do "back then"?

Oh yes, yes I can. Sit down and buckle up because you’re in for one hell of a ride.

If there’s one thing that makes me mad as hell, it’s people misunderstanding the role of women in history. It’s an easy assumption to make that in the past “women didn’t have the power to control kingdoms” due to the confines of gender roles. But it doesn’t change the fact that that is an erroneous assumption which is harmful to our contemporary understanding of women in history.

Why am I referencing an interview about a fictional television show set in a fantasy world, you may ask? I’m not here to complain about the various problems I have with Game of Thrones as an adaptation or the fact that it’s still being touted as “feminist” television. But this interview is a prime example of how these assumptions influence us as a society and our interpretations of the past as well as the damage these confined expectations of women can have.

Obviously this isn’t going to cover every woman everywhere at every point in history, that would be impossible. Also specifically this will be about MY faves so if anyone else’s fave isn’t here, it’s just purely due to personal preference, not that they didn’t contribute to history. (Also I only chose a few of my faves because I just got out of hospital and I’m having complications, sorry) For the sake of brevity, let me state that I am specifically dealing with some women from history who achieved a great deal in their respective times by crossing the traditional boundaries imposed upon them by men. This is not to say women who achieved a great deal within traditional gender confines are not important or contribute nothing to modern understanding of women’s history. The focus of this is specifically women who may have done that which was/is seen as specifically male in its domain.

Now that is all said and done, let’s get to the best part aka the ladies.

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