Talk:Æthelstan

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Untitled[edit]

Note: Battle of Brunanburh is currently an empty page, voted for deletion. If anyone knows anything about it, now's a good time to do the article :) -- Sam

The page has been added to and appears healthy.


Children or no children?[edit]

In Policital and Military life, it is stated that Athelstan had no children of his own. However, in the next section, it is stated that "Athelstan's daughter Aelfgifa married Boleslav, King of Bohemia." So, did he have children or not?

As far as I can tell, other online sources confirm that Athenstan was unmarried, and I could find no source other than Wikipedia that he had any daughter named Aelfgifa.

It is generally accepted in the academic community that Athelstan had no legitimate children. It has even been suggested that this was dynastic policy, in order to allow his brother Edmund to succeed. Little proof for this (as of yet), though.
I'm planning to expand on this article considerably. I'll probably break it into sections:
  • Sources
  • Political Developments
  • Athelstan and the Continent
  • "rex totius Britanniae"
Comments/additions would be appreciated. Harthacanute 18:01, 21 Oct 2005 (UTC)

Athelstan certainly did not have a daughter called Aelfgifa (or Aelfgifu) - she was the son of his brother Edward and is one of the many siblings of his mentioned in Athelweard's 'Chronicon'. Also as a general comment for this page I would certainly a section on charters - under Athelstan's reign for the first time we have evidence for a royal chancery, producing a series of charters that provide perhaps our best insights into the workings of his court and his imperial asperations.

I've added a little on Athelstan's administration, and touched on his charters, though not their wider implication. Perhaps someone who knows a bit about them could add something? Harthacanute 17:21, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
I've just completed my Part II ASNaC dissertation (part of which is forthcoming as an article) on kingship ideology in Athelstan's charters, so once I've finished my finals I'd be happy to add some information. Also I might do a bit of work on the Anglo-Saxon charters page...

Meaning?[edit]

" Only a year after his crowning he had a sister to Sihtric, the viking King of York." What does this mena? Shoould it read " Only a year after his crowning he gave a sister in marriage to Sihtric, the Viking King of York"?

Another children question[edit]

I keep seeing Alwara, the mother of Leofric (famous for being the husband of Lady Godiva) listed as Athelstan's daughter. Is this correct, or just a innacuracy that's spread around? - Indy Gold 19:05, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

The king Æthelstan is not known to have had children. Of course, there are plenty of other Æthelstan's in C10th England with whom he might be confused, accidently-on-purpose, to improve a genealogy. Most obviously, there's Æthelred the Unready and Cnut's brother-in-law Æthelstan son of Thored, Ealdorman of York. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England says of Leofric: "His family were perhaps related by marriage to that of Ælfgifu of Northampton, Cnut's first wife ...". Angus McLellan (Talk) 19:41, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, that gives me some other things to look into as possibilities for her parents. I could definately see where accidental-on-purpose genealogy could have mixed up who was who online. Thanks again. :) - Indy Gold 21:04, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
I'd think that the confusion predates printing, never mind the interweb; medieval people loved improving genealogies. I've corrected my brainstorm about Ælfgifu earlier. Angus McLellan (Talk) 23:02, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

Date of crowning[edit]

It strikes me as curious that the article states Athelstan was crowned in 924, yet the following picture of the crowning stone is date DCCCCXXV, that is 925. I'm certainly no British History scholar, but it would be nice to clarify this. Perhaps the date on the stone relates to a different event? --Daxav

Athelstan became king (but apparently only in Mercia) in 924. The stone refers to his coronation as king of Wessex, after the death of his half-brother Ælfweard of Wessex. Hope this helps, Angus McLellan (Talk) 22:23, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Sources[edit]

This article has absolutely no sources: I'm putting a tag up.--Dark Green 22:47, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

This seems rather pointed. It's not as if the life of Athelstan is especially controversial. Perhaps the supposed Life of Athelstan is, but that's another story. Anyway, the article has a bibliography section which is a list of references by another name. Accordingly, I've removed the tag. Angus McLellan (Talk) 15:45, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Athelstanobv.2.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot (talk) 04:30, 12 February 2008 (UTC)


The coin pictured in this article is incorrect. It is a coin of an earlier East Anglian king of the same name. Search under Aethelstan of England, not Aethelstan of East Anglia.

Name[edit]

In several places the Old-English name of Athelstan is spelled with eth (Ð or ð, pronounced like th in "the"). It is written with Thorn (Þ or þ) in this article, however. Can anybody check which letter must be used instead of "th"?

The two letters are completely equivalent in OE (unlike in Icelandic, where one is voiced and the other not) and hence the variation.

Another bogus child[edit]

Aethelstan had no daughter married to the son an heir of Guy, Earl of Warwick. First of all, in Aethelstan's time, there was no Earldom of Warwick, or for that matter, there were no earldoms at all. Likewise, there was no secular nobleman in England named Guy. There is no individual at the time named Reynburn, which is not an Anglo-Saxon name, or any other name. Someone just out and out invented this. There is no documented woman named Leonetta (little lion, but not in Anglo-Saxon - the English did not name their daughters after lions). There is no record that Aethelstan ever married and no record that Aethelstan had any children, daughter or son. The entire story is just made up. It has no basis in fact, and has never appeared in a reliable source. Agricolae (talk) 01:52, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps you would be well served to actually READ the source material I cited. You say they are "not reliable sources". OK. Perhaps instead of deleting those refereces, it would be more intellectually honest to add a sentence to my edit; "these sources are refuted by " and then your own sources? Reynburn (or Reyburn, or Reyborn(e), I've seen several spellings) de Beauchamp, the father of Wegeat/Weyeth who was the father of Wigot/Wigod. So far, you've offered nothing other than "I said so" as proof. I would be happy to be proven wrong if you can actually point out some research? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Efeist (talkcontribs) 05:10, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

I did actually READ the Warwick work before I responded (I couldn't find an edition of Burke's that matched your citation, but the Burkes' Guides of the 19th-century are valueless for pre-Conquest material, and frequently bogus for much of the post-Conquest era as well). I looked at the specific Warwick account. It is utter nonsense - the kind of family history fantasy that flourished before people treated genealogy as a scholarly discipline. It is the kind of 'research' that the field has dismissed as valueless for over 100 years (read just about anything John Horace Round has to say about the Burkes and their ilk). To even mention it gives it undeserved credibility. The Countess of WarwickSomeone simply made it all up.
On the Wikipedia pages involving infectious diseases, we do not present the 'vapours' theories of disease, and then indicate that other sources dismiss it - it is so utterly obsolete and known to be false that it does not merit mention. In pages on mammalian embryology, we don't cite sources that say you need to put wheat in the corner of the barn, get it wet, place a dark cloth over it, and mice will spontaneously generate. Piltdown man gets mentioned only as a historical fraud, not in the article about human evolution. Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of everything anyone ever wrote about a subject. Only that which is reliable by the standards of modern scholarship. In this case, the material is obviously fabricated, it being evident from the nature of the sources, and the nature of the very information.
Again, there is no actual historical record that gives AEthelstan any child. There is no historical record of anyone named Guy in England at this time (foreign clergy, perhaps, excepted). There is no historical record of anyone named Reynburn in England at this time. There is no historical record of anyone named Leonette in England at this time. There is no historical record of anyone named de Beauchamp in England at this time. In fact, surnames were not used in England at this time. There was no such thing as an Earldom in England in AEthelstan's time. Warwick, as a geographical region, a County, had yet to be conceived of at this time. There is nothing except the existence of AEthelstan himself, in the entire account, that has any basis whatsoever in historical reality, and as such it can safely be removed without refutation. It is all so patently silly that modern scholars don't even waste time refuting it. That IS intellectually honest, which is more than can be said for the Countess of Warwick or the Burkes. Agricolae (talk) 20:26, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
I did some more digging. As it turns out, the Countess of Warwick did not make it up, someone else did, a long time earlier (see Guy of Warwick noting particularly where it says he is a figure of legend, i.e. not historical reality). It was already known to be "altogether fabulous" a century before the Countess of Warwick and the Burkes wrote their books (see http://www.archive.org/stream/romancesofsirg1800turnuoft , p. xi, where it quotes Ritson). Agricolae (talk) 21:45, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Beoferlic and AEthelstan[edit]

Can anyone help with this query? I have been asked whether the Anglo-Saxon name of Beoferlic, for the current town of Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, was still being used during the reign of King AEthelstan 895 - 939, when he visited the tomb of St John of Beverley on his way to the Battle of Brunanburh. My view, is that it is reconciled with the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles being written in Old English between the mid 5th to mid 12th Centuries, but I can find no definitive information to confirm this fact. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Beoferlic (talkcontribs) 21:27, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Briton or Britain?[edit]

In the article's introduction, it says that his success in battles lead to him claiming to be the "first King of all Britain"...but surely, Britain didn't exist back then.

Wouldn't the actual claim be something more along the lines of "first King of all the Britons", as in the ancient Briton peoples? KoopaCooper (talk) 19:15, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

If you look at Athelstan's entry in the PASE (under Office and King) you can see some of the titles used. Charter S 411 says "Æðelstanus rex totius Britannie" (king of all [the island of] Britain). Royal propaganda rather than fact, but not entirely misleading. Angus McLellan (Talk) 19:45, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

Our man here on the radio[edit]

Those who aren't devoted followers of In Our Time just missed a programme on Athelstan - linky - with Melvin Bragg talking to Sarah Foot and John Hines. Interesting stuff. Angus McLellan (Talk) 21:50, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

Name spelling[edit]

Throughout the text, the name is spelled either as Ae or AE with the two letters connected (don't know how to connect them here). One way should be used for ease of reading. Just a thought. 75.222.13.95 (talk) 09:07, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

I agree, though I am not clear which should be used. Athelstan seems to be more common when referring to him on Wikipedia, but the title of the article is Æthelstan. Also, changing it would not be simple, as it would have to be only in text, not in links, as these would not work if changed. On my computer, Alt-0198 works for Æ, but it is not exactly user friendly. Dudley Miles (talk)

Accession[edit]

A discussion of the controversy over the accession of Athelstan is appropriate, but I think we should be more balanced on AElweard. The source that claims he succeeded as king is very late - the ASC simply reports that the dead king's son died 16 days later and was buried with his father. There is no scholarly consensus that AElweard actually succeeded at all, so we need a more nuanced account. Agricolae (talk) 18:04, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

The sources available to me say that Æflweard succeeded. Ann Williams et al's Dictionary of Dark Age Britain says that Ælfweard succeeded in Wessex. The online DNB on Athelstan cites the Mercian Register, described as a set of early tenth-century annals incorporated in ASC, as saying that on Edward's death Athelstan was chosen as king by the Mercians and consecrated at Kingston upon Thames. It says that the delay in his coronation is apparently due to Ælfweard succeeding to Wessex. Edward the Elder, ed by Higham & Hill, also says that Athelstan was passed over in Wessex for Ælfweard, e.g. p. 114. The Blackwell Encylopedia of Anglo-Saxon England says that Ælfweard succeeded as king. Of course, you or another editor can amend in the light of additional sources. Dudley Miles (talk) 18:39, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
The Ælfweard of Wessex article already contains more detail on this. Agricolae (talk) 01:58, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Some of this article is based on original research, and the only reference to a dissenting view by modern historians is Ann Williams' 1979 Battle article. The sources I have cited above represent a wide range of academic historians who are unanimous in treating Ælfweard's brief succession in Wessex as fact. The Battle Conference articles do not appear to be available online, but I will get hold of the Williams article when I can. Dudley Miles (talk) 11:56, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
"That AElfweard was regal, (yet, in Simon Keynes's words, 'not quite a king') . . . " Sarah Foot, AEthelstan: the First King of England, 2011, p. 39. That doesn't sound like universal agreement to me. Agricolae (talk) 03:30, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Another one: "The succession to the throne following the death of Edward the Elder on 17 July 924 is unclear. Some documents indicate that the kingdom was divided, with Aethelstan (a son of Edward's first marriage to Ecgwynn) appointed ruler of Mercia and Aelfweard (a son by Edward's second marriage, to Aelfflaed) getting Wessex. Others, however, suggest that Aethelstan ruled the whole realm. If Aelfweard . . . ever was a monarch,. . . ." Kenneth J. Panton, Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy, 2011, p. 24 Agricolae (talk) 03:40, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
The Ann Williams quote, "Of the sons of Edward, the eldest, Athelstan, son of the first wife, Ecgwynn, succeeded him as kin, and the second, Aelfweard, the elder of his second wife's sons, died within 16 days of his father. . . . [a summary of Malmesbury's claim that Athelstan was named as heir by the testament of Edward] . . . Moreover, a tradition was preserved at Winchester that the kingship was conferred upon Aelfweard, Athelstan's brother, which led Plummer to suggest that Athelstan's destined kingdom was Mercia and that Aelfweard was intended to be the King of Wessex. . . . But in light of the efforts made in the last years by Edward to weld Wessex and Mercia into one kingdom, it seems unlikely that he contemplated such a division. it is posssible that Aelfweard may have been intended to rule as subreguli (or secundarius) with eventual right of succession to Athelstan; or indeed that after the birth of Aelfweard, Athelstan (who may have been illegitimate) was passed over." Agricolae (talk) 03:50, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

As you say, opinion is not as unanimous as I thought.

Ann Williams seems to have changed her mind, as she wrote in the 1991 Biog Dictionary of Dark Age Britain, p. 50: "Ælfweard became king of Wessex on Edward's death, but died within 16 days."
Sarah Foot in the Online DNB was not as definite as I thought on first reading, saying the delay in Athelstan's coronation was "apparently to be accounted for by Edward's realm being divided on his death, with...Ælfweard...succeeding in Wessex."
Ian Walker, Mercia and the Making of England, 2000, p. 127: "Ælfweard, the new king of Wessex, died unconsecrated at Oxford."
Sean Miller, Blackwell Encyclopedia, 1999, p. 16: "Ælfweard succeeded, but died within a month."
Simon Keynes in ditto, p. 514: "Ælfweard: recognised as king in Wessex"
Shelia Sharp in Higham & Hill eds, Edward the Elder, 2001, pp. 81-82: "Athelstan's "apparent exclusion in favour of his half brother, Ælfweard".
Maggie Bailey in ditto, p. 114: Athelstan "was passed over in favour of his brother Ælfweard in Wessex."
Alan Thacker in ditto, p. 253: Ælfweard was Edward's "designated but short-lived successor".
However, David Dumville in Wessex & England, 1992, p. 93n says that there is "insufficient evidence" for the hypothesis that Athelstan was at first only king of Mercia.

Do you think it is fair to say that most historians now think that Ælfweard was briefly king of Wessex? Dudley Miles (talk) 19:57, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

I don't know how to apportion the opinion - in the sources you and I have listed, I see three models: Thacker, Sharp and Miller seem to be suggesting that AElfweard was the sole successor (for 2 weeks), Dumville favors AEthelstan being the sole successor, and the most of the others seem to favor a partition, although Foot and Keynes seem to have a more nuanced opinion (the latter based on Foot's quote of him, which I have been unable to find in his own works). Agricolae (talk) 21:24, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
I see a majority for division. In Blackwell Keynes is unequivocal that Ælfweard became king of Wessex and Athelstan of Mercia. It is difficult to know the significance of 'not quite a king' without the context. It might have meant that he died too soon to have done anything significant. Thacker's comment was in the context of Ælfweard's burial at Winchester, and may refer to Wessex. Foot in online DNB regards division as most likely. I am not clear from your quote whether she changes her view in her biography, which I will get it in a week or two. Many historians say definitely that Wessex and Mercia were divided and only Miller seems to definitely rule it out. Dudley Miles (talk) 23:16, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
There's an old VHS copy of the 1979 Michael Wood BBC series In Search of Athelstan here on YouTube; [1] for anyone who might find it useful. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.4.57.101 (talk) 20:48, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

First king of England[edit]

In case anyone here is interested, there is a debate at Talk:List of English monarchs#Article definition ? about whether that list should begin with Æthelstan, or start earlier (it currently begins with Offa and then Egbert). Only about 3 or 4 users have participated so far, and it might be helpful to get a broader selection of opinions. Thanks. Richard75 (talk) 22:35, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

Sisters[edit]

For a detailed discussion of Athelstan's sisters and what the different chroniclers said about them, see [2]. Agricolae (talk) 21:18, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification. Some comments: 1. Earliest sources do not say she was full sister. However, Foot provides at least a partial answer. In an appendix to her biography, she accepts Michael Wood's argument that William of Malmesbury's chronicle is partly based on a lost life of Æthelstan, and the statement that Sihtric's wife was an unnamed full sister of Æthelstan is in the section thought to be based on the lost life. Foot is sceptical of chroniclers who name her. 2. I am doubtul of the argument that her being described as a virgin indicates that she was underage. It was common for medieval chroniclers to claim that saints were celibate without any evidence, as with Edward the Confessor, and this seems a more likely explanation of Roger's statement. 3. As there are near contemporary chroniclers such as Hrotsvitha and Æthelweard who confirm that Edith married Otto, I would leave out that later chroniclers wrongly married her to a king near the Jupiter mountains. I would suggest:
"The name of this sister of Æthelstan is not known. Modern authors generally follow William of Malmesbury in making Sihtric's wife, who he does not name, Æthelstan's full sister, but the earliest primary sources to report the marriage make no such distinction. Sarah Foot points out that the statement is in a part of the chronicle thought to be based on a lost life of Æthelstan, but Alex Woolf expresses doubt on the ground that girls were normally married in their early to mid teens in this period, and a full sister of Æthelstan would have been considerably older in 926. Chronicler Roger of Wendover calls her Edith (Eathgitam), and describes her in a manner suggesting identification with Saint Edith of Polesworth. However, this identification is not found elsewhere. Contradictory accounts in surviving chronicles give different fates to Æthelstan's sisters, and Roger may have confused Edith of Polesworth with Æthelstan's half-sister Edith (Eadgyth), who married Holy Roman Emperor Otto." refs Thacker, pp. 257-258; Foot, 2011, pp. 48, 253; Woolf, p. 150n
What do you think of this? Dudley Miles (talk) 19:13, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
The inclusion of the Woolf material is a good alternative to my chronological point, that I can't remember where I saw. However, the last sentence is sort of blurring two distinct concepts that I think are best kept separate - I have seen nobody suggest that Roger mistook Edith of Polesworth for Empress Edith. The first issue is whether Sihric's wife was really Saint Edith of Polesworth or if Roger confused them, given that nobody else places the saint in this family. The second is that the names given by all the chroniclers are a mess, with different names given to what are clearly the same daughter, and different marriages to daughters of the same name, and Roger might have fallen victim to this confusion. It is not explicitly a confusion with Empress Edith, but a general confusion over which daughter had which name. These two feed into each other: if his source had Sihtric's wife named as Edith (and the Empress named something else, e.g. Eadgyfu/Edgiva), it may have led to confusion between this Edith, Sihtric's wife but distinct from the Empress, and St Edith. The point in including the 'king near the Jupiter mtns' was not to reflect a disagreement among modern scholars over which the true Edith married, but to indicate the level of confusion that existed among the chroniclers regarding which daughters had which names. Agricolae (talk) 00:29, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
The suggestion that Roger confused Edith of Polesworth with the empress is in Foot p 48, but it can be left out if you are not happy with it. However, I have now found that Roger was not the only source to identify Sihtric's wife with Edith of Polesworth. According to Thacker p. 257 it is in early twelfth century traditions at Bury, and later related by Matthew Paris and Roger of Wendover. So how about this:
"The name of this sister of Æthelstan is not known. Modern historians generally follow William of Malmesbury in making Sihtric's wife, who he does not name, Æthelstan's full sister, but the earliest primary sources to report the marriage do not specify whether she was a full or half sister. Sarah Foot points out that William's statement is in a part of his chronicle thought to be based on a lost life of Æthelstan, but Alex Woolf expresses doubt on the ground that girls were normally married in their early to mid teens in this period, and a full sister of Æthelstan would have been considerably older in 926. A tradition first recorded in the twelfth century identifies her with Saint Edith of Polesworth, but contradictory accounts in surviving chronicles give different fates to Æthelstan's sisters, and historians are uncertain how much credence to give to the identification." refs Thacker, pp. 257-258; Foot, 2011, pp. 48, 253; Woolf, p. 150n

Infobox/lead picture[edit]

Given that we have a contemporary representation of Athelstan ("the earliest surviving Anglo-Saxon royal portrait"), shouldn't we lead with that rather than an idealised stained-glass window? Angus McLellan (Talk) 19:31, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Hi Angus. Great to hear from you after so long. I have made the change as you suggested. Dudley Miles (talk) 20:04, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

BBC TV series[edit]

Michael Wood has a new BBC TV series, last week Alfred, this week Edward and Æthelflæd, next week Æthelstan. Dudley Miles (talk) 12:30, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Sisters again[edit]

Agricolae can you look at note b and see whether you are happy with it. Also do you have a source for your edit saying "a prince near the Jupiter mountains"? I think I remember that it is a quote from Æthelweard but all the sources I can find just say the Alps. Dudley Miles (talk) 14:45, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

Æthelweard wrote, "Alteram etiam subiunxit cuipiam regi iuxta Iupitereos montes". William of Malmesbury, presumably based on Æthelweard, wrote "alteram cuidam duci juxta Alpes". For an analysis of all of the different hypotheses about her, with full sources, see here. As to note b, it seems fine, but here is my question. In a taut focused article on Æthelstan, is it really that important whether she was a full sister or a half sister? If we just call her the ambiguous 'sister', do we need this note at all? Agricolae (talk) 15:58, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
I think it is simplest just to say Alps - there is no need to refer to Jupiter. As to note b, it is a shortened version of a note you wrote, so you obviously thought then that it was required! I think some discussion of his possible only full sister is relevant, and describing her as just sister may be queried by readers who have read that she was his only full sister (as with your argument for not deleting Redburga). Dudley Miles (talk) 16:22, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

Article Quality[edit]

Thank you to all the contributors for this article. I have some suggestions that I hope you will all feel are relevant. (1) There are several occasions where he have "Historians think.." or "So and So believes...". I respectfully suggest that where there is consensus the third person should be used "Athelstan did / was ...." and then supply one or references. (2) There are several places where one POV is given undue weight. The 'Legacy' section is a good case in point. A more neutral tone is needed where only one viewpoint is available. (3) Lack of citations: There are several places where a particular POV is presented without a reference. Either a reference is needed or it should be written in neutral tone. The article has promise, but to be honest it doesn't read well at the moment. VeryLargeCommercialTransport (talk) 19:42, 26 August 2013 (UTC)VeryLargeCommercialTransport

As I have done a lot of work on this article, most or all of the criticisms apply to my edits, so some comments in reply.
On (1). I think in general it is best to state the source when citing an opinion, but this may not be necessary in all cases.
On (2). The legacy section summarises the views of historians. I have thought that the article reads as too pro-Æthelstan, but in general this reflects historians' views. The views of historians who are more critical, such as Wormald and Woolf, are quoted, but some changes are probably still needed, particularly to give more weight to historians who think that Æthelstan was illegitimate and who think he was responsible for Edwin's death.
On (3). References are given for historians' views, sometimes at the end of the paragraph. It is not usual practice to give separate references for each sentence. However, the background section does lack citations.
On VeryLargeCommercialTransport's edits. 1. No ref for York not conquered until 954. This is in the intro. It is referenced below, and it is not considered good practice to duplicate references in the intro. 2 Who was sceptical of William's account of the suppression of the Cornish? Charles-Edwards and Davies, as explained in the following sentences. 3. Citation needed for England had the most advanced currency in Europe. The citation is given at the end of the paragraph as the whole of it is based on Foot. 4. No 10C king was a keener collector of relics is POV. This is a statement of fact and the citation is given. 5. Who commented on grandiose titles? Several examples are given - Woolf, Keynes and Stevenson.
Article does not read well. No doubt it needs critical examination by a copy editor.
I will revert VeryLargeCommercialTransport's edits, but look particularly at references for the background section. Dudley Miles (talk) 21:38, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

Peer review[edit]

I have asked for peer review of this article. Advice gratefully received. Dudley Miles (talk) 23:44, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Number format[edit]

Dank has pointed out at peer review that the article is inconsistent in the number format used, e.g. eighth or 8th. This is because I prefer to spell out, but another editor changed some instances to the numeric format. WP:CENTURY says that either is acceptable but articles should be consistent in which one they use. I will therefore change all to spell out (e.g. as eighth) unless other editors object. Dudley Miles (talk) 15:58, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Æthelstan/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Sarastro1 (talk · contribs) 20:49, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

This is looking good at first glance. As it is quite long, it may take a little while to get through it all. Rather than list everything, I will do minor copyedits myself, but feel free to revert anything that I mess up, or that you are not happy with. Also, I assume this article is headed towards FA. I'll keep that in mind, so if I post anything which does not relate to the GA criteria which you are not happy with, please let me know. Sarastro1 (talk) 20:55, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Lead

  • ”was King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 and King of the English from 927 to 939”: I wonder will the average reader appreciate the difference between the two titles, and may be further confused when the Anglo Saxon title links to a list of Kings of Wessex.
I have added a note clarifying.
  • ”When Edward died in 924, Æthelstan was accepted by the Mercians as king. His half-brother Ælfweard may have been accepted as king in Wessex, but he died within weeks of their father.”: Is there a way to avoid using “accepted” twice in close succession?
Done.
  • ”Even after this, Æthelstan encountered resistance in Wessex”: “Even after this” seems a strange phrase here as there is nothing particularly surprising here based on the previous sentence.
Revised.
  • ”and even Welsh princes”: A hint of POV here? Not sure we need “even”.
Revised to clarify that 'foreign' rulers acknowledged his overlordship by attending
  • ”Æthelstan was very religious, and had a reputation for collecting relics and founding churches”: To be fair, was this not the case for the majority of kings around this time, at least in a conventional sense?
Revised to make clear that he was one of the most religious kings.
  • ”and he married several sisters to continental rulers”: Sounds like he did so personally.
Revised.

Sarastro1 (talk) 20:55, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Initial revisions to lead. Please advise if you are not happy with any of them. Dudley Miles (talk) 22:54, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
All looks good. Sarastro1 (talk) 18:40, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Primary sources

  • "Charters, law codes, and coins throw considerable light on Æthelstan's government,[11] and a scribe known as 'Æthelstan A', who was responsible for drafting all charters between 928 and 935, provides very detailed information, including signatories, dates, and locations, illuminating Æthelstan's progress around his realm.": Quite a long sentence. Could it be split?
Done
  • "By contrast with this rich source of information, no charters survive from 910 to 924": Rich is a bit POV. Could we just have "by contrast"?
I have changed rich to extensive.

Sarastro1 (talk) 22:46, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

More to come. Sarastro1 (talk) 20:55, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Early life:

  • There is a lot of passive voice in this section. While I'm not against passive voice as such, I think its use here is making the text needlessly ambiguous, and I'd prefer if we could say who is saying/thinking/interpreting things.
  • "Some historians believe that leading figures in Wessex were unwilling to accept Æthelstan as king in 924 partly because his mother had been Edward the Elder's concubine,[16] while others argue that allegations that Æthelstan was illegitimate were a product of the dispute over the succession, and that there is no reason to doubt that she was Edward's legitimate wife": This is quite a long sentence, and "while others" might feasibly be referring to figures in Wessex. Possibly reword a little? And there is a little too much going on so that some of the meaning is lost.
Revised.
  • I'm not too keen on the first paragraph of this section. We have too much "some ... while others..." Unless it is lots of people, can we name names rather than have "some historians/chroniclers"? Also, we mention what the historians think of the chroniclers views before we mention what the chroniclers said. This seems the wrong way round.
Revised. Is this OK now?
I think it would be better if I check some of the references cited by Foot before I deal with the remaining comments in this section. Hopefully, I will be able to get them from the London Library on Saturday. Dudley Miles (talk) 21:12, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
  • "Some historians have seen this as recalling Alfred's confirmation by the Pope in Rome as a young boy, and thus as an investiture of his grandson as 'throneworthy' and a potential heir.": Who sees this? The sentence is cited to Foot, so is this is view? Also, "seen this as recalling" is a little clunkily worded. Why do we have single quotation marks around throneworthy? And I wonder is an anecdote about Alfred really relevant to this article?
Deleted Alfred and Pope.
  • "An acrostic poem praising 'Adalstan' has been interpreted as a eulogy to Æthelstan..." Again, interpreted by who?
Revised.
  • "This verse has generally been dated to the late 890s and attributed to one Alfred's leading scholars...": Again, by who?
Revised.
  • The verse seems slightly out of place as well. I assume it is placed here to show that it may date from his early life, but the way it is presented, as something probably praising his rule, does not make this obvious, particularly as Foot argues against the idea. I wonder if this is the right place for it in the article?
I have tried to make clearer why this is relevant. Foot argues that it is odd for the poem to praise the wisdom of a young boy, so it probably dates to when he was king. I might reply that if he was king it would be odd to address him as prince - but that would be editorialising.

Sarastro1 (talk) 22:47, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

More to come. Sarastro1 (talk) 22:47, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

The struggle for power:

  • "When Edward died, Æthelstan was apparently with him in Mercia, while Ælfweard was in Wessex, and Mercia elected Æthelstan as king, while Wessex may have chosen Ælfweard.": Far too much going on here. We have two whiles in a very long sentence, and a succession of clauses which make it hard to follow what is happening.
Revised.
  • "his coup in 918 against Ælfwynn in Mercia": We have not called it a coup before, which makes it tricky to work out which events are being referred to.
Revised.
  • "In early 925 Æthelstan behaved as a Mercian king, describing himself as Rex Anglorum in a charter relating to land in Derbyshire, witnessed only by Mercian bishops. He does not appear to have established his authority in Wessex until mid-925, and he was not crowned until the autumn": Was he crowned separately in Mercia and Wessex? From what follows in the article, it would appear to be one coronation, but this could be made more explicit.
Revised. Is this clear now?
  • "He may have had to agree to become a 'caretaker' king": Why the single quotation marks? If they are required, should they not be doubled? But I wonder if a more technical term could be used here than "caretaker". I'm also a little concerned that this claim, which strikes me as slightly contentious, is merely referenced by a TV programme. Surely some printed sources must have suggested this, or refuted it, or supported it. If it comes as an out-of-the-blue claim by a one-off TV programme, I'm not sure how much faith we should put in it. If it is supported by other sources, we should say so, but from note a, it looks like the primary biography does not support this.
Revised. I have luckily come across a printed source which makes the same point as Janet Nelson in the TV programme.
  • "according to its annalist, Folcuin, king (sic) Eadwine": Should this not be part of the quotation if we are using sic, and using a different spelling to the rest of the article?
Revised to clarify that Folcuin thought Edwin was king without using 'sic'.
  • There are a few theories in this section, where we use "may have" or "probably". I think we need to attribute the theory to the historian(s) concerned, unless it is a widely held position.
Are there any other places where this is a problem? Dudley Miles (talk) 23:05, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Sarastro1 (talk) 20:18, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks very much for your help. I have a few things to sort out after my holiday, but I will get down to going through your comments shortly. Dudley Miles (talk) 19:24, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

King of the English

  • "According to the bland description of a southern chronicler": Bland suggests a viewpoint, which is best avoided.
Deleted.
  • "According to William of Malmesbury, after Eamont Æthelstan summoned the Welsh kings": I wonder if "after the events at Eamont, Athelstan..." makes this a little more precise and clear?
done.
  • "described by T.M. Charles-Edwards": I think we need to say who this is.
I have linked him. Is this sufficient?
It's not a problem here, but there are many FAC reviewers who like a phrase to describe the person as well as a link. (i.e. "the historian T. M. Charles-Edwards"). Sarastro1 (talk) 21:33, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
Done.
  • "According to William of Malmesbury, after Eamont Æthelstan": This is almost exactly the same wording used earlier. Could a little variety be added? Sarastro1 (talk) 20:28, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Done.

The invasion of Scotland

  • "Another possible explanation is given by the Annals of Clonmacnoise, which records the death in 934 of a ruler who may have been Ealdred of Bamburh, and this may have led to a dispute between Æthelstan and Constantine over control of his territory.": I know why this is written with such caution and uncertainty, but I think we may need a little rewrite to make it clearer to the general reader. What about "Another potential explanation, suggested in the Annals of Clonmacnoise, is the possible death in 934 of Ealdred of Bamburh, which may have led to a dispute between Æthelstan and Constantine over control of his territory." This may be too concrete or certain, but the details could be given in a note that the source is vague and that historians are reaching slightly.
Suggested in the Annals does not sound right to me. I have split into two sentences to make it more readable.

Sarastro1 (talk) 20:28, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

The Battle of Brunanburh

  • "can hardly have expected an invasion by a grand alliance so late in the year.": Not too sure about grand here. POV?
Revised
  • "The allies plundered the north west": Should north west be hyphenated?
Done.
  • "and unlike Harold in 1066, he did not allow himself to be provoked into precipitate action.": This reads slightly like editorialising. Also, I'm not sure of how useful the comparison to 1066 is in this article.
I think this is an interesting point, but I should have attributed it.
Actually, the way it's written now, I agree. Quite a nice point. Sarastro1 (talk) 21:33, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
  • "Surprisingly, in view of the part they played in the invasion of Scotland in 934, they did not fight on either side": Surprisingly is more editorialising.
Deleted - reluctantly. I think it is a valid point, but difficult to make without editorialising.
  • "it was popularly remembered as 'the great battle'": I think this should be double quotation marks.
Done.
  • "with Bromborough on the Wirral the most favoured by historians": I think this should be "among historians"?
Done.
  • "his imperium appears to have receded": Not too clear of the meaning here.
Revised.
  • In passing (no action required), the historians seem to be a little carried away by this battle. Aren't they reaching slightly? (Although obviously we need to reflect their views here) Sarastro1 (talk) 20:47, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Some historians would agree with you as I make clear. It is one of the many questions which can be argued on both sides as we have no idea how the invaders would have followed up a victory. Dudley Miles (talk) 21:20, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Section break[edit]

Administration:

  • "with great ability from 932": Reads like POV, so I think some sort of attribution is needed in the text if we are to keep this.
Deleted - not worth attributing.
  • There may be a little confusion when we introduce the half-king. Not too sure how we can avoid this. Maybe introduce him as Athelstan Half-King on the first mention, and call him the "Half-King" afterwards? Not sure. But to the general reader, this may get confusing.
Is my revision OK?
I think that should be OK. Sarastro1 (talk) 17:12, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
  • I wonder should the description of "Athelstan A" be moved to the "sources" section, where the name is given without elaboration. And should we used quotation marks for his name so that no-one thinks he had the surname "A"? (Stranger things have happened!) But no problem if you prefer to leave it here.
I have moved the sentence about his identity to sources and put his name in single quotes - which seems to me more correct and is how Foot and Keynes refer to him.
This is fine with me, but it is worth pointing out that the MoS favours double quotes. But that is certainly not going to stop this passing!
I have changed it to double quotes. It is not worth arguing with MoS, even though it is wrong!

Sarastro1 (talk) 17:12, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

Law:

  • The first paragraph here seems a little out on a limb. I think it should be there, but could we integrate it a little more into the rest of the section? Even if we just make explicit that Athelstan's laws built on Alfred's.
I think on reflection this paragraph really belongs in the background section. What do you think? Dudley Miles (talk) 22:25, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
That might work quite nicely, actually. Sarastro1 (talk) 17:12, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

I'm hoping to finish by the end of the week now. Generally, this is looking good, and the Kingship section so far is excellent. Sarastro1 (talk) 21:55, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Coinage:

  • "Later Anglo-Saxon England had the most advanced currency in Europe": For the general reader, can we explain in what way it was advanced?
Done.
  • "similar to the crown he is wearing in the illustration provided here": It is generally frowned on, I think, at FAC to have such text in the main body. Perhaps this comparison could be moved to the caption?
Done.
  • "One of the king's mass-priests": I've never heard of "mass-priests" before (though the term has possibly passed me by!). Does this mean personal priest, or something similar?
Clarified. This is described as archaic in the nineteenth century OED!
  • " He commissioned it especially to present to Chester-le Street, and it is the only surviving manuscript he gave to a religious foundation that was wholly written in England during his reign": There is something a bit off with this sentence. Was it the only manuscript written in England that he gave, or the only surviving manuscript? A bit unclear.
I cannot find a way of explaining this which is not clumsy. Is my revision better?
Yes, that is clearer. Sarastro1 (talk) 17:12, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
  • "This has a portrait of Æthelstan presenting the book to Cuthbert (see the illustration at the top of this article": Again, referring to an image in this way is not ideal. Not least if someone removes the image, or if someone using a mobile device has the image suppressed, or for someone using a screen reader, etc.
I think this is helpful to the great majority of readers, and I would prefer to keep it if its removal is not required for GA. Is this OK? PS. Nominators for Featured List status are asked to supply alt text for images so that people who cannot access them can at least see what they are about, and it seems curious that it is not usual for FA.
I'm not a huge fan, but its removal is certainly not required for GA. To be honest, if you like it, see if you can get away with it at FA level.
Deleted.

Sarastro1 (talk) 17:12, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

Learning:

  • "Learning and the church...": It is a little odd to open this section with this phrase, which appears to refer back to the church, the previous section. I think I know what you mean: sort-of religious learning or scholarship. Could this be rephrased?
Done.
  • Can we find a link for the monastic reform movement?
I cannot find an article on this. Dudley Miles (talk) 00:14, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
Seems odd, but not much we can do here (unless you feel like writing it!)
I will see whether I can have a go, although I am more familiar with the early tenth century.

Sarastro1 (talk) 17:12, 29 November 2013 (UTC) Sarastro1 (talk) 21:04, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

British monarch:

  • "while in the view of Simon Keynes, Æthelstan A proclaimed his master king of Britain "by wishful extension".": To be consistent, Athelstan A required quotation marks throughout this section if you are using them earlier, and I'm not sure why italics are used in this sentence.
Revised.

European relations:

  • We are using italics for the names of coins here, where we used quotation marks earlier.

Revised

Legacy:

  • "His great misfortune was not to have a biographer like Asser to keep his memory alive": Reads like POV, and should have some attribution.
Revised.
  • Is there anything available about how views of him changed in more recent times? For example, what did the Victorian historians make of him?
Added more on later views of him.

General:

  • I have access to a few of the sources used, and spot-checks revealed no problems with paraphrasing or attribution.
  • Images are fine, although a few on Commons have a template detail missing. But that does not affect us here.
  • Links and dablinks fine.
  • There are a few other instances of single quotation marks being used in the article, where the MoS recommends double quotation marks; that won't stop me passing, but may be a problem at FAC.

I'm pretty much finished now, so I'll place this article on hold for now. I don't think it needs much more, and should pass easily. Sarastro1 (talk) 18:18, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

I think I have dealt with your queries, apart from the double/single quotes, as I am not clear about the rules. The citation method I have used causes problems when I find a source which has the same author and year as an existing one, and I wonder whether it would be better to use the author and shortened title method. Do you have any views on this? Any other problems with the article? Dudley Miles (talk) 20:20, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Everything looks good enough now to me, and I'm happy to pass. I am not even remotely an expert on citation methods, but the shortened title method seems to be the best bet. I think the MoS recommends double quotes except when quoting within a quote, but I'm not going to let that hold up this article. I would suggest getting a few more eyes on this, and perhaps another copy-edit, before FAC, and A-Class seems a good way forward. But this looks like it is well on the way. Passing now. Sarastro1 (talk) 18:39, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Many thanks. Dudley Miles (talk) 19:30, 4 December 2013 (UTC)