Ælfflæd (wife of Edward the Elder)
|Royal consort of Wessex|
|Tenure||c. 899 – c. 919|
|Spouse||Edward, King of the Anglo-Saxons|
Eadgifu, Queen of West Francia
Eadhild, wife of Hugh the Great
Eadgyth, Holy Roman Empress
Ælfflæd was the daughter of an ealdorman Æthelhelm, probably ealdorman Æthelhelm of Wiltshire who died in 897. Genealogist David H. Kelley and historian Pauline Stafford have identified him as Æthelhelm, a son of Edward's uncle, King Ethelred I. Other historians have rejected the idea, arguing that it does not appear to have been the practice for Æthelings (princes of the royal dynasty who were eligible to be king) to become ealdormen, that in a grant from King Alfred to Ealdorman Æthelhelm there is no reference to kinship between them, and that the hostile reception to King Eadwig's marriage to Ælfgifu, his third cousin once removed, shows that a marriage between Edward and his first cousin once removed would have been forbidden as incestuous.
Ælfflæd married King Edward around 899. She only attested one charter, dated 901, where she was described as conjux regis. She never attested as queen. and although she was previously thought to have been consecrated as queen when Edward was crowned in 900, this is now thought unlikely. In 1827 the tomb of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral was opened, and among the objects found were a stole and maniple which had inscriptions showing that they had been commissioned by Ælfflæd for bishop Frithestan of Winchester. However, they had been donated by her step-son king Æthelstan to Cuthbert's tomb, probably in 934.
Ælfflæd had two sons, Ælfweard, who became king of Wessex on his father's death in 924 but died himself within a month, and Edwin, who was drowned in 933. She also had five or six daughters, including Eadgifu, wife of Charles the Simple, king of West Francia, Eadhild, who married Hugh the Great, duke of the Franks, and Eadgyth, wife of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. In around 967 Hrotsvitha, a nun of Gandersheim, wrote a eulogy of the deeds of Otto I in which she contrasted the nobility of Eadgyth's mother with the inferior descent of Æthelstan's mother.
Edmund I, the future king who was a son of Edward's third wife, Eadgifu, was born in 920 or 921, so Ælfflæd's marriage must have ended in the late 910s. According to William of Malmesbury, Edward put aside Ælfflæd in order to marry Eadgifu, a claim which Sean Miller viewed sceptically, but it is accepted by other historians. She is reported to have retired to Wilton Abbey, where she was joined by two of her daughters, Eadflæd and Æthelhild, and all three were buried there.
Her children were:
- Eadgifu, wife of Charles the Simple, king of West Francia
- Eadhild, wife of Hugh the Great, duke of the Franks
- Eadgyth, wife of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
- Ælfgifu, wife of Louis, brother of Rudolf of Burgundy?
- Eadflæd, nun at Wilton
- Æthelhild, vowess at Wilton
- Stafford, pp. 324-325
- Kelley, pp. 63-93
- Yorke, pp. 33-34; Foot, 2011, p. 37 n. 25
- Foot, 2011, pp. 11, 37 n. 26
- Foot, 2011, pp. 121-123
- Foot, 2011 pp. xv, 38, 41, 44
- Foot, 2011, p. 30
- Miller, Edward the Elder
- Williams, Ælfflæd; Sharp, p. 82; Foot, 2010, p. 243
- Sharp, p. 82; Foot, 2011, p. 45
- Foot, 2011 p. xv
- Foot, Sarah (2010). "Dynastic Strategies: The West Saxon Royal Family in Europe". In Rollason, David; Leyser, Conrad; Williams, Hannah. England and the Continent in the Tenth Century:Studies in Honour of Wilhelm Levison (1876-1947). Brepols. ISBN 9782503532080.
- Foot, Sarah (2011). Æthelstan: the first king of England. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12535-1.
- Kelley, David H. (1989). "The House of Aethelred". In Brook, L.L. Studies in Genealogy and Family History. Tribute to Charles Evans on the Occasion of his 80th Birthday. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.
- Miller, Sean (2004). "Edward [called Edward the Elder] (870s?–924), king of the Anglo-Saxons". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8514. Retrieved 28 April 2013. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- Sharp, Sheila (2001). "The West Saxon Tradition of Dynastic Marriage". In N. J. Higham; & D. H. Hill. Edward the Elder 899-924. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-21497-1.
- Stafford, Pauline (1997). Queen Emma & Queen Edith:Queenship and Women's Power in Eleventh-Century England. Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-16679-3.
- Williams, Ann (1991). "Ælfflæd queen d. after 920". In Williams, Ann; Smyth, Alfred P.; Kirby, D. P. A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain. Seaby. p. 6. ISBN 1 85264 047 2.
- Yorke, Barbara (2001). "Edward as Ætheling". In N. J. Higham; & D. H. Hill. Edward the Elder 899-924. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-21497-1.
| Royal consort of Wessex
c. 899 – c. 919
Eadgifu of Kent