Ælfweard of Wessex

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King of Wessex (disputed)
Reign17 July 924 – c. 2 August 924
PredecessorEdward the Elder
Bornc. 902
Wessex, England
Died2 August 924 (aged 21–22)
Oxford, England
FatherEdward the Elder
ReligionRoman Catholic

Ælfweard (/ˈælfwɔːrd/; c. 902 – 2 August 924) was the second son of Edward the Elder, the eldest born to his second wife Ælfflæd.

Kingship and death[edit]

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle simply states that Ælfweard died soon after his father's death on 17 July 924 and that they were buried together at Winchester. Manuscript D of the Chronicle specifies that he outlived his father by only 16 days. No reign is explicitly attributed to him here. However, a list of West-Saxon kings in the 12th-century Textus Roffensis[1] mentions him as his father's successor, with a reign of four weeks.[2] He is also described as king in the New Minster Liber Vitae,[3][4] an 11th-century source based in part on earlier material. On the other hand, William of Malmesbury, relying on a poem, related that Edward's eldest son (by his first wife Ecgwynn), Æthelstan, succeeded directly under the terms of King Alfred's will (since lost).[5] The poem had once been considered a near-contemporary authority, but Michael Lapidge has shown this to be based on a misunderstanding of William's reference to "a certain obviously ancient book".[6]

This conflicting documentation has led to alternative interpretations, some modern historians concluding that he had succeeded his father in preference to his older half-brother Æthelstan, while others maintain that Æthelstan was the only heir to his father.[5] Alternatively, a divided rule has been suggested, since the so-called Mercian register of the Chronicle reports that Æthelstan became king of the Mercians, and William of Malmesbury, though denying a reign for Ælfweard, reports that Æthelstan was educated at the Mercian court of his aunt Æthelflæd.[2][5][7] In the view of Simon Keynes, Ælfweard was recognised as king in Wessex and Æthelstan in Mercia, and although it is possible that Edward intended a division of the kingdom after his death, it is more likely that the leaders of Wessex chose Ælfweard and Mercia set up Æthelstan in opposition.[8]

Ælfweard died only 16 days after his father, on 2 August 924 at Oxford, and was buried at the New Minster, Winchester. Æthelstan still had difficulty in securing acceptance in Wessex, and he was not crowned King of the Anglo-Saxons until 4 September 925.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Rochester, Cathedral Library, MS A.3.5, fols. 7v-8r).
  2. ^ a b Yorke, Bishop Æthelwold. p. 71.
  3. ^ f. 9v, cited by Yorke.
  4. ^ "Ælfweard 4". Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England.
  5. ^ a b c Williams, "Some Notes", pp. 149–50.
  6. ^ Lapidge, "Some Latin poems as evidence for the reign of Athelstan." 50–1.
  7. ^ Walker, Mercia and the Making of England. p. 127.
  8. ^ a b Keynes, 'Rulers of the English', p. 514
  9. ^ Foot, Æthelstan, p. 17


  • Foot, Sarah (2011). Æthelstan the first king of England. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-12535-1.
  • Keynes, Simon (2001). "Rulers of the English, c.450–1066". In Michael Lapidge; John Blair; Simon Keynes; Donald Scragg (eds.). The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-6312-2492-1.
  • Lapidge, Michael. "Some Latin Poems as Evidence for the Reign of Athelstan." In Anglo-Latin Literature 900–1066, ed. M. Lapidge. London, 1993.
  • Lapidge, Michael (2001). The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1.
  • Walker, Ian W. (2000). Mercia and the Making of England. Sutton Pub Limited. ISBN 978-0-7509-2131-2.
  • Williams, Ann, "Some Notes and Considerations on Problems Connected with the English Royal Succession, 860–1066", Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 1978, R. Allen Brown, ed., Boydell & Brewer, 1979, 144–167.
  • Yorke, Barbara. Bishop Æthelwold. His Career and Influence. Woodbridge, 1988.

Further reading[edit]

  • Keynes, Simon (1996). The Liber Vitae of the New Minster and Hyde Abbey in Winchester. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger. pp. 20–22.

External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Edward the Elder
King of Wessex
Succeeded by