Three days after their arrival in Reading, a party of Danes, led by two of their earls, rode out towards Englefield. Here Æthelwulf, the Ealdorman of the shire, had mustered a force and was waiting for them. In the ensuing Battle of Englefield many of the Danes – including one of the earls named Sidrac – were killed, and the rest driven back to Reading.
The Saxon victory at Englefield did not last long. Four days later, the main West Saxon army, led by King Ethelred and his brother, Alfred the Great attacked the main Danish encampment at Reading and were bloodily repulsed, in what became known as the first Battle of Reading. Among the many dead of both sides was Æthelwulf. Further battles followed, including the Battle of Ashdown, when Alfred led the Saxon forces to victory, and the Battle of Basing, when the Danes prevailed. In April 871, Ethelred died, to be succeeded by Alfred. Much of King Alfred's 28-year reign was taken up with the Danish conflict.