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Ethelfleda (alternative spelling, "Aethelfled") was the eldest child of King Alfred the Great and his wife, Ealhswith. She was born around AD 869. She married the ealdorman or earl of Mercia in about 886, and had one daughter, Elfwynn. On her husband's death in 911, she was elevated to the status of "Lady of the Mercians". She died in 918, and is buried at Gloucester. She was joint lady of the Mercians along with Aelfwynn. She was succeeded as ruler of Mercia by her brother, King Edward the Elder.

This gives some insight into the emergence of England from Wessex. The Danes overran most of the English Kingdoms such as Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia etc. Alfred and his descendents reconquered the lands from the Danes but instead of making this seem a conquest Alfred made Eolderman Aethelred Earl of Mercia and married him to his daughter, allowing some idea of regained autonomy. When the kingdoms were absorbed they were not absorbed into Wessex or greater Wessex but into England.

The dominion of Mercia descended to her (Ethelfleda's) daughter and heiress, Elfwina (A.D. 920). This Chroniclers notice the right of Elfwina so precisely, as to leave no doubt concerning her claim; and the fact is of considerable value, in shewing, that, contrary to the practice of other Teutonic nations, the sovereign authority amongst the Anglo-Saxons might descend to a female; or, according to the Anglo-Saxon expression, which the French have adopted, "fall to the spindle side".

In this instance, however, the weaker heir was compelled to yield to a more powerful opponent, and one from whom no enmity could have been feared. Elfwina was was conducted as a captive into Mercia by her uncle Edward, who was engaged in successful warfare against the Danes; and we do not hear anything more concerning her in history.

Ref.History of the Anglo-Saxons by Sir Francis Palgrave (1876) (Paperback edition on Senate)page 164.

Preceded by:
Lady of the Mercians
with Aelfwynn
Succeeded by:

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