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Aethelflaed of Mercia, 917 AD - Women War Queens



A Quick Concept Drawing for Aethelflaed (Æthelflæd) Alfredsdohtor, Lady of the Mercians. She was the daughter of King Alfred the Great who ruled the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom, later married to Aethelred, lord of Mercia and ruled his kingdom after his death, from 911 AD to 918 AD.

Historical Women War Queens Logo by Gambargin
Project: Women War Queens Series

"Earh mæg þæt an þæt he him ondræde"


Made in collaboration under the guidance and historical advice from :iconuracca:. After the recent events, she has helped me to see if i can start and get into the habbit of drawing again. Inspired by her recent works on Artemisia of Caria, as well as the poll I made earlier on which "Historical Women Warriors I should Draw?".

In this drawing, she is depicted wearing hauberk/chainmial shirt, as well as a stylized full-face Anglo-Saxon Helmet with little boar, since i'm a bit lazy to draw her face. She is accompanied by her fellow Mercian Lords, as well as her heavily armed retainers or Thegns. I chose this depiction because in my opinion, since she took part in the battle against the Danish Viking, she would have been properly armed and armored just like her mercian lords and thanes, although I may includes some stylization which could be considered inaccurate =P

Inspired by the song fit for an Anglo-Saxon Queen - TES Skyrim OST - Sovngarde

Credit goes to :iconmy-sword-is-bigger:,:iconcoragus:,:iconarwendeluhtiene: and :iconbrowncoatmando: for the inspiration in creation of this drawing :)


We have heard of the Vikings and how they invaded England. Ferocious in their fight, they would face the equally fierce and brave Anglo-saxons who fought them back that started the period of which, the two wrestled control over England. Amidst the height of the conflict in 10th century, rose one figure who bested the vikings, a Woman who had successfully defeated another of britain's invaders, something that Boudicca failed with the Romans centuries earlier. Her name was Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians, A figure revered by both the English and the Celts for her fight against the Pagan invaders of Britain.

Aethelflaed was the daughter of King Alfred the Great, nd English King of Anglo-Saxon origin, who later married the Lord of Mercia, Aethelred. At this time, the Anglo Saxons were divided into few political divisions, and Alfred needed to secure the alliance he needs to defeat the Vikings who occupied most of eastern and northern England. Various intermarriage between the Anglo-Saxons royal families were therefore important in order to unite them in fighting against the Viking, as such, this is where Aethelflaed comes into part. Her Husband, Aethelred, ruled Mercia which is located north of the Kingdom of Wessex, and shared border with Welsh to the west, and the East Anglians (Viking Dominion) to the east. Despite being one of the prominent power in the region, Althered was loyal to the Wessex King, preferring to be called as Ealdorman. It was from her marriage to him that lady Aethelflaed learned the intrigue of politics, and the necessity of securing political alliances in order to combat the threat of the Vikings.

When Alfred Died in 899, The Mercian Ealdorman Aethelred assured his support for Alfred's Successor, Edward, the brother of Aethelflaed. However, as the time pass, Aethelred grew older and weaker and in the last few years of his reign, Aethelflaed began to assert her control over Mercian affairs, though always in conjuction with her Brother, Edward, whom by now, is the King of Wessex. In 911, Aethelred died, and the control over Mercia passed onto Aethelflaed, which by this time, had already been recognized and gained majority support amongst the Mercian nobility. She also helped her brother Alfred in council over matter ranging from domestic, city-building as well as political affairs, which assisted Alfred greatly. She was, as described in her chronicle, a Woman who protected men at home and intimidated them abroad, due to her superior management and diplomatic skills. Despite her popularity abroad and within, she refused to be called queen, instead, adopted the title "Lady of Mercian" so as to maintain political alliance with her brother Edward.

Ever since then, Edwards developed and executed a new strategy in expanding the realm alongside her sister. Aethelflaed began by building numerous fortifications and burghs alon the mercian border, as well as fending of incusions sent by the Vikings, Irish, and the Northumbrians. This allowed the Anglo-saxons to consolidate their hold over the reigon, and provide source of manpower and supplies before a full force assault on the vikings. Througout much of this period, the tension between the Viking and the Anglo-saxon some what relaxed, however, on the other hand Aethelfaled was tempted into entering Wales and began her campaign against the Welsh, storming Brecenanmere in 916 and subjugating it's welsh king. Later on the following year, the Vikings warbands from Northampton and Leicester marched on to mercia and led a Major assault against it, pillaging many of the towns and slaughtering their inhabitants. Thus, the call of war has been called, from there, Aethelflaed and Edward began to move on the offensive.

One of the famous event in this fight against the vikings was the two pronged attack in 917, Edward would assault the Danes at East Anglia, while Aethelfaled marched towards derby and conquered the Viking stronghold there. The result was the removal of Viking powers in East Anglia, Bedford, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Northampton and Derby, were the survivors pledged their allegiance to Edward. Given the Success, In spring on 918, Edward led an advance on Stamford, while at the same time, Aethelflaed launched an attack on Leicester, both of which were capture by the 2 anglo-saxon assaults. The victories caused a major shock to many of the vikings, that the Vikings of York pledged their submission to Edward, fearing the power and might of the Anglo-Saxons. The brother and sister became celebrated figures due to their success, but alas, such joy did not last long.

In June 918, Aethelflaed fell ill, and passed away. It was a loss that saddened all of Mercia, and to Edward, who had been working closely together with her sister previously, was a moral and emotional shock. But the king wasted no further time and shortly assumed control of Mercia, on which, becuase of his sister's legacy, acknowledged him as the ruler. Now with the support of Mercia, he would ride forth to conquer the remaining Viking strongholds in Midlands and bring back the control of land south of humbler under the English Control after 4 decades of Danish Vikings rule.

But why have we heard so little of her in the history books compared to others like Joan of Arc of Artemisia? Indeed, Aethelflaed played major and important role in helping her brother Edward in his military campaigns against the Vikings, and her considerable military and political ability had contributed to the numerous Victories in freeing England from Viking controls. But alas, the Anglo-Saxon chronicles maintained that Edward should be the sole chief author of the victory as a propaganda in which, the role of Aethelflaed diminished and  remained largely forgotten to this day. This was an attempt on which the chronicles wanted to assert political authority over its subject, not of sexual prejudice, but of political design. On the other hand, Aethelflaed was remembered as the " Queen of Saxons" in foreign courts as well as in the Annals of Ulster, preventing her legacy from being completely wiped out.


You can see another Historical Women Warriors drawn from this series:

Artemisia I of Caria, 480 BC - Women War Queens by Gambargin Artemisia of Caria, Queen of Halicarnassus

You can suggest or contribute to the voting in the poll "Historical Women Warriors I should Draw?"

If you are interested in the Anachronistic Women Warriors of the Historically Wrong Sketch Series like this one, an Anglo-Saxon Woman Warrior Frua Aelfwynn of Seaxna Rice (Anglo-Saxons) by Gambargin, please feel free to visit my gallery :D
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CrazyIrishguy's avatar
I see the historically accurate armor.