Vikings & The Last Kingdom’s Wessex characters.
Ecgberht (771/775 – 839) was King of Wessex from 802 until his death. His father was Ealhmund of Kent. In the 780s Ecgberht was forced into exile by Offa of Mercia and Beorhtric of Wessex, but on Beorhtric’s death in 802 Ecgberht returned and took the throne.
In 825 Ecgberht defeated Beornwulf of Mercia, ended Mercia’s supremacy. In 829 he defeated Wiglaf of Mercia and drove him out of his kingdom, temporarily ruling Mercia directly. Later that year Ecgberht received the submission of the Northumbrian king at Dore. Ecgberht was unable to maintain this dominant position, and within a year Wiglaf regained the throne of Mercia. However, Wessex did retain control of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey. These southeastern kingdoms were finally absorbed into the kingdom of Wessex after Ecgberht’s son Æthelwulf‘s death in 858.
Æthelwulf (died 858) was the first son to succeed his father as West Saxon king since 641. The Vikings were not a major threat to Wessex during Æthelwulf’s reign. In 853 he joined a successful Mercian expedition to Wales to restore the traditional Mercian hegemony. In 855 Æthelwulf went on pilgrimage to Rome, and on his way back he married Judith, the daughter of the West Frankish King Charles the Bald. He is regarded as one of the most successful West Saxon kings, who laid the foundations for the success of his son, Alfred the Great.
Judith of Flanders (c. 843 – c. 870) was the eldest daughter of the West Frankish King and later Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Bald and his wife Ermentrude of Orléans. Through her marriages to two Kings of Wessex, Æthelwulf and Æthelbald, she was twice a queen. Her first two marriages were childless, but through her third marriage to Baldwin, she became the first Countess of Flanders and an ancestor of later Counts of Flanders. One of her sons married Ælfthryth, a daughter of Æthelbald’s brother, Alfred the Great. She was also an ancestor of Matilda of Flanders, the consort of William the Conqueror, and thus of later monarchs of England.
Æthelred I (847 – 871)
Æthelwold (died 902 or 903) Because Æthelwold and his brother were still infants when their father the king died, the throne passed to the king’s younger brother Alfred the Great. After Alfred’s death in 899, Æthelwold disputed the throne with Alfred’s son, Edward the Elder. He was killed at the Battle of the Holme.
Alfred the Great (849 – 899) is the first King of the West Saxons to style himself “King of the Anglo-Saxons”. Alfred spent several years dealing with Viking invasions. After a decisive victory in the Battle of Edington in 878 Alfred made an agreement with the Vikings, creating what was known as Danelaw in the North of England.
Alfred had a reputation as a learned and merciful man of a gracious and level-headed nature who encouraged education, proposing that primary education be conducted in English rather than Latin, and improved his kingdom’s legal system, military structure, and his people’s quality of life.