Æthelflæd: iron lady of Mercia

Alex Burghart pays tribute to Æthelflæd, a remarkable woman who turned a cornered Anglo-Saxon kingdom into a powerhouse that defeated the Welsh and the Vikings

A statue of Æthelflæd which stands in the grounds of Tamworth Castle in Staffordshire. (Photo by Chris Gibson/Alamy Stock Photo)

This article was first published in the August 2011 issue of BBC History Magazine

Anglo-Saxon history is full of forgotten heroes. This year marks the 1,100th anniversary of the accession of one of the most forgotten and, in some ways, one of the most remarkable. In 911, Æthelflæd, daughter of King Alfred the Great (871–99), succeeded her husband, Æthelred, as ruler of the Midland realm of Mercia. In doing so she became one of the only Anglo-Saxon women to rule in her own right, and a key player in the period that would shape the formation of England.

Want to read more?

Become a BBC History Magazine subscriber today to unlock all premium articles in The Library

Unlock now