Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 18.djvu/27

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Chad at Lastingham, and followed him to Lichfield. The base of his monumental pillar, bearing an inscription recording his name, is still preserved in the south aisle of Ely Cathedral.

[Bædæ Hist. Eccl. iv. 3, 19, 20; Thomas Eliens. ap. Wharton, Anglia Sacra, i. 591 sq.; W. Malm., Gesta Pontiff. pp. 322–3; Bright's Early Engl. Church Hist. pp. 151, 230, 235, 251.]

E. V.

ETHELFLEDA, ÆTHELFLÆD, or ÆLFLED (d. 918?), the ‘lady of the Mercians,’ the eldest daughter of King Ælfred and Ealhswith, was given in marriage by her father to Æthelred, the ealdorman of the Mercians, in or before 880 (Kemble, Codex Dipl. p. 311). Her marriage is politically important, for it led to the completion of the union of Mercia with Wessex under the West-Saxon kings, and should be compared with the marriage of her aunt Æthelswith, the daughter of Æthelwulf, to Burhred, the king of the Mercians. With Burhred's departure from England the Mercian kingship virtually ended, for his successor, Ceolwulf, was a mere phantom king set up by the Danes. As soon as Ælfred had won western Mercia he gave it, along with his daughter's hand, to Æthelred, a member of the old Mercian royal house, intending to rule it through his son-in-law as ealdorman, as Æthelwulf had probably ruled it to some extent through his son-in-law Burhred as under-king. After her brother Eadward had come to the throne, Æthelflæd and her husband, for the two seem to have acted with equal authority (ib. 1081), strengthened Mercia against the Danes by fortifying and colonising Chester in 907; this step put them in command of the lower Dee, and enabled them to hinder the Danes and the Northmen of Ireland from passing from North Wales into the Danelaw. When the Danes broke the peace in 910, it is probable that Æthelred was ill; his wife, however, seems to have led the Mercians either in that year, which was marked by Eadward's victory at Tettenhall, or in the next year, when the English were victorious at Wodenfield, to have joined in routing a combined force of Danes and Norwegians, and to have pursued the enemy into the forests of the Welsh border (Irish Fragments). About the same time possibly she made alliance with the Scots of Ireland and with the Welsh against the pagans, and built a stronghold at ‘Bremesbyrig’ (? A.-S. Chron. Canterbury; ‘Brunesbury,’ Henry of Huntingdon). During the illness of Æthelred it is said that Chester was attacked by the Northmen. Hingamund, or Ingwar, a chief of the Norwegans (Lochlanns), had come over from Ireland and ravaged Anglesea in 902 (Ann. Cambrenses, sub an. 902); he had afterwards been defeated by the Welsh, prayed Æthelflæd to allow him and his people to settle in her dominions, and obtained leave to settle near Chester. After a while he and his men coveted the wealth of the new colony, and prepared to attack it. The ‘king’ and ‘queen,’ as the Irish called the ealdorman and his wife, bade their men defend the town, and they did so with courage and success. Moreover, Æthelflæd won the Irish Danes (Gaidhil) to her side against the pagan Norwegians, sending to them to remind them that she and the ealdorman had treated their soldiers and clerks with honour. This decided their success, and the siege was raised (Irish Fragments. It seems impossible to speak certainly as to the date of these transactions; they are given in this place because they are said in the Irish story from which they come to have happened during the last illness of Æthelred. It seems possible, however, that this siege of Chester has nothing to do with Æthelflæd's life, and that it should come in the latter part of Eadward's reign). Æthelflæd lost her husband, who had for a long time been incapacitated by sickness, either in 911 or 912 (A.-S. Chron., Canterbury, Worcester, and Abingdon versions; Florence; Æthelweard); she was left with one daughter, after whose birth it is said that she declined incurring the risk of again becoming a mother, declaring that the bringing forth of children did not become a king's daughter (Gesta Regum, sec. 125). She and her husband brought up their nephew Æthelstan at their court. After Æthelred's death she continued to rule Mercia, with the title of the ‘Lady of the Mercians,’ but the king joined London and Oxford, with the lands pertaining to them, to Wessex. Æthelflæd now set herself to secure Mercia against the attacks of the Danes and Northmen by building fortresses which would hinder them from entering the country from North Wales, where they found allies, or by the principal roads that led into central England. First, in 912, she set about the defence of the middle course of the Severn, leading her people to Scargate in May, and there building (the word ‘getimbrede’ signifies more than raising earthworks) a fortress; and in the same year she built another at Bridgnorth, close by which place the village of Danesford still testifies to the cause of her work. The next year she raised two fortresses on Watling Street, the road that formed the boundary between England and the Danelaw, the one at Tamworth, where the road bifurcates, one branch leading to Wroxeter and the other to Chester, and