While historians recognized Aethelstan as a central figure in British history for his defeat of the Vikings, the centralization of government, and for the establishing Britain as a strong force in European politics, new evidence suggests that he wouldn’t have been capable of doing so without the assistance and influence of his aunt, Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians. Aethelflaed was a queen warrior who secured the foundations of England and was practically written out of history simple because she was a woman. Not anymore!
Her marriage was a display of unity and commitment between Wessex and Mercia
Aethelflaed married the King of Mercia, Aethelred, who was a powerful warlord during the time. Aethelflaed was educated and cultured which proved instrumental when she had to take part in the life of court and administration following her husband’s health decline. She was an effective ruler and her leadership was readily accepted by the people when her husband died.
The queen warrior was a brilliant strategist
Aethelflaed made tactical alliances that helped unite people and protect Saxon England. She knew the value of force and defense, but more importantly, she recognized the value of diplomacy to get to others, even her enemies. She also knew when exactly to use force and when to practice restraint. After the murder of Abbot Ecgberht and his companions, she invaded Wales and took Brecknock in 916 — otherwise, she would have appeared to be a weak ruler.
She protected her people and her territories
After the death of her husband and the increasing threat of invasion, Aethelflaed expanded her policy of building fortified settlements to protect Mercia against the Vikings. Considering the kind of defense she put up around the whole of Mercia, her people prospered and they felt safe. Under her rule, the British were able to withstand Viking attacks and maintain the stronghold of their land. When she died, she was buried in a church she had built.