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Æthelwulf

Æthelwulf (d. 858), king of Wessex (839–58). The son of Egbert (802–39) and father of four kings, the youngest of whom was Alfred the Great (871–99), Æthelwulf is a far from negligible figure in Anglo-Saxon history. He was a competent military leader, acting as a subking in the south-east in his father's lifetime (829–39), and conducting substantial campaigns against the Danes at Aclea in Kent in 851 and against the Welsh of Powys (in support of his Mercian allies) in 853. Much of his personal interest seemed, however, to lie in ecclesiastical directions. He made generous provision for the financing of churches (his Decimations), apparently in the form of grants of a tenth of royal lands into the hands of thegns empowered to transfer proceeds to religious foundations. In 855 he yielded his authority to his eldest son Æthelbald, and went on pilgrimage to Rome, possibly accompanied by his young son Alfred, who would have been about 6. Æthelwulf was away from his kingdom for a twelvemonth, and on his return with a Frankish princess as a bride (a young girl, Judith, held to be only 12 years old) he was forced to agree to a division of the kingdom with his own authority confined effectively to the south-east until his death in 858. Æthelbald then succeeded to the whole kingdom, and also, in spite of the fact that she was his stepmother, married Judith.

Henry Loyn

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Æthelwulf

Æthelwulf (ĕ´thəlwŏŏlf, ă´–), d. 858, king of Wessex (839–56), son and successor of Egbert; father of Æthelbert, Æthelred, and Alfred. He was lord of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, and Essex before his father's death in 839. As king of Wessex he was compelled to defend his realm against constant Danish attacks, and he won a notable victory over them at Aclea in 851. He also campaigned against the Welsh. A man of great piety, he went with his son Alfred to Rome in 855. In 856 he took as his second wife Judith, daughter of Charles II (Charles the Bald) of France. Learning before his return to England that his son Æthelbald, who had ruled in his absence, would resist his resumption of the kingship, Æthelwulf left his son as king of Wessex and himself ruled only in Kent and its dependencies, where Æthelbert succeeded him.

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