Æthelheard of Wessex

Æthelheard of Wessex

Æthelheard (died 740) (Means roughly 'Noble Stern'), also spelled Ethelheard or "Æþelheard", was King of Wessex from 726 to 740. There is an unreliable record of Æthelheard having been the brother-in-law of his predecessor, Ine, but his ancestry is unknown, perhaps making him the first King of Wessex not to be descended from Cynric by blood.

When Ine abdicated and went to Rome in 726, he left behind no obvious heir, and according to Bede simply left his kingdom "to younger men". [Frank Stenton, "Anglo-Saxon England" (1943, 1971, 1998 Oxford paperback), pages 72–73.] In the wake of his departure, the West Saxon throne was disputed between Æthelheard and a rival claimant, Oswald. Oswald may have had the better claim, as the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" calls him a descendant of the early king Ceawlin, ["ASC" manuscript A, 728.] but it was Æthelheard who prevailed. It is possible that his success was due to the support of Æthelbald of Mercia, since he seems to have been subject to Æthelbald afterward. However, Æthelheard's lack of independence does not seem to have prevented Æthelbald from taking considerable territory from Wessex in 733, including the royal manor of Somerton.

His wife Frithugyth is recorded in the "Chronicle" making a pilgrimage to Rome in 737.

ee also

*House of Wessex family tree


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