What you may not know about the early forming of modern-day England is that it was championed by a woman- Aetheflaed, a courageous and visionary woman who fought mercilessly against the Vikings and other invading forces of the late 900th century.
It is likely that Aethelflaed lost influence in history due to her brother’s rise and claim to power, but she none-the-less was a fearless warrior and leader of her region. One of her admirers, William of Malmsebury, described her as “a powerful accession to [Edward’s] party, the delight of his subjects, the dread of his enemies, a woman of enlarged soul”. She was remarkable and capable, a lost artifact of history.
She felt her power so potent that, after the birth of her first son, she declined a second lover for fear that “it was ‘unbecoming of the daughter of a king to give way to a delight which, after a time, produced such painful consequences'”. She felt her power and influence was too precious to give to anyone.
Later, a poet wrote :
- Heroic Elflede! great in martial fame,
- A man in valour, woman though in name:
- Thee warlike hosts, thee, nature too obey’d,
- Conqu’ror o’er both, though born by sex a maid.
- Chang’d be thy name, such honour triumphs bring.
- A queen by title, but in deeds a king.
- Heroes before the Mercian heroine quail’d:
- Caesar himself to win such glory fail’d.[d]
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