Eadgifu, also known as Edgiva or Edgitha, was a queen of Wessex, a kingdom in what is now England, during the 10th century. She was the wife of King Edward the Elder, who ruled from 899 to 924, and the mother of King Æthelstan, who ruled from 924 to 939. Eadgifu played an important role in the history of Wessex, helping to secure the kingdom’s borders and expanding its influence.
Born in the late 9th century, Eadgifu was a member of the royal family of Mercia, a powerful kingdom in central England. She was the daughter of King Æthelred I and his wife, Æthelflæd. Her brother, Æthelstan, became king of Mercia in 911, and her uncle, Æthelwold, was the bishop of Winchester.
Eadgifu married King Edward the Elder in the early 10th century, and the couple had two children: Æthelstan, who would become king of Wessex, and a daughter named Eadgyth. Eadgifu’s marriage to King Edward helped to secure an alliance between Wessex and Mercia, and it was likely part of a broader strategy to unite the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms against the Viking invaders who were threatening England at the time.
King Edward and Queen Eadgifu worked together to defend Wessex from the Vikings and to expand the kingdom’s borders. In 910, Edward led a successful campaign against the Vikings in eastern England, and in 918, he won a decisive victory at the Battle of Corbridge, which ended Viking rule in the north of England.
Queen Eadgifu played a key role in supporting her husband’s military campaigns. She frequently accompanied him on military expeditions, and she is said to have helped fortify the kingdom’s defences by building burhs, or fortified towns, throughout Wessex. She also supported the construction of several important monasteries, including the monastery at Milton Abbas, which was founded in 934.
In addition to her political and military contributions, Eadgifu was also known for her generosity and her religious devotion. She was a benefactor of several monasteries, including the monastery at Winchester, where she and King Edward were buried after their deaths. She also founded a convent at Wherwell, which was later renamed the Abbey of St. Mary of the Assumption.
Despite her many achievements, Eadgifu is not well-known today, and she has been largely overshadowed by her husband and son in the historical record. However, her contributions to the defence and expansion of Wessex cannot be underestimated, and she played a crucial role in securing the kingdom’s future during a time of great political and military upheaval in England.
Eadgifu’s legacy can be seen in the lasting impact of her husband’s and son’s reigns. King Edward’s victories against the Vikings helped to establish Wessex as the dominant kingdom in England, and his policies laid the foundation for the eventual unification of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms under his son, King Æthelstan.
King Æthelstan, who was the first king of all England, continued his father’s and mother’s work of defending the kingdom from foreign invaders and expanding its borders. He is remembered for his military conquests, including his victory at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937, which is considered one of the most important battles in English history.
Eadgifu was a queen of Wessex who played an important role in the history of the kingdom. She supported her husband, King Edward the Elder, in his military campaigns against the Vikings and helped to secure Wessex’s borders. She was also known for her religious devotion and generosity, and she was a benefactor of several monasteries. Despite her many achievements, Eadgifu is not well-known today, and she has been largely overshadowed by her husband and son in the historical record. However, her contributions to the defence and expansion of Wessex cannot be underestimated, and she played a crucial role in securing the kingdom’s future during a time of great political and military upheaval in England. Her legacy can be seen in the lasting impact of her husband’s and son’s reigns, which laid the groundwork for the eventual unification of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms under King Æthelstan.