Lady of the Mercians

Her importance to both Runcorn and England

These pages are based on a talk given to the members of the Runcorn & District Historical Society by Mike Hodgkinson, Chairman of the Society.

In this article, I hope to demonstrate that Ethelfleda was not only the founder of the first fortified settlement in Runcorn, but arguably the first great Englishwoman and a pivotal figure in the foundation of England. I am not an amateur historian, but like most of you - someone who is interested in history. At school the only English history I was taught in the period between the Roman occupation and 1066 was that King Alfred and his descendents fought the Danes and that Alfred burnt the cakes. Since that time I have read books about the period between the Romans and the Normans and plan to show the importance of Ethelfleda to the formation of the Kingdom of England.

She was the daughter of King Alfred the Great. After the death of her husband Ethelred in the year 911, she became known as the "Lady of the Mercians", when she took over the ruling of Mercia. She was an extraordinary woman and planned and led expeditions against the Danes.

Her efforts and influence were pivotal in the creation of the Kingdom of England. A silver penny from the reign of Alfred the Great describes him as Rex Anglorum - King of the English. But this claim is only half true. Alfred had been king of the Saxons who lived in Wessex and the Angles in the area of Mercia under the control his allies. The work of extending Anglo-Saxon authority over the whole of England, as it would become known, was done by Alfred's children and grandchildren - and of those the most remarkable was his daughter Ethelfleda, whose exploits as a warrior and town-builder won her fame as the 'Lady of the Mercians'

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