Aethelflaed, the Warrior Queen who defeated the Vikings

Women warriors may have been few and far between when you look at the history of the world, but when they make an impact, it reverberates across centuries. Some known names include the armored French teen, Joan of Arc, and the woman with a chariot of spiked wheels, Boudicca. Another lesser-known warrior is Aethelflaed, who was a mother, a wife, a diplomat, but most importantly a warrior queen who defeated the Vikings and laid England’s foundation. Read on to know more about this true medieval marvel.


Aethelflaed was born to English King Alfred the Great amidst a time of great turmoil as the kingdom was under an attack from the blood-hungry Vikings. She was later married to Aethelred of Mercia at the age of 16, a political alliance that bonded the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. Aethelflaed’s husband was older than her, leading to a decline in his health. As Aethelred became increasingly ill, the queen took over most of his responsibilities like refurbishing towns and signing diplomatic contracts, and soon was taking care of the military activities of Mercia.

The Lady of Mercia

Aethelflaed was declared the Lady of the Mercians after her husband died in the year 911. The high-ranking officials of Mercia, whose support was immeasurable in securing the throne, chose Aethelflaed over any male to lead their kingdom. Mercia also offered women greater rights as opposed to Aethelflaed’s native kingdom of Wessex, where even the king’s wife wouldn’t be called a queen. However, the queen in Mercia proved that she was the right choice by securing a few of the biggest victories of the 10th century. Her troops reconquered the city of Derby from the Vikings, as well as secured Leicester. However, her image as a true warrior queen was established during the battle of Tettenhall, which happened in 910.

Death and Legacy

Sadly, the queen could not reign for long and died, possibly of dysentery, in 918 and was interred alongside her husband in Gloucester. Her powers not just as a formidable warrior, but also as a shrewd negotiator and ruler have made her one of the most powerful female leaders of her time. Her life is especially famous among the Normans, whose history books lavish praise on her military achievements. Sadly, Aethelflaed’s name pales in front of her father and her brother, Edward in Wessex history. But day by day, people are taking note of the young woman who was a force to be reckoned with and are remembering her courage and leadership.