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Athelbald of Wessex facts for kids

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King of Wessex
Reign (856-860)
Born 832
Died December 20, 860(860-12-20)
Burial Sherborne Abbey
Father Athelwulf
Mother Osburga

Athelbald, also spelled Æthelbald or Ethelbald (c. 832–860) was a West Saxon nobleman. In 856 he was King of Wessex while his father was in Rome. When Athelwulf returned, Athelbald refused to step down. To avoid a civil war, Athelwulf gave his son the kingdom of Wessex and became sub-king of Kent.


Athelbald was the second of the five sons of King Athelwulf of Wessex and Osburga. She was the daughter of Oslac, Athelwulf's butler. He was born about 832. He is recording fighting alongside his father in 851 in the battle at Acleah. There the Vikings who had just defeated Berhtwulf of Mercia near London and when they moved into Surrey they were met and defeated by the West Saxons. In 855 his father Athelwulf went on a pilgrimage to Rome. He left the kingdom in the care of Athelbald. After spending a year in Rome and spending time at court of Charles the Bald, King of the West Franks, Athelwulf returned. But he had wed the king's young daughter, Judith. She could not have been any older than thirteen at the time. The Frankish king Charles had insisted that his daughter be consecrated queen. When Athelwulf returned to Wessex with his new Queen, Athelbald objected to his father remaining king. To avoid a civil war Athelwulf agreed to take the sub-kingship of Kent. He let Ethelbald retain his position as king of Wessex. Athelwulf died in 858 as the King of Kent. Athelbald then took his father's young wife Judith as his own wife, apparently without a major scandal.

Despite his marriage to his step-mother Judith, he had no children. He was succeeded by his brother Athelbert of Wessex.

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