Athelheard of Wessex facts for kids

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Athelheard
King of Wessex
Reign 726–740
Predecessor Ine
Successor Cuthred
Died 740
Consort Frithugyth
House House of Wessex

Athelheard, also spelled Æthelheard († 740), was a West Saxon nobleman and atheling. He was the King of Wessex from 726 until his death. He took the powerful kingdom of Wessex left to him by Ine and lost much of it to Mercia.

King of Wessex

When Ine stepped down as King of Wessex it caused a problem of succession. Ine's son had been killed rebelling against Ine a year earlier. Ine was now in his sixties and retired to Rome. He 'commended his kingdom to younger men'. It came down to a struggle between the two athelings, Oswald and Athelheard, Oswald was descended from Ceawlin. The same entry calls Athelheard kinsman to Ine. The two fought and Athelheard became king. In one charter Athelheard is called the brother of Ine's wife Atelburh.

In 733 Somerton was lost to King Aethelbald of Mercia. This was quickly followed by the territory beyond Selwood being lost to Mercia. Athelheard's authority was so weak that Aethelbald was able to give the Archbishop of Canterbury a gift of the monastery of Cookham in Berkshire (Wessex). Aethelbald also took Wiltshire, Sussex and much of the heartlands of Wessex. Athelheard could do nothing to prevent this loss. He also took part in Athelbald's wars with the Welsh. It seems Athelbald's wife, Frithugyth, was Mercian herself. In 737 she made a pilgrimage to Rome along with bishop Forthhere of Sherborne. Athelheard died in 740, his successor was his kinsman Cuthred.

Family

He married Frithugyth. They had no known children.


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