O potent Elfleda! Maid, men’s terror!
You did conquer nature’s self; worthy
The name of man!
More beauteous nature’s form of
A woman; but your valour shall secure
Man’s higher name. For name you only need
Not sex to change; unconquerable queen,
King rather, who such trophies have obtained!
O virgin and virago farewell!
No Ceasar yet such triumph hath deserved
As you, than any, all, the Ceasars more renown’d!
~ Francis Peck
Of all the medieval women I have researched and written about, Aethelflaed is by far my favorite. She was the daughter of Alfred the Great and was instrumental in carrying out his vision for a united Britain.
Aethelflaed was born in 868, the eldest child of King Alfred of England and his wife Ealhswith. Ealhswith was related to the house of Mercia through her mother, Eadburh so Aethelflaed had a Mercian pedigree in addition to her West Anglo-Saxon heritage. Mercia was one of the kingdoms of England that’s roughly in the middle of the island between Wales and East Anglia. Aethelflaed grew up in the care of her mother with her younger brother Edward at the royal palace of…