King of Mercia
August 2, 924 – October 27, 939
|Preceded by||Elfward (disputed)|
|Succeeded by||Edmund I|
|Died|| October 27, 939 (aged 45/46)|
Athelstan' (d.939) king of England (924-939) is considered one of the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon kings. Being brought up as much in his aunt Ethelfleda’s Mercian court as in his father, Edward’s, Wessex household, gave him the advantage of enjoying the support of both.
Immediately into his reign he consolidated royal power below the River Humber, and by 927 had extended direct control to York. Ten years later he and his half-brother Edmund led a combined West Saxon Mercian force to total victory against a coalition of Scots, Irish and Vikings at Brunanburh that sealed his power in the north. He maintained peace within his realm and began codification of the law, and instituted assemblies (courts) of national standing, attended by both the English and Welsh nobility. He reformed coinage to reflect the reality of a unified England and his place at its head, and enjoyed the efficiency of a well-organised administration.
He was active in international affairs, married his daughters high into European royalty, and housed at his court the exiled king of France for 18 years. He also brought up as his foster-son the future king of Norway.
Whilst English control of the north weakened after his death, his reign is seen as an important stage in the progress towards the permanent unification of England under one monarch. He was succeeded by his half-brother, Edmund I.