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The Warrior Queen: The Life and Legend of Aethelflaed, Daughter of Alfred the Great



By: Joanna Arman(Author)

Language: English

Genre: Biography

Publisher: Amberley Publishing (15 May 2017)

Format: pdf doc docx mobi djvu epub ibooks (*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.)

The original title of the book: The Warrior Queen: The Life and Legend of Aethelflaed, Daughter of Alfred the Great

Æthelflæd, eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, has gone down in history as an enigmatic and almost legendary figure. To the popular imagination, she is the archetypal warrior queen, a Medieval Boudicca, renowned for her heroic struggle against the Danes and her independent rule of the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. In fiction, however, she has also been cast as the mistreated wife who seeks a Viking lover, and struggles to be accepted as a female ruler in a patriarchal society.

The sources from her own time, and later, reveal a more complex, nuanced and fascinating image of the ‘Lady of the Mercians’. A skilled diplomat who forged alliances with neighbouring territories, she was a shrewd and even ruthless leader willing to resort to deception and force to maintain her power. Yet she was also a patron of learning, who used poetic tradition and written history to shape her reputation as a Christian maiden engaged in an epic struggle against the heathen foe.

The real Æthelflæd emerges as a remarkable political and military leader, admired in her own time, and a model of female leadership for writers of later generations.

Joanna Arman is currently a PhD Student at the University of Winchester, researching Women and Feudalism in the Late Middle-Ages. She has a passion for the Anglo-Saxon period and researched Æthelflæd of Mercia, daughter of Alfred the Great, as the subject of her MA research.

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  • By William C Laverty on 3 August 2017

    Enjoyable but mostly fiction of course as very little is known about the lady. She should be more famous than Boudica as she was a warrior queen who won her battles!

  • By john shale on 4 September 2017

    not for me. present

  • By Victor Bourne on 8 August 2017

    Very pleased with the product and service.

  • By david on 1 June 2017

    Joanna Arman's debut book is a study of the life and times of Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great and remembered as the 'Lady of the Mercians'. I confess to being a bit wary of reading and reviewing this book; in recent years Aethelflaed has been lumped together with the likes of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Joan of Arc as examples of strong women coping in oppressive male-dominated historical environments. There may be plenty of truth to this interpretation, but personally I find it tedious and just another example of 21st century audiences imposing their needs and desires on the distant past.Thankfully Arman swerves the clichés and presents an intelligent and (insofar as I can tell, not being an expert on the period) accurate study of Aethelfaled and the rise of the House of Wessex in the 9th century. Aethelflaed's father Alfred is realistically depicted as a tough and ruthless operator, deceitful when it suited him, and not at all the slightly repellent weakling of modern populist fiction. I'm less convinced by the recent theory that Alfred was effectively deposed by his own thegns and churchmen at Chippenham, though Arman is careful to present this as just one possibility. The author's account of the Battle of Ethandun is both realistic and convincing - there were no clever battlefield tactics employed, it was simply up and at 'em and the Devil take the hindmost. Arman's description of enraged Wessex fyrdsmen charging straight uphill to give the pestilent Danes a good stuffing is almost cinematic, even if it does rely heavily on Alfred's own version of events in the Life of Asser. However the battle went down, the fact remains that Alfred won a precious victory and was able to exploit it to the full.Arman is clearly an admirer of Aethelflaed, but doesn't let her fondness for the subject tip over into uncritical heroine-worship. Much space is given to Aethelflaed's husband Aethelred of Mercia, an underrated warlord who did more than his share in defending Mercia and Wessex from the 'Great Army' of the Danes. His marriage to Aethelflaed appears to have been successful, even though she insisted on having only one child and then abstaining from sex afterwards. When Aethelflaed fell ill, he was also content to let his wife get on with the running of Mercia, a sign of his confidence in her extraordinary ability.Aethelflaed really came into her own in the last seven years of her life. After the death of Aethelred she governed Mercia herself and ruthlessly expanded the borders of the kingdom. She and her brother Edward, King of Wessex after Alfred, formed one of the most formidable sibling partnerships in history. Together they clawed back great chunks of territory in the north and midlands from the Danes, nailing down each of their conquests with the construction of 'burhs': a mixture of civilian settlement, trading centre, military garrison and defensive fortification.For all their shared success, there doesn't seem to have been much love lost between Alfred's children. When Aethelfled died, Edward raced into Mercia and threw her daughter Aelfwynn into a convent almost before her mother's body had cooled. This gave him overall control of both kingdoms, a significant step in extending Wessex hegemony over the whole of England. It was all strictly business, with zero sentiment involved. Arman suggests Aelfwynn had shown little sign of her mother's capacity, and Edward could not afford to tolerate any form of weakness. The Wessex kings were pragmatists who meant to win and hold power: if that meant shoving one's niece in a religious house for the rest of her days, so be it.Arman's prose throughout is sharp as a saex, and never gets bogged down in over-analysis of this or that arguable scrap of evidence. Away from war and politics, the author also presents Aethelflaed as a pious, cultured and educated woman, with a taste for heroic poetry. One chapter is devoted to an interesting study of Judith, a 9th century poem quite possibly composed by Aethelflaed herself, or at any rate endorsed by her. The subject matter of the poem, a warrior queen leading her beleagured people against a sea of enemies, is certainly appropriate for the Lady of the Mercians.

  • By Colm Chase on 7 July 2017

    Like many other reviewers I enjoyed this book, but I was left wondering if the publishers/authors bothered to proof read the book before putting it on the market. A book like this deserves to be free of typographical errors but this one is riddled with them, even down to the last sentence of the last chapter - what a great shame

  • By D P Flaherty on 12 June 2017

    Great history of a Fantastic woman

  • By A. Possehn on 27 July 2017

    Engaging and informative attempt to show the human being behind the legend. Good incorporation of the general historic circumstances at the time and very enjoyable read.

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