Book 2, Chapter 4, 857 AD to 878 AD – Reign of Ethelbald
Ethelbald continued to rifle over Wessex after the death of his father Ethelwulf in 857, the smaller territory which the latter had during his closing years, being assigned to Ethelbert the second son. Ethelbald committed a great scandal by marrying Judith, his young and handsome stepmother, but it is uncertain how the scandal terminated. According to some of the chroniclers, Swithin, Bishop of Winchester, with great trouble, induced the king to dissolve the connexion, and imposed upon him prolonged and heavy penance for having contracted an alliance within the degrees prohibited by the canons. According to other accounts, Ethelbald refused to part from Judith, who, indeed, it is said, was never married to him, and their connexion was terminated only by his death, which occurred in 860, and which the superstition of that time (lid not fail to interpret as a sign of the displeasure of Heaven.
By a singular and almost romantic chain of events, the twice widowed Judith, who was still under’ twenty years of age, became yet more intimately connected with the national history. On the death of Ethelbald, she sold the land conferred upon her as a dowry by Ethelwulf, and returned to her father’s court. The French king placed her for security in a convent at Senlis, near to Paris, from which she either eloped with, or was abducted by, Baldwin, great forester of France. Charles the Bald was much incensed, and at his orders the French bishops excommunicated Baldwin for having carried off a widow, but the pope disallowed the excommunication, and interceded with the king on behalf of the fugitive pair, so that at length Charles gave a reluctant consent to their marriage, and conferred upon Baldwin the earldom of Flanders. From this union sprang the future husband of Elfrida, youngest daughter of Alfred the Great, and from these, through five lineal descents, came the wife of William the Conqueror.
Chapter 4, Reign of Ethelbald
His Stepmother Judith and Her Descendants
Chapter 4, Destruction of Croyland Abbey
Chapter 4, Alfred the Great
Chapter 4, Fresh Troubles with the Danes
Chapter 4, Treaty between him and Guthrun
Categories: Book 2