Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Who Are All These Kings?: Ethelbald

Ethelbald was the eldest son of Ethelwulf, King of Wessex.

He was born in 831, and first comes into written history when fighting alongside his father against the Danish invaders at the Battle of Ockley in 851.

When Ethelwulf abdicated in 855 in order to go on a pilgrimage to Rome with his youngest son Alfred, Ethelbald took over as King. He was crowned at Kingston-on-Thames.

On Ethelwulf’s return, Ethelbald refused to give up the crown, and Ethelwulf peacefully retired to Kent, where his second son Ethelbert conceded to him.

After Ethelwulf’s death in 858, Ethelbald caused a scandal by marrying his stepmother, Judith, daughter of Charles the Bald, King of the Franks, who by this time was 15. Within a year, however, the marriage was annulled.

Ethelbald died, young and childless, in 860, and was buried at Sherborne Abbey. He was succeeded by his brother Ethelbert, the King of Kent.