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Aethelstan: The First King of England

Michael Wood tells the tale of King Alfred's grandson Aethelstan, showing how he fulfilled the family plan to create a kingdom of all England.

In this third episode, Alfred's grandson Aethelstan fulfils the family plan and creates a kingdom of all England.

Travelling from Devon to Cumbria, Scotland and Rome, Michael Wood tells the tale of Aethelstan's wars, his learning and his lawmaking, showing how he created a national coinage and tracing the origin of the English parliament to the king's new assembly politics. But there's also a dark side, with later legends that the king had his brother drowned at sea. In his last desperate struggle, Aethelstan defeated a huge invasion of Vikings and Scots in what became known as the Anglo-Saxon 'Great War'.

Wood argues that Aethelstan was one of the greatest English monarchs, and with his grandfather Alfred, his father Edward and his aunt Aethelflaed, a member of our most remarkable royal family and 'even more than the Tudors, the most gifted and influential rulers in British history'.

59 minutes

Last on

Tue 3 Mar 2020 20:00

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Role Contributor
Presenter Michael Wood
Writer Michael Wood
Series Producer Rebecca Dobbs