One little month just isn’t enough. Part of keeping feminism “relevant” (New Feminist uses the word under protest) is remembering great women of the past.
First up: King Ethelflaed. That’s right, King Ethelflaed.
Ethelflaed lived in the 9th century. She was one of the children of Alfred the Great and his queen, Ealhswith. LIke her brothers, Ethelflaed was given a thorough education in both books and military arts. At age 15, she was married to the king of Mercia (England was then divided into parts – Mercia was one of them). On her wedding journey, her party was attacked; Ethelflaed immediately organized her people and successfully led them against the attackers. When her husband fell ill, Ethelflaed took leadership of the army and began signing charters in her own right. Upon her husband’s death, Ethelflaed assumed the throne. Her subjects, by all accounts, loved and respected her; she was to them “the Lady of the Mercians” and “King,” no mere consort as queens were.
As king, Ethelflaed led troops and fought battles against Viking invaders. The forts she had built still stand today as a reminder of the peace she brought to the Mercians. She was a warrior and could destroy, but she also could create: She built and endowed a number of churches, and the city of Gloucester, which had been destroyed, was reconstructed by her, and the street plans that she designed still exist today.
History tells us little enough about her, but that little is more than enough. “Let flowers fall upon the tomb.”