King Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons

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The Lady of the Mercians

Series 1 - Episode 2 The Lady of the Mercians



Ask your average punter about Aethelflaed and they’ll probably draw a blank but, argues Michael Wood, England might never have happened without her. The daughter of Alfred the Great, she ruled Mercia with wisdom and acuity, alongside brother Edward. A prudent negotiator, she nevertheless scored morale-boosting victories against the Vikings and systematically built and restored towns as she went.

This is Anglo-Saxon specialist Wood at his best. It’s a vigorous tale, told via detail-steeped narrative (the people of Chester threw beer and beehives over the wall at besieging Vikings) and chronicle extracts. Even the director’s decision to include modern machinery in landscape shots (trains, tractors, a Chinook) manages to underscore the drama.


Michael Wood explores the role played by Alfred the Great's daughter Aethelflaed in England's battles in civil war and against the Vikings. The presenter contemplates how England `may never have happened' without the young ruler of Mercia, who led armies, built fortresses, was a skilled diplomat in campaigning against the Norse invaders, and became a beloved leader in the British Isles.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Michael Wood
Series Producer Rebecca Dobbs
Documentary History