Aethelstan was born in 894 to Edmund the Elder and his first wife Ecgwynn. He was the grandson of Alfred the Great. Aethelstan was the eldest of fourteen children and became king in 924 following the death of his father.
Aethelstan’s reign was very successful – in 927 he conquered York, the final kingdom still under Danish occupation. This meant that Aethelstan was the first ruler of the united kingdoms, an utterly fantastic feat. In 937, England was invaded by Danes and Scots, but Aethelstan’s superior army easily defeated them in what was one of his greatest achievements.
Under Aethelstan’s control, the government flourished and religion became mainstream. He had a great interest in collecting saintly relics, as well as encouraging education and the English language!
Aethelstan died in 939 and was buried at Malmesbury Abbey, a place he was deeply devoted to. Sadly, his remains were lost during the Reformation. Because Aethelstan never married, nor produced issue, he was succeeded by his half-brother Edmund.