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Æthelred I (845 or 848 – 871) was King of Wessex from 865 until his death. He was the fourth of five sons of King Æthelwulf. He succeeded his elder brother Æthelberht and was followed by his youngest brother, Alfred the Great. Æthelred's two infant sons were passed over for the kingship. Æthelred's accession coincided with the arrival of the Viking Great Heathen Army in England. Over the next five years the Vikings conquered Northumbria and East Anglia, before launching a full-scale attack on Wessex in late 870. In early January 871, Æthelred was defeated at the Battle of Reading. Four days later he scored a victory in the Battle of Ashdown, but this was followed by two defeats at Basing and Meretun. He died shortly after Easter. Alfred was forced to buy off the Vikings, but decisively defeated them seven years later. Æthelred's reign was important numismatically, as he adopted the Mercian Lunettes design, creating a unified coinage design for southern England for the first time. (Full article...)
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