Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dead King Watch: Athelstan


Today marks the 1067th anniversary of the death Athelstan, who ruled England from 924-939, not that one would know it from reading the bourgeois press of course. What are they trying to hide, (no) one wonders?

Athelstan was born in 895, the son of King Edward the Elder of the Anglo-Saxons, and grandson of Alfred the Great. In 924, Edward died and so Athelstan became King of Mercia and eventually King of Wessex (both in the South of England). Yet rather than rest contented, his desire for more power meant he soon made a move up North, to wage war on the Viking Kingdom of Northumbria - conquering them to become ruler of more territory than any other Anglo-Saxon before him. The other rulers of tribes in Great Britain seem to have now submitted to Athelstan: 'first Hywel, King of the West Welsh {Cornish}, and Constantine II, King of Scots, and Owain, King of the people of Gwent, and Ealdred...of Bamburgh' records the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Athelstan was effectively now the first real King of England worthy of the name, extending his rule to Wales and Cornwell. When he died in 939, he chose to be buried in Malmesbury rather than at Winchester, and apparently in Malmesbury if few other places his name lives on into the 20th and 21st centuries, 'with everything from a bus company and a second-hand shop to several roads and streets named after him'. Such a commemoration seems to me to be more than enough a tribute to this warmongering, power-hungry King.

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