In the eighth century, the Danes sailed the North Sea and landed on the Northumbrian coast of England. In less than a hundred years they ravaged everything in their path, and eventually captured the city of London. King Alfred the Great of Wessex fought back. A key role in this fight was played by Alfred's oldest child, Aethelflaed, known as the Lady of the Mercians by her own people.
This story is a fictionalized account of the life of Lady Aethelflaed. Her successful defense of the western border of English Mercia against the Scandinavian Vikings was a major factor in the success of the English campaigns. She was a warrior princess, a military tactician, and a treaty negotiator whose efforts, together with those of her husband, Ethelred, Overlord of Mercia, and her brother, Edward, eventually drove back the Viking invaders and united England under one crown.
Years ago I came across the name of Aethelflaed in my readings in early English history and was intrigued that this heroic woman, who played such an important military role in the making of the English nation, should have received so little mention. In the early 1970s, I started reading every record of Anglo-Saxon history I could find. Clearly, I needed to go to England to find out more about this woman's life. One trip turned into three, and when I came back to the States after these trips, I started writing about her life as I imagined it might have been. Because little is known about the lives of Aethelflaed and her contemporaries, this account of her life should be read primarily as a story told against the backdrop of ninth and tenth century Anglo-Saxon England. I trusted that recorded events might serve as a guide to the characters of these people.