Athelstan or Æthelstan (both: ăthˈəlstən, ăthˈĕlstän) [key], d. 939, king of Wessex (924–39), son and successor of Edward the Elder. After coming to the throne, he vigorously built up his kingdom on the foundations established by his grandfather Alfred. He made himself overlord of all England, establishing his hegemony firmly by victory over a coalition of his enemies at Brunanburh in 937. He was popular as well as able, was generous to the church, and issued laws that attempted to impose royal authority on customary law. Athelstan married his sisters to Charles III of France, the French duke Hugh the Great, Otto I of Germany, and Louis, king of Arles. He was succeeded by his brother Edmund.

See F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (3d ed. 1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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