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Ælfthryth (c. 945 – 1000 or 1001, also Alfrida, Elfrida or Elfthryth) was the second or third wife of King Edgar of England. Ælfthryth was the first king’s wife known to have been crowned and anointed as Queen of the Kingdom of England. Mother of King Æthelred the Unready, she was a powerful political figure. She was linked to the murder of her stepson King Edward the Martyr and appeared as a stereotypical bad queen and evil stepmother in many medieval histories.
Ælfthryth was the daughter of Ealdorman Ordgar. Her mother was a member of the royal family of Wessex. The family’s power lay in the west of Wessex. Ordgar was buried in Exeter and his son Ordwulf founded, or refounded, Tavistock Abbey.
Ælfthryth was first married to Æthelwald, son of Æthelstan Half-King as recorded by Byrhtferth of Ramsey in his Life of Saint Oswald of Worcester. Later accounts, such as that preserved by William of Malmesbury, add vivid detail of unknown reliability.
According to William, the beauty of…

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