Aethelflaed was born in 870 , and was the eldest child of King Alfred the Great.
One the great things about Alfred was that he taught his daughter all the kind of things: military strategy, economics , law, taxes and most importantly how to kill a Viking with a sword .
This last skill will frequently come handy over the course of Aethelflaeds life, including when she and her bridal party were attacked by Vikings and she had to fight them off until only she, a bodyguard, and a maid servant were left alive.
Her marriage to Aethelred , Lord of Mercians, would consolidate the kingdom of Wessex and Mercia, bringing the many kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England one step closer to a consolidated kingdom- something the Vikings were probably keen to prevent.
In 911 , Aethelflaed husband died. Unusually she was respected by the aristocracy for her military and political skill that she was able to stay on as the sole ruler with the title Lady of the Mercians, the female version of her late husbands title, Lord of the Mercians. After all, they knew shed been the one running the show for the previous decade or so anyway.
During her solo rule, Aethelflaed continued to win important battles and work towards consolidation of the kingdoms of England with her younger brother, Edward. She fought yet more Vikings to get them out of Wales in 915, then invaded Wales in 916 because the Welsh had murdered some English abbot and she was upset .
In 917 she recaptured Derby from Danes, and thats why there is Derby today. The kingdoms of Leicester and York submitted to her rule outright. She rebuilt Roman roads and built the cathedral in Gloucester that still stands.
Aethelflaed was still making great progress against Vikings when alas, she died in 918. Remarkably, her rule passed on her daughter , Aelfwynn, who had been co-ruling with her mother, as any good daughter would. It will be the first woman-to-woman succession in all of Europe, not to be repeated for another 600 years with the succession of Lady Jane Grey to Mary to Elizabeth I.
However, Aethelflaeds brother Edward ended up coming along to unset Aelfwynn. It would be his son, Aethelstan, who had been educated in the court of Aethelflaed, who , in 927 , would finally succeed in unifying the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
And that, is (kind of) where England comes from.
Source ~ Ann Shen 100 Nasty Women of History