Ethelwulf was born in 795 AD, the son of King Egbert and his Frankish wife Raedburh. He was made sub-king of Kent, Essex, Sussex and Surrey in about 825 and succeeded to the throne of England in 839. His sub-kingship then passed to his younger brother Athelstan.
He was married around 830 to Osburga, a daughter of Ealdorman Oslac of Hampshire. She bore him four sons who all were to become kings - Ethelbald, Etelbert, Ethelred I and Alfred the Great. Their daughter Ethelswith got married in 853 to Burhred King of Mercia1. Soon after this event Osburga died leading to the start of her sons' reigns.
The recently widowed Ethelwulf left the kingdom to his eldest son Ethelbald and went on pilgrimage to Rome taking with him his youngest son Alfred. They were received by Pope Leo IV who confirmed Alfred2. Whilst returning, they stopped at the court of King Charles the Bald of the Franks where Ethelwulf took Charles' 12 year old daughter as his second wife. She was later to marry her step-son Ethelbald.
Ethelwulf returned fit but had died a little over a year later on 13 January, 858. He was originally buried at Steyning, Sussex, but now lies at Winchester.