What do the English Football Association and 10th century monks in Winchester have in common?

They both wrote women out of history.

The English FA’s decision in 1921 that ‘the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and should not be encouraged’ and to ban women from using their grounds, is notorious.

Less well known is that Winchester monks commissioned to record important events in Anglo-Saxon times omitted to mention the most important female of the period except for her death in 918 CE. We now know that Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, played a crucial part in the defence and re-conquest of the Midlands after the death of her father, King Alfred. She also fostered King Alfred’s grandson, who became the first king of all England.

I drew these two facts together when I dedicated my latest novel King Alfred’s Daughter to: ‘the spirit of the countless women who like Æthelflæd have found themselves written out of history. I did the final edits of King Alfred’s Daughter during the 2022 European Women’s Football competition when I learned that the golden age of the women’s game in the 1920s was buried by the men of the Football Association when they banned women from playing on their grounds for fifty years until 1971 – a reminder that the habit of writing women out of history was not just a thing of the medieval period.

So why did the monks of Winchester not acknowledge the heroic exploits of King Alfred’s daughter? Read more in the next post….