Floki fearing this had happened because the gods were unhappy with them for cooperating with Christians. [i] But he remained a resented outsider, and the northern British kingdoms preferred to ally with the pagan Norse of Dublin. Although just a few hours later, Aslaug arrives heavily pregnant. "Clearly", comments Alex Woolf, "King Æthelstan was a man who had pretensions,"  while in the view of Simon Keynes, "Æthelstan A" proclaimed his master king of Britain "by wishful extension".
 In the eighth century, Mercia had been the most powerful kingdom in southern England, but in the early ninth, Wessex became dominant under Æthelstan's great-great-grandfather, Egbert. Cenwald went on to make a tour of German monasteries, giving lavish gifts on Æthelstan's behalf and receiving in return promises that the monks would pray for the king and others close to him in perpetuity. , The Anglo-Saxons were the first people in northern Europe to write administrative documents in the vernacular, and law codes in Old English go back to Æthelberht of Kent at the beginning of the seventh century.
England and Saxony became closer after the marriage alliance, and German names start to appear in English documents, while Cenwald kept up the contacts he had made by subsequent correspondence, helping the transmission of continental ideas about reformed monasticism to England. The new marriage weakened Æthelstan's position, as his step-mother naturally favoured the interests of her own sons, Ælfweard and Edwin. Historians generally describe her as his only full sister, but Maggie Bailey points out that this rests on the late testimony of William of Malmesbury, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle makes no such distinction when recording her marriage to Sihtric. According to William of Malmesbury, the gifts Adelolf brought included spices, jewels, many swift horses, a crown of solid gold, the sword of Constantine the Great, Charlemagne's lance, and a piece of the Crown of Thorns. Athelstan observes many of the Pagan rituals and is given intoxicating mushrooms by Rollo. Athelstan questions the captured Englishmen and discovers that the vikings are in Wessex, a country where the king is known for his wit and cruelty on the battlefield. In the early sixteenth century William Tyndale justified his English translation of the Bible by stating that he had read that King Æthelstan had caused the Holy Scriptures to be translated into Anglo-Saxon. 477–479; Foot. They come to Athelstan and ask if he would like to join them but Athelstan declines their offer and explains that he has taken an oath of celibacy and God would know of his sin. One of the king's mass-priests (priests employed to say Mass in his household), Ælfheah, became Bishop of Wells, while another, Beornstan, succeeded Frithestan as Bishop of Winchester. The first of these later codes, issued at Grately, prescribed harsh penalties, including the death penalty for anyone over twelve years old caught in the act of stealing goods worth more than eight pence.  Lapidge and Wood see the poem as a commemoration of Alfred's ceremony by one of his leading scholars, John the Old Saxon. While standing over the body the abbot (Saint Ælfheah) intrudes and recognizes Athelstan as a monk and threatens him with crucifixion (even though Athelstan is trying to get him to escape) but, while the abbot is tormenting Athelstan, Floki interrupts and takes the Bishop Swithun, ties him to a pillar and shoots him with arrows continually for all to see.
I was dead, but… I’m reborn. Wood also suggests that Æthelstan may have been the first English king to be groomed from childhood as an intellectual, and that John was probably his tutor.  When Edward died, Æthelstan was apparently with him in Mercia, while Ælfweard was in Wessex.