Æthelwolf hasn't always had the best press. None the less he laid the basis of an effective and well organised state centred on the traditional heartlands of Wessex, and one better placed to meet the Viking threat than other kingdoms.
The family tree below might help you cope with all the Æthels. Æthelwolf had 5 sons and 1 daughter - all of whom were going to be needed
Æthelwolf suffers from being between two of Wessex's favourite sons - Egbert and Alfred the Great; and by comparison his reign has been rather ignored, and his journey to Rome as self indulgent. But in fact Æthelwolf's achievement was considerable. He established a more harmonious relationship with the junior members of his little empire that Mercia had managed (Kent in particular). He managed to pull off a smooth succession, despite having 5 sons. His marriage to poor Judith, just 13, the daughter of Charles, King of the Franks, gave Wessex significant prestige. And in 851 he fought and defeated the largest Viking army yet, while his son Athelstan defeated a viking fleet at sea. This was an achievement that would be rare with the arrival of the micel here.
The Anglo Saxons Vs Vikings 9th century Scorecard
Childish, for sure. But below is my reckoning of who beat whom the most often...some of these there's no clear winner. So in the end I reckoned a victory by a nose for the Anglo Saxons, 16-14.