Edward was the son of Alfred the Great and Ealhswith. She was a daughter of Ethelred, also called Mucill, Ealdorman of the Gaini. He was born about the year 870. As one of at least three athelings, it was not absolutely certain he would be king after his father.[a] His cousin, Aethelheim, was older and was the son of Alfred's older brother Athelred of Wessex. When he was about four years old Edward was sent to Rome. There, in a ceremony, he was given a sword, belt and given the rank of consul. This is one of several things Alfred did to make Edward the first choice among the Athelings who would succeed him as king. By a past agreement Alfred had control of most of the royal estates. He could leave all or some to Edward. In the 880s, Alfred made a will giving most of the royal estates to his son Edward, and left his two nephews only modest lands in the eastern part of the realm. This meant that if Ethelhelm were selected as king over Edward, he might not have enough income to support himself as king.